Have you ever stopped in the middle of something reeeeaally hard and wondered "Why did nobody warn me that it was going to be this hard?!?"
That was me in the middle of my first postpartum with my son. I did tons of prep for pregnancy, labor, and birth... but I did not realize that preparing for postpartum and getting care and support during this time is just as important as the birth itself.
In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of postpartum care after birth and provide you with a comprehensive guide to nurturing yourself and your newborn during this transformative time so you can enjoy those newborn snuggles while they last!
Understanding the Importance of Postpartum Care
This might seem obvious, but your immediate postpartum brings physical and emotional changes that require special attention and care. Your body needs time to heal after birth (and nine months of pregnancy!), and your emotions will fluctuate as your body and hormones transition from pregnancy into postpartum.
Prioritize proper rest, nutrition, and emotional support so you can have a smoother recovery and an overall sense of well-being as you grow into your new role as mama.
So how exactly do you do this? These are my best recommendations for setting up a plan that takes care of you and your family as you welcome home your newborn.
Creating a Postpartum Care Plan
Meal Train: Nourishing Your Body
Set up a meal train system with your loved ones. This can be a game-changer during the postpartum period. Not only does it alleviate the burden of meal preparation, but it also ensures that you're nourishing your body with warm, wholesome, nutritious food.
You can do a quick Google search and find several websites that make this process as easy as sending out a link to friends and having them choose a day to drop off a meal for you. Enlist your mom or best friend to set this up for you and send out the link so all you have to worry about is making space in the fridge for leftovers!
Hint: when you set this up, try and have meals delivered every other day. This spaces the visits out (if you choose to invite them in) and makes the meal train last longer.
Prepare Freezer Meals
Whether or not you have a meal train, planning and preparing freezer meals in advance can also be a lifesaver when you're adjusting to life with a newborn.
While I mainly used this for dinners, I also found having some pre-made breakfast burritos, smoothie packs, and even quick healthy snacks were so helpful in the early days.
Pinterest has tons of postpartum freezer meal ideas and I love that I could just dump something in the crockpot or put a casserole in the oven and have a full dinner ready when I needed it.
You can double up on your dinners a couple of times throughout the last few weeks of your pregnancy and slowly stock up your freezer, or you can invite a couple of people over to help you make a bunch in one day. With freezer meals on hand, you'll have more time to focus on bonding with your baby and taking care of yourself.
Set Up Care Stations
Care stations are designated areas in your home that streamline daily tasks and make life more manageable.
The first one I recommend is a Diaper Station. Include diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for baby, and anything else you might need for changing or grooming. This is great to keep on your nightstand the first few days baby is born so you don't even have to get out of bed in the early recovery days. You can also place one on each level of your home or in each room where you and baby will be spending your time.
I also recommend a Feeding Station with nursing supplies, burp cloths, breast pads, nipple cream, your Haaka or milk catchers, snacks, and a water bottle. Adapt this to your needs if you are pumping or bottle feeding... all new mamas need snacks and water ;)
It's important to recover in bed in the very beginning as much as possible so have multiple care stations or baskets nearby that allow you to rest and recover without having to get up.
Create a Chore List
Delegate household chores to your partner, family members, or hired help during the postpartum period. You can even create a chore list to share with friends who visit and ask if there's anything they can do. I know it can be stressful to sit in your bed and watch the laundry pile grow. But trust me when I tell you that letting your body heal and recover and adjust to life with a newborn is more important than having spotless floors.
The chores will be there next month. Figure out a way to outsource the bare minimum so you can prioritize self-care and bonding with your baby. Open communication and teamwork among family members will make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.
Nurture Your Mindset
It is just as important to care for your mental and emotional well-being as it is for your physical health. Don't be afraid to seek emotional support from your doula, a therapist, or a support group (you can find specific ones for lactation, mental wellness, or, parents with children the same age). Motherhood is beautiful, and it also requires great grace and resilience. Give yourself compassion and acceptance to navigate the ups and downs of this transformative journey.
Get Your Stakeholders on Board
Surround yourself with supportive family and friends who can offer emotional support, listen, and offer practical help.
Have a conversation with them about your postpartum care plan. Involving others who can help care for you (and not just baby) is essential for a supportive and nurturing environment.
Do your best to communicate your needs and expectations, set boundaries (especially with those early visitors), and don't be afraid to ask for help. Build a strong support system so that you have the support and assistance necessary to thrive during the postpartum period.
Take Care of Future You with a Newborn
Caring for yourself becomes even more challenging with a newborn, but it's crucial for your overall well-being.
Once you are ready to integrate back into "normal life", carrying your baby in a wrap or carrier allows you to do housework, cook, shower, or even exercise while keeping your little one close. Wear your baby while running errands, attending appointments, or enjoying walks outside. It promotes closeness, soothes fussiness, and offers light cardio for you.
Incorporate quick self-care bursts throughout the day. Splash water on your face, do a few stretches, practice deep breathing, or enjoy a few minutes of guided meditation. Stock up on healthy snacks and easy meals. Having nutritious options readily available prevents unhealthy choices when hunger strikes due to lack of time or energy.
Prioritize rest and sleep whenever possible. Don't push yourself too hard, and remember that recovery takes time.
Self-care postpartum is not selfish, it's essential. By taking care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to care for your baby and enjoy this precious time in your life.
I'm going to say that again because I think it's really important: By taking care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to care for your baby and enjoy this precious time in your life.
I also want you to know that you are worth taking care of because you are worth taking care of. Yes, you'll care for your baby better. Yes, you'll care for your family and friends better. But most importantly, you'll be taken care of too and that's important in its own right.
I hope this post has helped you see how vital postpartum care after a home birth is on your journey into motherhood. You deserve care and support during this incredible time. Take time to nurture yourself, and surround yourself with those who will nurture you as you nurture and cherish the precious moments with your newborn.
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