Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section, the process is exhausting. And, regardless of how you deliver, you have to take care of a baby, plus recover. I’ve created a list of 10 postpartum survival tips to not only help make your days as easy as possible, but help you feel better during the fourth trimester!
1. Stock up on pads
Hospitals are very generous, and they will send you home with a care package. This will include pads, however they are quite bulky. The pads hospitals give are great for the first few days, when bleeding is heavy. Once it starts to slow down, you won’t want to feel like you are [quite literally] wearing a diaper. Get a large variety of pads for the different flow levels you’ll experience, ahead of time.
*Pro-tip*: Pick up incontinence pads. I used these Always Discreet Boutique Incontinence pads in place of menstrual pads, because they aren’t bulky, they absorb urine (in case of a very powerful sneeze), and they wear like regular underwear (unlike pads that unstick from underwear or slide off to the side, resulting in a leak!).
2. Lay a towel down
During pregnancy, your body produces a lot of excess fluids, and it has to get rid of them somehow. This comes in the form of blood, sweat and urine. Not to mention, the body produces breastmilk to feed the baby. With all this liquid coming from your body, the last thing you’ll want to do is go to bed, and ruin your mattress or sheets, especially if they are your good sheets! Instead, lay a highly absorbent bath towel down. This will also help you get better sleep!
3. Stay hydrated
I know this sounds counterintuitive, since your body is trying to rid of fluids. But, you’ll need to compensate for the fluid loss, because dehydration can lead to fatigue, difficulty urinating, and constipation. It can also affect breastmilk supply, if you breastfeed. If you are breastfeeding, it’s suggested to drink an extra 32 oz of water on top of the recommended 64 oz. To keep yourself motivated to drink so much liquid, I suggest investing in a large insulated water bottle.
4. Ignore the newborn noises
Newborns make some weird noises when they sleep, so don’t let it affect your sleep. I know it is hard not to jump at every sound, especially if you are a first time parent, but those grunts, squeaks, snores and snorts are normal. If the noises bother you, I suggest getting a sound machine (white noise machine), because it’s not going to help you, your partner or your baby, if you all aren’t getting [even just a little bit of] sleep.
*however I will say, if you notice rapid breathing, grunts with every breath, or if you see them working hard to breath, that it NOT normal- call the doctor!*
As my OB told me during my discharge, “walk to your hearts content!” Whether you walk around the house, you take a stroll outside, or you go to the store, it is imperative that you move around. Keep in mind that it should be done in moderation, unless your doctor allows otherwise, but walking has amazing postpartum benefits!
Benefits of walking:
- Helps your bowels get moving (No more constipation!)
- Helps with postpartum weight loss
- Keeps your blood flowing
- Closes the gap in your abdomen
- Helps alleviate joint aches and pains
- Helps combat the symptoms of baby blues and postpartum depression
6. Feed your baby
You might be thinking, ” well, duh!”. But, hear me out… There is a lot of pressure to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is great. I’ve breastfed all three of my children, and even breastfed the twins for 13 months. But, that isn’t the only way to feed your baby.
While I appreciate that hospitals, nurses, and doctors advocate for breastfeeding, it’s also challenging. When I had the twins, I felt like breastfeeding was the only way. Not just because I made it a goal to breastfeed, but that’s how the staff at the hospital made me feel. I was given supplemental formula “just in case”, but was made to promise that I wouldn’t use it unless I “absolutely had to”. Yes, those were the exact words. That’s a lot of pressure for a new mom.
Now, if you didn’t know, breastmilk can take a few days to come in. If your baby is hungry, and not getting enough from your breast, then by all means supplement as much as you’re comfortable with. You don’t want to start off exhausted, with a hungry, screaming baby, because yes, that can impact your mental wellbeing. So, feed your baby. No shame how.
7. Keep taking your prenatals
Taking prenatals, although important, is kind of tedious. If you are like me, and you get an upset stomach with prenatals, it can be one of the last things you want to do. But, even if you are no longer pregnant, you may still need those essential vitamins that are in prenatals. This is especially true if you decide to breastfeed. Unless otherwise directed by your physician, keep taking your prenatals through the postpartum stage. This may help with fatigue from low iron and blood loss, and give you a good dose of calcium that you may not be getting from your diet alone.
8. Stock your refrigerator/freezer/pantry
Stock your refrigerator, freezer and pantry before baby comes! Why? There’s a few reasons. While some may be antsy to get out of the house, it’s best you don’t overdo it by doing a full grocery run (especially if you have to take your little one with you). Also, it’s pretty common for a loss of appetite postpartum. This can be especially true for those who have the baby blues or postpartum depression. It can also be overwhelming trying to juggle postpartum recovery, cooking and taking care of a newborn. So, if there isn’t food readily available during these situations, you may find yourself skipping meals.
9. The 5 S’s
Some babies are more work than others. Some are peaceful angels. Some are colicky little monsters that don’t sleep for the first year (thanks food allergies and acid reflux!). But, every infant has a fussy period. The 5 S’s are the most important techniques in order to calm a baby, before and during a meltdown. They are:
- Side or stomach
10. Establish a routine
“Babies don’t take to routines until X weeks”. While that may be true, getting a routine started from day 1 is the number one way to maintain your sanity. This is how you avoid public meltdowns, because baby is hungry or overtired. This is how you are able to eat, shower and sleep. There are baby-led routines, parent-led routines and a combination of both. Decide what works best for you, your baby and your family, as soon as you can!
Are you currently pregnant? Check out this article on 11 things no one tells you about after you delivery a baby!