Postpartum, escpecially for the first time mom, can be difficult. Your body is healing, in various ways. Where your once round bump was, is now squishy and different. You are leaking, in various ways. You are getting to know your baby and learning how to care for them. You are likely trying to do it all, all while sleep deprived.
It can be hard to slow down, even when others are telling you to. Everyone wants to come and meet your new baby! They are so excited for you and they want to share your joy. If I could go back, I would limit the amount of visits I had in the hospital with my first child. I was so excited to show off my little man! I was trying to heal from birth. I was EXHAUSTED from being up all day, laboring all night, then having visits the whole next day. All while learning how to care for my baby, breastfeed, track pee’s and poos, get sleep, eat well etc. I didn’t want to nursing in front of others at first, so trying to build our nursing relationship was hard. My son started to lose weight, and the pressure to supplement with formula came on hard and fast. I fought hard (all sleep deprived night long) to regain our breastfeeding relationship. Thankfully we did. I regretted having so many visitors. With my second child we limited visits and had a much easier and more enjoyable first few days.
So, my advice to you is WAIT. Wait until you get home to have the visits. Tell your well meaning friends and loved ones, “We would love a visit from you when we are settled in at home!”
1. Feed her and tell her she's pretty!
- If you are visiting someone who just had a baby you can't go wrong with bringing the new parents food. Who has time to grocery shop, meal plan, or cook postpartum? There are better things to do! Bring them something nutritious to eat. My favorite go to’s are these breakfast burritos.
Use whole wheat tortillas, eggs, veggies, a protein or two, cheese, and wrap them individually in press and seal. They can be frozen and reheated in just a few minutes. My hubby and I lived on these for the first few weeks after our first child.
I also love these blueberry avocado muffins from the Thriving Home Blog! They are sweet and healthy. Bringing food will buy you the visit you want. For great food tips and tricks make sure to follow my friend and fellow mommy Lisa at her site Four More Bites.
2. Stay in your robe!
- Keep your robe on and do as much skin to skin as possible with your new babe. This stirs up that amazing love hormone, oxytocin. It helps you and baby bond and helps you establish your breastfeeding relationship. It makes nursing easy, just wear a nursing bra and stretchy tank underneath. (My favorite are Bravado silk nursing bras and Kohls Sonoma tanks - I seriously probably will wear both forever.) This makes it easy for guests to also see you are not going to be hostess and lets them know to keep their visits brief.
3. Dad protect the environment!
- When that well meaning person comes and overstays their welcome it is dad’s job to politely invite them to leave. This is not the time to be hostess of the year. If you are the guest, know that a brief visit is best. If you are welcome longer you will be invited to stay. When you do visit, offer to do a chore for the family, and let mom and baby relax. Maybe offer to snuggle baby and let mom take a shower or a nap but don’t baby a baby hog and steal all the snuggles! Don’t ask to hold the baby unless offered. Oh, and wash your hands!
4. Learn to relax
- Do not over do it in the first few weeks postpartum. There has been an enormous amount of change in your body physically and emotionally. Allow yourself the time you need to heal fully. (Repeat after me: I will not go to Target to get all the things. I will not go to Target to get all the things... not speaking from experience or anything... but if you do baby wear.)
Your body will tell you if you need to slow down. Often times you can tell in your postpartum lochia, or discharge. It will likely increase in amount and color if you are overdoing it.
The hormone fluctuation postpartum is huge. Your body is going from pregnant to not, and initiating lactation. This can really throw your body for a loop. Know what is normal and not. Many women will go through what is called baby blues. These are often mild and don’t last longer than a week or two. If you are noticing your mood is down and you’re struggling with energy, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, or sleep make sure you talk with your care provider. Family is often the first to notice the change, be aware and speak up if your loved one seems off. Postpartum mood disorders are serious and need to be cared for and treated.
5. Give yourself grace!
- Enjoy this amazing time in your life. Take pictures and journal all of your baby's firsts. Enjoy the love and support you are getting. This time goes so fast! Give yourself grace and love.
Learning your baby’s cues comes with time. Confidence is built from experience. You will learn how to be an amazing parent to your little one! My best advice is to relax and trust your intuition! Oh, and once your think you have your child all figured out... they change!
One of the biggest things I've learned as a mom is life doesn't revolve around me anymore! My life revolves around my two children now. I spend my days with teething, tantruming (I invented this word), potty training, messy and loving babes. I am so busy and focused on their needs it is easy to forget my own.
Self care is so important for moms. We can't give from a place that is empty. Early on in my parenting journey I had to learn quick and easy ways to de-stress and care for myself. I will share with you 5 things you can easily do to care for yourself.
TIP # 1 - TAKE A BATH
- My son was a colicky baby. We were dealing with food sensitivities and he wasn't a happy boy for the first many months of his life. The second my husband came home I handed him off and went to run myself a bath. That 20 minute bath helped me relax and regroup from the day. I was able to re-energize myself and come back to my family a calmer and happy mom.
- Try incorporating 1 cup of Epsom salt and a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath for a great way to relax your muscles and relieve aches and pains.
TIP # 2 - TURN UP THE MUSIC
- This seems so silly and simple but it helps! When I find my kids are cranky and in a funk I turn on Pandora to my favorite stations. Either Matchbox Twenty or Jewel radio if you're curious ;)
- Getting everyone singing and moving to the music easily helps lift my mood and get the kids distracted from whatever meltdown they were having.
TIP # 3 - GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
- This is with and without your kids! Fresh air is so important for our souls. Go for a walk, to the park, for ice cream.
- I don't care where you go but sometimes you just need to get out of the house! Lately I have found that grocery shopping alone is so peaceful. I usually crank up the music on my drive there and relax. I can actually focus on everything in the aisle... I am not redirecting or keeping peace between the kids. It may be silly but it gives me some time to just relax. This could be to Aldi... or Target... just a couple good ideas ;)
- Go out to eat with a friend. I love getting together with mom friends and just relaxing and laughing and commiserating about our busy and humorous lives as moms.
TIP # 4: SPEND TIME WITH YOUR PARTNER
- As parents, it is easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle and bustle that you forge to take time for each other. Don't forget what made you fall in love. Spend time together talking about your day and decompressing.
- In my home we try and get the kids to bed by 8:30. With our oldest this doesn't always happens, he has FOMO! After they are in bed this is our time to spend together. This is important, make it a priority to be together without your children!
TIP # 5: FIND YOUR PASSION AND PURSUE IT
- This may be a bit abstract but it is important to have a purpose. I have a few passions I have learned over the years. One being teaching! I absolutely love helping couples prepare for their births. I love watching those ah-ha moments!
- I also love crafting and crocheting. It keeps my mind busy and focused. I love the feeling of finishing a project and even more love seeing someone's face when I give them my finished product.
It is important to do the things you love. Don't forget your hobbies or work. These things can help give our lives purpose and help us to decompress and regroup from a stressful day.
I hope these tips help give you a few simple ideas of ways you can care for yourself. As moms, our plates are always full. Take time every day to care for yourself so you can stay a grounded, centered, and happy mom!
Paige is a Childbirth Educator in Sioux Falls, SD
People often ask me what the secret to an amazing birth is. It got me thinking... I could say that it is education, knowing proper nutrition or great birth positions. Those are all really important but I believe the number one thing that can make or break a birth experience is the labor support team.
These people are not experiencing the birth personally but they are so important in helping and guiding a mother through her experience. Birth is a woman's job.
Try and imagine trying to hike Mount Everest. You can't go and hike it tomorrow. You need training, intense training, and amazing guides. Even though you have intensely trained, you don't know the way, you need support along the trip. Birth is a woman's Mount Everest. It is physically one of the most challenging things a woman will experience in her life. Having a great support team can make her experience amazing.
THE SUPPORT PERSON
- Can you have just anyone? NO! This person needs to be someone you can rely on and trust deeply. Birth is one of the most intimate moments of a woman's life.
- What if they have no idea what they are doing? What if they are terrified to see you in pain? This person needs to be educated. Knowing the birth process itself is so powerful. This helps mom and her partner know what is actually happening. They can see hallmark signs of the labors progression and know what comes next. Education also teaches the birth team in knowing what will help with labor pains.
- Do you want your support person passing out when you need them most?!
- Do you need a doula?? YES YES YES you do! They are the most invaluable tool you can add to your toolbox. I want to shout from the rooftops that everyone needs a doula! Think Oprah... "You get a doula, and you get a doula!!"
- I will never forget the support I was given during my first birth. Our doula guided my husband and I and took our fear away. Being able to look up and see her calm, smiling face allowed me to relax and know that what was going on was good and normal. It allowed me to surrender to the process and allow my baby to be born.
- They support your support person. They guide them and teach them how to give you the help you need the most.
- They suggest new coping skills, comfort measures, relaxation techniques.
- They can help you weigh pros and cons of unplanned events.
THE CARE PROVIDER
- This is one of the most important parts of your whole birth. Your care provider can make or break your experience.
- What they "allow" or don't allow guides your birth. If you have a provider who doesn't agree with your hopes and goals, find someone who does!
- Watch for red flags. Hearing "I'll LET you... We'll see about that..." are signs that your provider really isn't supportive of your plan. Are they laughing, mocking your wishes? Trust your intuition. You are hiring them, think about that for a minute...
- Advocate for yourself and your baby. This may be the first decision you make as a parent.
Paige Goldade - A Birth Boot Camp Instructor living and loving in South Dakota. She is a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers. She works as a childbirth educator and Board Certified Registered Nurse.