Postpartum Recovery: Tools that Helped me in the First 30 Days
Okay mama, get ready for some of the most magical moments of your life. Along with sleepless nights, a lot of diaper blowouts, tears (happy and sad... hello hormones), snuggles, bliss, leaky engorged boobs, helplessness, hopefulness, peace, and joy like you have never experienced before. Becoming a mama is life-changing and although I am not claiming to be an expert, I think the more we talk about the postpartum experience the more normalized it will become. Every woman's journey will look different, but I hope to help new mamas out by letting you in on not only what helped me throughout this period, but also what I could have done differently to aid me further in my recovery looking back a year later.
Okay mama, get ready for some of the most magical moments of your life. Along with sleepless nights, a lot of diaper blow outs, tears (happy and sad... hello hormones), snuggles, bliss, leaky engorged boobs, helplessness, hopefulness, peace, and joy like you have never experienced before. Becoming a mama is life changing and although I am not claiming to be an expert, I think the more we talk about the postpartum experience the more normalized it will become. Every woman's journey will look different, but I hope to help new mamas out by letting you in on not only what helped me throughout this period, but also what I could have done differently to aid me further in my recovery looking back a year later.
As Ives becomes a mama and we both obtain our postpartum exercise certificate through Dr. Sarah Duvall, we will begin to share more about the postpartum experience specific to exercise and how to approach recovery from that aspect, but I first wanted to dive into tools to help during those first 30 days of baby's arrival.
There is no one size fits all and there will be challenges and obstacles you will need to navigate yourself, but learning from others who align with your values and vibe is important too! To make it easy, I have broken it down into three main categories: Nutrition/Food, Physical, and Mental/Emotional health. When it comes to physical and especially mental/emotional this post just scratches the surface. Hormones play a huge role in your postpartum mental health and as always, seek guidance from a professional if you don't feel like yourself or need help navigating postpartum depression/anxiety. It's real and it's okay. You are never alone <3.
- Meal train This was hands down one of the best gifts we could have received. I would highly recommend having a friend set it up for you. Essentially, friends/family sign up to bring you a meal. I would recommend doing this 2-3X a week. With COVID19, they can simply drop it off at the door, which a lot of friends did any way even pre-COVID. You can also put in your food preferences, if you have any allergies or favorites.
- Daily Harvest or smoothie packs for nutrient dense lunches/snacks- I totally get that a smoothie isn't hard to make, but when you are sleep deprived it's nice to take the thinking out of it. Plus it's super easy to pack in all your essential macro (fats, proteins, and carbs) and micro nutrients this way.
- Instant Pot Recipes ready to go! I have linked our blog post to the Instant Pot if you haven't used it before. In the post I include some go to recipes, but there are tons out there if you want to start your own list to have ready to go!
- Freeze Meals in Advance- My recommendation is to freeze breakfast and lunch if you are doing a meal train. Easy breakfast burritos, lactation protein bites, etc. that are easy to thaw and grab.
- Tumbler and Silicon Straw- You will be SO thirsty and need to ensure you are drinking enough water to heal and produce milk, tell your partner in advance to be ready to fill it up regularly. Also, something about having a straw helped me drink more.
- EAT MAMA- I ordered some fun snacks from Thrive market. It's like the Costco for the health advocate, as a new mama having them delivered to your front door is so nice. I bring this up because as you start to nurse (if you decide to do so), you will need to eat more calories than you may think. There is a reason your body puts on extra fat when you are pregnant. It's partly to help with milk production, so dropping back down to your pre-pregnancy weight shouldn't be a goal. It may happen naturally and every woman will be slightly different, but in general eating lots of healthy grains, fats, and protein are both essential to heal and for milk production. I was personally eating a heck of a lot more food during this time period, both nutrient dense and plain ole' comfort food (AKA mac N' cheese and chocolate chip cookies with no remorse).
- Lactation Support Snacks- Easy to grab and super filling. Oats, chia, flax, and almonds all support lactation. These easy lactation chocolate chip balls are easy to make in bulk and freeze for later. It's also an excuse to make some lactation chocolate chip cookies!
- Prenatal vitamins- Continue to take your prenatal vitamins. Your body still needs it!
- REST- Plain and simple. The first 2 weeks should consistent of taking care of your baby and healing. Maybe you go on a walk to the kitchen or bathroom, but that's it mama. Heal baby heal.
- Padsicles- We talked about this in our baby essential's blog post, but here is a step by step guide on how to make them and why they are so great.
- Extra Thick Pads- Everyone recommends getting Depends, but I already had so much going on (couldn't walk to the bathroom or sit down on the toilet for 2 weeks without a walker) and preferred not to take my undies all the way off when I changed out my pad. But grab yourself some just in case, I could see them being nice for nighttime.
- Large Undies- Bring extras home from the hospital and/or you can also get you some from Amazon (linked) that are a little more durable.
- Witch Hazel Wipes/Spray- Tucks Wipes and/or Perineal Spray. To use for relief down under. Again, take some home from the hospital, but always nice to have extra at home!
- Hemorrhoid Cream and Inflatable Donut Cushion- Because unless you are a superhuman, you will need this.
- Peri Squirt Bottle- You can take the one they give you from the hospital and use that, but I also found the following from Frida Mom... which this design would have been nice looking back. Each time you go to the bathroom, you can squirt it down under so that you can heal properly.
- Stitz Bath- Soak to sooth the nether regions mama. You will thank us later.
- Silver Nursing Cups or Nipple Cream- If you want to splurge the nursing cups were life changing personally, I have no other experience nursing besides Kaila so take this for what it's worth, but I had very little nipple redness and used NO nipple cream because of these bad boys. You just place the cups on your nipple directly after nursing.
- Grip socks- I wore the hospital socks for the first 3 months. They were falling apart and wish I would have just bought myself some nicer grip cozy socks.
- Schedule a Pelvic Floor PT Appointment- I didn't and am wishing I had. I still plan to, but so much happens down there and even if you feel "fine" you should get it checked out so you can get ahead of any issues.
- Meditation- Calm App. Mindfulness and breath work play a huge role in postpartum healing. Even down to healing your pelvic floor.
- GRACE- The hormonal roller coaster is normal, especially as your milk comes in. I cried so many tears of joy and just couldn't believe the miracle I produced. Remind yourself that you just grew a human for 10 months and then gave birth for usually 24+ hours. Your body is going through some massive hormonal shifts to contract your uterus and produce milk. A lot of women will get the night sweats, so be prepared to just strip down or have an extra set of sleep clothes and body wipes/deodorant close to your bed for easy changing.
- PEPS group- Connecting with other mamas and parents who are in the same "newborn" phase has many benefits, both short term and long term. If this is not an option, consider connecting with other mamas virtually, via text to create some sort of support group to laugh, share stories, and simply know you are not alone during this isolated time. Om Mama is another great community to join if you are in the Seattle area (not just for the first 30 days!)
- Lactation Consultation- schedule in advance so you don't have to worry about it when you get home from the hospital. The sooner the better, it's okay to get guidance as you learn how to breastfeed and ensure your babe is latching properly. This can be a big struggle for a lot of mamas.
- Accept Help- As much help that is offered or consider hiring a postpartum doula if you don't have family/close friends in the area. Cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, or taking a shift to hold/feed baby (if you start pumping and/or they are taking a bottle) are all area to accept help. If someone wants to come meet baby, make sure they understand what they can do to help when visiting. They usually want to help, so don't feel bad putting them to work, seriously!
- Plan a Vacation- 3-6 months postpartum, plan to go somewhere sunny. Have no expectations for this trip besides to soak up some sunshine and quality time together as a new family. It may not be like your typical trips pre-baby (if you are anything like us). Rob, Kaila, and I actually went to Hawaii for a month and it was magical. It was so nice to slow down island style with no house projects on our minds and to genuinely take in the small moments that only happen once. I can do a post in the future on how we saved up enough money to make this work, because it's super doable, you just have to be creative. We joked on this trip that if we ever owned a company, we would make it a part of the maternity/paternity leave to go somewhere tropical and/or warm. It does wonders for your mental health.
- Simplify- This is probably obvious, but the more you can clean out, organize, and simplify the easier it will be when baby arrives. Mom brain is a real thing, atleast for me it was.
- Be Patient- Don't rush back to your life before baby. Be okay with slowing down and SERIOUSLY let your priority be bonding with babe and healing.
- Sleep Training- Kaila was a pretty good sleeper, so we didn't do anything formal. I did some research when she started to have regressions (because they are bound to happen), but I have heard wonders about Taking Cara Babies and I know Ives is going through it now and learning a lot. A sleeping baby is a happy mama.
That wraps it up! These are the to tools that come to my mind and if you are a mama yourself, PLEASE PLEASE share any essential tools/resources that helped you in the first 30 days postpartum.