Tips For Postpartum

Most first time parents will take classes, read books, and get so much advice (wanted or not) from family and friends on having a baby.  But there’s one part that always gets overlooked - postpartum.  Postpartum refers to first 6 weeks right after baby is born.  

The first 40 days of your baby’s life, often called “confinement” is a time for you to heal from birth and get to know your new baby.  Different cultures have different traditions and practices for the confinement period. But generally, the new mother is supposed to do little house work and rest as much as she can during this time.  My suggestions for your confinement are:

Take care of yourself.

  • Use a mirror to look at your perineum (or look at your cesarean incision). This way, if you experience problems, you will have a baseline to know if something is different (like increased swelling, redness, tenderness, or drainage).  

  • Use the Dermoplast (benzocaine topical) spray before having a bowel movement or even urinating - it'll make the process a whole lot more comfortable and a lot less scary.  Many hospitals will have this in the postpartum room, but if not, be sure to ask for it right away.  

  • Have ice packs and/or a sitz bath on hand to help the perineum heal.

  • Keep drinking water to flush out the excess fluids and keep hydrated. 

  • Get outside.  Fresh air and short walk can help to restore and rejuvenate.  

  • Have a healthy snack each time you feed baby, even if you don't have an appetite.  

  • Partners should try and give moms one uninterrupted hour to herself each day. She can bathe, sleep, read, or anything that she wants. This gives Dad time to bond with baby too.

  • For c-section moms remember not only did you have a baby, but you had major surgery and your recovery may be longer. 

  • Take a pillow for the car ride home to support your  c-section incision for the bumps in the road.

Sleep when baby sleeps.

As tempted as you may be to get caught up on chores, don’t!  Let the dishes and laundry pile up.  You need your rest to recover from birth and for waking at night to take care of baby’s needs.  You’re little one won’t know day from night at first, so your longest stretch of sleep may be during the day at first. 

Get the hang of breastfeeding.

Remember that breastfeeding is an acquired skill for you and baby.  If you’re having any concerns with breastfeeding or pain (beyond a bit of sensitivity), do not suffer in silence, please seek help through La Leche League or a Certified Lactation Counselor.  (Doctors and midwives are wonderful, but they may not have any lactation training or experience.)

Set limits for visitors.  

  • It is difficult for new mothers to set limits, but it’s so very important.  You won’t get another chance to have these first moments with your baby.  You need to spend time bonding as a family.  

  • Moms need to rest after giving birth, not worry about entertaining family and friends.  

  • Baby's hunger cues are often missed when there are too many visitors for long stretches of time.  Nurse the baby as soon as you notice hunger cues.  

  • Ask visitors to wait until you've been home for at least a couple weeks.  And when you do allow visitors, don't be afraid to ask people to leave if you’re getting tired or baby’s getting overwhelmed.  

  • Stay in your pajamas - most people will be less likely to overstay their welcome.  

  • If your visitor had kids, you can ask them to leave their little ones at home.  

  • While we’re taking about setting limits, turn off your phone too.

Let others help.

  • Accept help from anyone willing to cook a meal, run errands, or do housework so you can rest and spend more time enjoying your new baby.  

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help either.  

  • Do not let others care for the baby so you can do housework.  Again, this is a time for rest and bonding with your baby.  Hunger cues might be missed if someone else is watching the baby for a long stretch of time.  

Get support.

Once you’re "settled" in with the baby, reach out to a Mothers’ group to get out of the house and receive and provide support to other new Mom's.  La Leche League can be a great support for nursing mothers.  

Sleep deprivation and shifting hormones can make you feel crazy at times but it will get better. You will find your new norm. Motherhood is not all cute onesies and hair bows - it's more like poopy onesies and newborn rashes, and that's OK.  Don't worry about what others might think. Trust yourself and your instincts. Pick and choose the advice, tips, expert advice etc. that works for you.  And know that if you’re worried about being a good mom, you already are.  

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