Even with a positive birth experience, postpartum can hit you like a freight train! Amiright?
Listen mama, I’ve been there. With my first, every day felt like a roller coaster of love, gratitude, anxiety and confusion. I was clueless!
- Was she getting enough milk?
- How long should I nurse for?
- Should I wake her up?
- How long will it take me to heal?
- Is this all NoRmaL!?
Sis, you’re not alone!
Our performance-driven American culture is FAILING mothers in the postpartum.There, I said it. We have over a dozen prenatal visits and ONE postpartum check at 6 weeks. The lack of care for women during postpartum is dismal at best…
When you couple the lack of support, the pressure to do it ALL, and do it PERFECTLY, mothers are pushed deeper into anxiety, isolation and Postpartum Depression.
The postpartum is a time to HEAL, rest and bond with your baby- not a time to “bounce back.”
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s because you were never meant to do this alone! Remember, you CAN’T do it all (and please don’t try!). A little preparation goes a long way! Caring for a newborn is a full time job and requires a TEAM of people to support the new mama.
Here are some things I learned that reduced my anxiety big time as a FTM and made me feel prepared and supported:
1. Plan Ahead
Meal Trains: Meal trains are a great way for people to bless new moms by bringing a hot meal or even ordering the family take-out. You can even prepare frozen meals yourself towards the end of pregnancy. I recommend at least 2 weeks of meals.
Mama’s Helper: Schedule someone to come help with household tasks like laundry and dishes (Even better! Hire a Postpartum Doula!). Or set these expectations with your partner ahead of time.
Childcare: If you have other children, schedule some play dates with family members or friends so you can have alone time with your new baby. They need a break too.
2. Take a Breastfeeding Class and Hire an IBCLC
Don’t wait until you’re experiencing problems with breastfeeding to get help! Take a class where you learn the physiology of breastfeeding, proper latching, red flags, and breastfeeding positions.
Hire an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to come for a home visit within the first week of birth and then schedule 1-2 more follow-ups. Problems can arise once your milk comes in that may not have been apparent in the first visit.
If you can’t afford to hire an IBCLC, find a Baby Café near you. Baby Cafés are free, drop-in, informal breastfeeding support groups offering ongoing professional lactation care and intervention. Head to babycafeusa.org to find one near you!
*Breastfeeding Tip – Learn the difference between nutritive and non-nutritive suckling! This is a huge time saver and will also have your nipples and your sanity!
3. Room In with Baby and Throw Out the Schedule!
Women tend to obsess about having their babies on a schedule and keeping up with normal everyday life in the postpartum, but that isn’t reality and frankly can cause more depression and anxiety in new mothers.
You and your baby should spend at least the first week (ideally two weeks) mostly in bed together (bonus if you’re both naked!). This allows you to TRULY rest, release oxytocin for bonding, and heal. Have people bring you food so that you don’t even have to get up!
4. Support your Physiology and Mental Health
Postpartum healing can be rough, especially if you’ve had a traumatic birth or are recovering from tears or a c-section. Take it easy on yourself (your body just did something incredible!) and prioritize your mental health and the rebalancing of your hormones.
When you understand that the postpartum has a physiological sequence just like birth, you can tap into the hormones that promote healing and bonding. You can even re-create the birth high even if you missed it in the Golden Hour!. (Check out the Postpartum Bliss E-Course on how to do that!)
5. EAT… a lot of nutrient dense food.
The Postpartum is NOT the time to go on a diet. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and your body and mind needs adequate nutrition to function.
Eat nutrient dense whole foods and/or supplements with omega-3s, folate, choline, iron, selenium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D. These nutrients are crucial for healing, replenishing after blood loss, and supporting breastfeeding.
6. Finally, see a Pelvic Floor Therapist.
If you have the means, invest in your recovery by getting a postpartum massage, seeing the chiropractor and receiving Pelvic Floor Therapy.
*Pelvic Floor Tip – If you want to avoid tearing and having to repair your pelvic floor, learn how to push physiologically! I cover this in great detail in my Pain Free Birth E-Course in Module 5: Second Stage Labor: Mastering Pushing.
Many of these things are STANDARD CARE in other countries, but sadly not in the US. You’ll never regret prioritizing yourself in the postpartum. It’s not selfish – it actually makes you a better mother!
You can set yourself up for success by getting the support, help, and education you need to have a beautiful postpartum period with your baby. You’re worth it, Mama.
Here are some more helpful resources for the postpartum:
- The First Forty Days by Heng Ou and Marisa Belger
- The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- Postpartum Support International
If you want to learn how to THRIVE in the postpartum then the Postpartum Bliss E-Course is for you!
- Module 1: The journey of Motherhood
- Module 2: Postpartum Physiology
- Module 3: Hacking the Postpartum
- Module 4: Breastfeeding Masterclass