Postpartum is a crazy and scary time for many mothers for all sorts of reasons. We are dealing with a lot of changes in our own bodies; our hormones are undergoing significant changes, we are recovering from birth, and we are also exhausted, and sleep deprived. In addition to this, we are also in charge of caring for a tiny infant, when many first-time mothers have barely spent any time with babies. In the absence of the mythical “village”, we are also doing much of this important work on our own. As a mother myself, I remember how surreal it feels to be exhausted, leaking milk everywhere, bleeding, dealing with vagina stitches, and getting to know my precious little baby, all while constantly being scared that I didn’t know enough about how to take care of a baby! But after experiencing it myself firsthand, twice, and now talking to many other mothers around the world, I have put together my six tips for postpartum recovery for new mothers.
Tip number 1: Rest
It sounds so simple, but it can be so hard to do! Resting is so important in postpartum. Your body needs time to recover and heal. You have been through something very physically draining, and there is a physical recovery that needs to happen. You will also be up at night a lot feeding and caring for baby, so you need to make sure you prioritise your own rest during the day. Many people will say “sleep when the baby sleeps”. While this isn’t generally practical, having rest while the baby sleeps is important, and try to set aside a nap time for yourself during the early postpartum period. Even if you don’t actually sleep, having a rest is really important and beneficial for you. Remember, you can’t take care of your baby if you can’t take care of yourself.
Tip number 2: Walk
It seems surprising that these first two tips are in such contrast to each other, but really, they complement each other. You do not need to be doing any strenuous exercise during your early postpartum period, but there are many benefits to going to on slow and gentle walks. Going for walks helps prevent blood clots and helps you to keep up your cardiovascular fitness. Being out in the sunshine also helps improve mood, and many babies love going outside, and enjoy the movement and new sensory experiences of being outside. You only need to do a very short walk to begin with and listen to your body. When you feel you have done enough, don’t push yourself to go any further.
Tip number 3: Babywear
Did you know that babies that are worn in a sling or baby carrier cry less than those that aren’t? Babywearing is an amazing way for you to take care of your baby, while also being able to go on with your day. Babies find being close to their parents soothing, and the combination of listening to your heartbeat, and gently moving with your body helps calm babies’ nervous systems. In addition to these wonderful benefits for babies, babywearing is also helpful to parents. It allows parents to have both hands free in order to complete tasks they need to do, care for older children, as well as going out for walks and completing chores. If you’re out in public with a newborn, babywearing is also a great way to keep other people from touching your baby and potentially spreading germs or illnesses onto your baby.
Tip number 4: Organise help in advance
Every new mother needs help and support for her postpartum period. It simply isn’t possible for you to get your own rest and recovery while also completing everything else you used to do before you had your baby. You need rest, you need time to recover, and you need someone to assist you with things like housework, cooking, chores, and care of other children. Your partner can be an amazing support to help with these tasks, however, try to organise some extra help if your partner is planning to return to work soon after your baby is born. If you can afford to hire help, a postpartum doula, or even a cleaner, are excellent for helping you to get the rest you need. If these options aren’t viable for you, ask family and friends if they can help. Help could be as simple as picking up supplies at the store, cooking a meal, folding some laundry, or cleaning. It can be so hard for mothers to accept help, but this is really important for yourself and your baby.
Tip number 5: Take advantage of every convenience
We are so lucky to have so many conveniences in our modern world. Order your groceries online and have them delivered, order your baby supplies in advance for delivery, buy meal kits or readymade meals, and take advantage of every opportunity you can to make your life easier. This is not laziness or selfishness; this is self-care and prioritising your own recovery and rest in your postpartum period.
Tip number 6: Have a postpartum recovery kit ready
Prepare all the items you will need for your postpartum recovery in advance and put them together in a little basket or bag so you can always have them with you. You will need all the following items: pads, giant underwear (some people love the disposable ones!), after-birth recovery spray, belly oil or cream, nursing pads, nursing balm or cream, cold and heat packs for breastfeeding, comfortable clothing, lip balm, a water bottle, and some snacks. You may also find some other items that you would like to have with you to feel confident and comfortable in your postpartum period.
All your postpartum needs, as well as beautiful gifts, can be found here at Baby and Mumma Gifts.
Remember, you need to prioritise your own rest and recovery in your postpartum period. You cannot look after your baby well if you are not looking after yourself. The more support you can get the better you will be.
Rachel Preston Broughton is a mum of two beautiful children, and the owner of a small business making special gifts for new mums and babies. Rachel loves blog writing for her business, and loves spending as much time as possible out in the sunshine with her two beautiful kids. Check out Rachel’s business: Baby and Mumma Gifts and her blog page Instagram, and facebook