As a first time mama, I was so focused on preparing for birth. This life changing event was one I would approach with total preparation. I read all that I could, and did all that I could to prepare.
While preparing extensively for birth is a wonderful idea, I made the mistake of overlooking the crucial postpartum recovery period and what the first days and weeks with a newborn is really like.
Let me share the things that most surprised me AFTER birth, and how you can be better prepared and more comfortable during this time. It will allow you to focus more on that beautiful newborn and soak up all the snuggles, if you have the right preparations in place for yourself.
5 Ways I could have better prepared for my postpartum recovery and life with a newborn
Beyond buying a package of overnight pads to have waiting for me after birth, I didn’t put a lot of thought and foresight into preparing for my postpartum recovery. I had no idea just how uncomfortable I would be feeling down there.
Taking baths while recovering postpartum was one of the things that felt the most soothing to my recovering body. It was either time I had to focus on myself and breathe for a moment, or a time when I would bring my little one into the tub. We would breastfeed and snuggle skin to skin. That bonding time felt so special. The Postpartum Herb Bath for Mom and Baby is perfect for making this activity extra soothing on your sore bottom and to aid in healing.
Next time around, I will be more intentional about creating a postpartum care kit that will include essential oil blends, herb baths, witch hazel, padsicles, and a peri-bottle.
I don’t think I was alone in being a first time mom who thought that breastfeeding was something you and your baby could just inherently do. I had no idea what kind of learning curve was associated with nursing or that it might leave my nipples sore and raw in the first few weeks.
Prenatal breastfeeding education can really give you an advantage and set you up for breastfeeding success right from the start. I had no idea that there are a variety of online breastfeeding classes available to learn in the comfort of your own home.
Additionally, I would recommend having a high quality nipple cream, like the Organic Herbal Breastfeeding Cream for Nursing and Lactating Moms on hand. During my daughter’s very first feed she latched on with a curled lip. This left me with a painful abrasion that I needed to push through while learning how to breastfeed and build my supply. Nipple cream was my savior!
Your postpartum time, especially in the few weeks right after birth should be focused on breastfeeding and healing alone. You are bonding with your baby and this time period is crucial for establishing milk supply and supporting exclusive breastfeeding.
What’s also important during this time? Nourishing your body with real whole foods, and plenty of calories to support your milk supply. Taking the time to stock your freezer with pre-made meals will serve you so well and aid in nourishment and reduced stress postpartum.
While my midwife did speak to me and warn me about the signs of postpartum depression, I don’t think I fully understood what a hormonal rollercoaster of emotions I would feel after birth. And because I didn’t realize exactly how much time I’d be spending breastfeeding my newborn, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional support I’d need to reach out for.
While so much of newborn life truly is filled with bliss, there are also times when you might feel like you’re not getting anything right. Having my partner or a loved one just sit with me while I breastfed and remind me that I was in fact doing a great job made a world of a difference.
Because so much of pregnancy is often focused on preparing for the event of birth, when it doesn’t go as planned, it can leave you feeling disappointed, upset or even guilty. I wanted a natural birth and things didn’t progress that way. While I’ve found peace with this now, at the time I was so upset.
I wish I’d made mental space and intentional time to process my birth. I wish I’d told my birth story more openly to help me with this. Instead, I kept it in because it wasn’t the birth I’d envisioned.
You’ve got this, Mama
By taking some time before birth to prepare for the physical and mental healing you will go through, your postpartum period will be easier and more comfortable. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Ask for support and vocalize your needs. Being a mama is no easy task, and to do it well, you must always take care of yourself too.
By Alli Wittbold
Alli is a wife, mama, online teacher and writer. You can read more of her writing for expecting and new mamas over at Mom Smart Not Hard.