The postpartum phase immediately after birth is one that you will remember forever. Postpartum is the time after you have a baby like prenatal is the time before your baby arrives. Here some tips for the hours and days immediately following birth.
Immediately After Birth
● If you give birth in the hospital, consider asking the nurses for consolidated care so that you can get a little rest. This is when the nursing team takes vitals, gives medicines, and checks on you all at the same time. This helps keep interruptions to a minimum.
● Bring a white noise machine
(or just use an app) to the hospital with you. It will cancel out the annoying noises that you aren’t used to. It can also help you and your new baby sleep! Your baby was used to the constant sound of your breathing and heartbeat in utero and so white noise can be familiar and soothing for your baby.
● Take advantage of the mesh underwear
provided by the hospital or invest in some adult briefs. Sometimes, blood will pool up inside of women (while she is laying down after birth) and then release suddenly when she sits up. Using an alternate form of underwear can save you from ruining your own.
● While in the hospital, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat foods rich in fiber, because the medical team will need to know that you have passed a stool before feeling comfortable releasing you. If they do release you without this big hurdle behind you, it will still be far less uncomfortable if you have had plenty of water and fiber. Once you are home you may want to use a stool under your feet or a Squatty Potty®️ to make using the toilet more comfortable.
● If the hospital asks you if you’d like a sitz bath
, say, “Yes!” These disposable tubs sit nicely in any top rated toilet
and can provide you with tremendous relief
during the next phase of your postpartum period. Just because you may not want a sitz bath right after birth doesn’t mean you won’t be thankful that you were able to take one home after sensations return over the next few days. If a sitz bath isn’t for you consider getting a sitz spray. You’ll also love the Peri Bottle you’ll get in the hospital. Use it to rinse instead of wipe after using the restroom.
First Week Postpartum
The second postpartum phase is often a blur, but as a postpartum doula, I can help you get through this phase more easily.
● Whether breast or bottle feeding, your baby will need to eat every two-three hours during the first week or two. Sometimes babies will sleep through a feed early on and it can be challenging for them to make up those missed calories. So set an alarm every two to three hours to remind you that it’s time for your baby to eat. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s much less overwhelming than feeding a crying baby. Frequent feeding will also help establish a good supply of breastmilk.
● Load up on healthy snacks! Having snacks that are one-handed, and easy to eat are wonderful in the early days of mothering. Snacks off and on throughout the day can help YOU get the calories you need. Also keep a water bottle nearby so you stay hydrated.
● Remember that most of your normal responsibilities can wait. This first week, it’s good for your priorities to be focused on skin-to-skin time with your baby (for both parents!), and plenty of rest/relaxation.
● It’s ok to limit visiting hours at your home. Remember you are allowed to limit the number of visitors, the length of visits, and choose the visitors you welcome into your home. These first few weeks are very important for bonding. While many people will want to bond with your new baby right away, the bond between you and your baby is the most important one to develop at this time.
● Adjust your expectations. Often what you thought having a newborn would be like, isn’t the reality. Be gentle with yourself. When you feel overwhelmed or frustrated try to remember you’ve only been a new parent for a few days! As with anything the beginning can be a challenge. The more children I’ve had the better I’ve gotten at asking for what I need. My wish for first-time parents is that they don’t wait as long as I did to find the helpers they need. If you haven’t already this can be a great time to reach out for postpartum doula support.
Your postpartum period isn’t over just because you made it through the first week. Your body may need six to eight weeks (or more!) to recuperate. That makes this the perfect time to learn more about your tiny new human.
● Learn to understand your baby’s language. Recognize your baby’s cries. Get yourself a copy of Dunstan Baby Language
, because it can make understanding your baby’s whimpers and cries easier.
● Plan for helpers! Your loved ones might ask you if you need any help. You are supposed to take it easy on your body for at least the first six to eight weeks after delivery. If people ask you what they can do for you, consider letting them vacuum your house or prepare a meal. They might also enjoy holding the baby while you take a shower or rest. Remember, if you feel you have to get dressed and clean the house for your helpers, they are guests and not helpers. A newly postpartum mom doesn’t need houseguests, she needs helpers!
● Remember that your hormones are in a state of fluctuation
right now. Most new mothers experience the baby blues in the first two weeks after baby arrives. Your emotions could be unpredictable. This is to be expected. As the weeks go by it’s good to discuss where you are at emotionally with your midwife, or your doctor, especially if you have more bad days than good. If you need support overcoming postpartum depression or anxiety one resource to learn more is www.postpartum.net
● Be kind to yourself. Look for a mother’s group near you. Chatting with others who are in the early days of parenting is a wonderful way to normalize the new experience of motherhood.
For more information about the early days and weeks of parenting check out www.theafterbabylady.com/blog
Jill Reiter is the owner at The After Baby Lady Postpartum Doula Services LLC and has supported over 100 parents in her hands-on work as a postpartum doula. Jill also teaches classes about bringing your baby home and speaks to mother’s groups all over Metro Detroit. She has several other wonderful postpartum doulas on her team to support the growing families in Metro Detroit. If you’d like support, education, and hands-on help with your new baby reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
to learn more.