Whether you’re a first time mom or a ‘last time mom’, like me, the first few weeks after giving birth are usually very challenging. I know what you’re thinking: “What?! Is it not enough that I carried this kid around for nine months and then went through a very physical labour that resulted in me exposing more of my mind, body and soul than I care to?!” Okay, calm down, Patricia. Yes, post-birth can be just as challenging as the actual labour was. But it doesn’t have to be. I’ve found a few simple things that has really helped to make my recovery after birth more comfortable.
Take time to take time
Well, for starters, I think that it’s swell that women are encouraged to get up and get going as soon as possible after birth. But I’ve found my greatest healing in taking it slow. This means yoga pants, no make up and staying in bed to nurse my newborn as much and as often as needed. Being relaxed and unrestricted not only helps to establish your milk supply (if you’re breastfeeding) it also takes the pressure off of trying to adult when you’re not physically and emotionally ready to. So sleep in, cuddle up, read that book or watch series and enjoy bonding with your baby.
Take your boobs seriously
I know. I just said “boobs”. If you’re serious about breastfeeding, get all the gear you need to make sure that you’re ready for your first few days of breastfeeding. Things that helped me were: 100% pure lanolin nipple ointment and nursing pads (I love Medela’s range), comfy breastfeeding undies and hot and cold soothers. Ladies, the first few days of breastfeeding can be quite challenging. Your “boobs” are doing things it may have never done before. And yep, there is a level of discomfort and pain to get through. Read up and mentally prepare yourself, to avoid crashing post-delivery.
I often hear people talk about the beauty of pre-prepped meals but I only fully understood the importance thereof, while recovering after giving birth to my baby boy. I was very blessed to have a support system that literally put together a meal roster – we had someone deliver supper to our door every night for a whole week! It was such a relief to know that my family was eating well and it gave me a much needed break from the kitchen. If prepping and freezing meals are not your thing, try to put some cash aside to cover (healthy) takeaways for a few days post-delivery.
How did this make the list?! Well, it did. And I’ll tell you why. Ever see those huge maternity sanitary pads that you have to wear post-baby? Well, guess what, your dainty little undies won’t hold it comfortably in place. Maternity undies are cheap, disposable and they are not tight fitting (your tender female parts will thank you). It’s a gross thought but trust me, it pays to not have to worry about staining your under garments when you’re focused on healing and spending time with your baby.
After birth pains
If you gave birth naturally, and do not have C-Sec stitches to tend to, a solid belly binder is your friend. This tummy tucker will help to tighten your mid-section post-birth and it also gives your tummy and back some support as your ‘insides’ finds its way back into position. By the way, after birth cramps can be brutal. Don’t fight it, embrace it. Preferably with some pain killers. No-ones judging you. (Another reason why you should stay in bed for as long as possible, yo!)
Beat the baby blues
Lastly, and most importantly, allow yourself space to feel every emotion that you may go through after giving birth. Show yourself some compassion (give yourself a break, woman!) and try to identify why you feel the way you do. And hey, it’s also okay to say “my hormones are wack right now, that’s all”. It doesn’t have to be a Dr Phil moment. Remember that your body took nine months to adjust to having a baby inside of it. It will take a couple of months to “readjust” so to speak… and that includes your hormonal levels too. You’re not crazy. You’re a human being. But if at any point you find yourself thinking things that may alarm you (i.e. hurting yourself or your baby) don’t be afraid to reach out and tell someone about it. Postpartum depression is a real thing and it can be beaten.