The childbearing year is a phase of life filled with ups and downs. If you ask around or do a quick Google search on postpartum, you might feel like your biggest focus needs to be on avoiding postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders.
That can be such a big downer and put you into a negative headspace.
Today, I want to share some tips on how to focus on having a happy and peaceful postpartum. If you take these tips and apply them to your own situation you will find that you are actively taking steps to also limit your risk for postpartum depression or PMADs at the same time.
It’s never too late to take control of your 4th trimester or postpartum period. But if you are focused on fertility or pregnant you have a bit of a head start with these tips. Once you give birth it’s time to simply allow yourself to be postpartum and to focus on taking care of yourself and your newborn baby.
GET INTO THE RIGHT MINDSET
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for postpartum. Learn about some of the shifts and changes that will be taking place and how you can embrace them for the best healing possible. Discuss concerns, and fears early on with your partner. Enlist the help of a family therapist or counselor that specializes in prenatal support if needed. It is also important to get into the right mindset in order to take the postpartum experience you envision and make it your reality after you give birth. You might face pushback or difficulty finding resources when you take steps to prioritize your postpartum needs. Get creative, set boundaries and don’t settle for less. You deserve to have the postpartum experience you desire.
EDUCATE YOURSELF AND LEARN WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Learn about what to expect when it comes to physical postpartum recovery, maternal mental health and newborn patterns. When you have a general idea of what to expect you will be less surprised when new things like growth spurts pop up. You can learn about what to expect postpartum in many ways like talking with friends or family that have recently given birth, taking a newborn care class, taking a postpartum care class, or even getting some hands-on practice with any newborns in your circle. I highly recommend taking a class or two so that you can get a well rounded and evidence based view of the postpartum and newborn stages. This will help you form realistic expectations that fit your life and style as a new parent.
CREATE A PLAN AND PREPARE YOUR HOME
Create your in-depth postpartum plan and think realistically about how you can get your mind, body and home ready for postpartum. Take some time to observe the flow of your home and how you can make it more postpartum and baby friendly.
Do you need to create storage and space in your kitchen for bottles and infant feeding supplies?
Would diaper stations on each level of your home be helpful?
How can you stock each bathroom for your postpartum care needs?
And what about creating cozy spaces to make nursing or feeding your baby more comfortable?
Also go through those baby shower gifts! Don’t wait until your baby is 6 months old to discover that they’ve outgrown (or won’t wear) some of their gifts or to realize that you’ve been gifted several bottles you don’t love or a baby soap that irritates your baby’s skin. Go through those gifts, stock what you think you will or want to use and return or pass on things you don’t think you will use. And the plus is that you can usually return things for store credit or gift cards to spend on things you will actually use.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE POSTPARTUM
Postpartum is a time of going inward and transformation. You will be growing and evolving into a new version of yourself that is now a parent. Your brain is really shifting and changing as you learn the tasks, skills and qualities you need to be a caregiver to your baby. Many new parents spend this time trying to hold on to their “old self” which can slow down the postpartum recovery process and hinder your transformation process. I challenge you instead to surrender to postpartum. Allow yourself to be and to observe yourself and how you evolve over the course of your postpartum recovery. Feel yourself moving through the stages of postpartum and watch yourself level up as you master more and more of what it means to be a new parent and fully embrace your new roll.
REST WELL. EAT AND DRINK WELL.
Give your body the things that are essential to healing and recovery. Restorative and restful sleep allows you body the time to repair the tissues and muscles that grew, nourished and birthed your baby. Nutritious and warm foods and drink (Think stews, soups, broths and teas.) give your body the fluids and nutrients needed to rebuild, replenish and restore your body as your recover from pregnancy and birth.
PRIORITIZE, SIMPLIFY AND DELEGATE. YOU’RE THE STAR OF THE SHOW HERE!
This is where your postpartum plan kicks in. If you have done the prep work, you have noticed the key areas where you need extra help and created a plan with resources to get you the support you need in those areas. Now is the time to start working your plan.
How can you get the support you need as quickly and as simply as possible?
Does that mean tapping into your postpartum circle of support?
Utilizing a meal train?
Working with a postpartum doula?
Now is not the time to have a bunch of extra things on your plate. Your main focus is going to be on yourself and your baby for the first several months after birth. Everything else can definitely be delegated.
REALLY TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
One question that I get often is “How long will it take for me to feel like myself again?” And there is no one answer because each new parent is unique and each pregnancy, birth and postpartum is unique. I can’t answer that question for you but I can say that you do not have to wait until a certain date to do the things that help you feel like you again.
If that means getting dolled up, getting a haircut or mani and pedi, then by all means do so!
If that means doing a mini upgrade to your postpartum wardrobe so that you feel put together, DO IT!
If that means getting a massage or going to a physical therapist for pelvic floor therapy so you can feel strong, then please do it.
Just like a new baby has been born, so too has a new mother. And both need babying, pampering and nurturing to have the best start possible. Please remember to nurture yourself.
PROCESS IT ALL. PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND POSTPARTUM.
It is so important that you take time to process your whole childbearing experience. Your pregnancy, your birth and your postpartum. This is not a one day process or something that you do quickly. It is a process that takes place over the several days, weeks, months and even years after you give birth. Early on, however, it is crucial that you set aside time to process your birthing experience so that those experiences don’t hinder your healing or growth and development as a new parent. There are many ways you can do this such as writing down the details after the birth and then also adding details and observations made by your partner, family and friends. You can also ask your provider to go over the record from your labor and delivery and walk you through their notes and your chart. If you feel you need more assistance processing your experience or you feel you experienced trauma, you can reach out to a birth worker that specializes in Birth Story Telling or for more intensive support a therapist that specializes in perinatal therapy. No matter how you give birth, your story is important and you deserve to be able to tell it in a way and space that feels right for you.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME.
And last but not least, give yourself time. It is normal to want to rush through postpartum and want to get back to normal especially after being pregnant for 9 months and everyone implying that birth is the end of all of the discomforts. When the truth is that postpartum can come with its own set of discomforts and challenges; from head to toe..
Pay attention to your discomforts and face those challenges head on but most importantly, just allow yourself to slow down, soak in and enjoy the postpartum time because if you do it right, it can be such a beautiful, peaceful and transformative time in your life.