As I’m literally about to have my third child at any moment, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about postpartum recovery. This topic is very “hot” right now, and thankfully so, but back when I had my first two kids the postpartum period was very much pregnancy’s dirty little secret. Almost nobody talked about what it was going to be like AFTER the baby came out. And in many ways, the postpartum period is more challenging than any phase of pregnancy! What a woman’s body goes through to grow and birth a healthy pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle– but I think we forget sometimes that it is also a very real bodily trauma! And it can be an emotional one too in many ways…or at least a monumental emotional and mental shift, that can carry with it many different feelings and memories. Birth requires recovery in so many ways. And we don’t talk about postpartum recovery nearly often enough! I’m not an expert by any means, but I have been through it twice– and I’ve learned a lot. I figured now would be as good a time as any to share the various ways I’m preparing for my own postpartum recovery this time around!
Preparing for Rest
This is the first time I’ll be taking any kind of maternity leave, and I’ve been preparing for it nonstop for several months now. I went back to work 7-10 days postpartum with both other kids. I can’t afford for my business to just “go dark” without me for six weeks (the most time I can take) so I’ve outlined a very detailed guide to what you can expect from this blog while I’m taking some time to rest and recuperate! I feel SO grateful that I’m able to take this time this recovery period, and I know many women get much less maternity leave (or none at all). This has been a huge Self Care decision for me, and I’m really looking forward to feeling good about just laying in bed with my newborn, and snuggling with him and my older two as well. I think we all really need it right now.
I’ve had such supportive friends stepping in to help me create some scheduled and structured care during my postpartum period, including offers to stay with us and help, commitments to certain days taking my older kids to activities during times I don’t have help at home, as well as an organized Meal Train for the weeks after birth. I will also have the hired help with my kids that I normally have while working. It’s not lost on me that this is a huge luxury, and as somebody who has had PPD and PPA in the past, I consider this a really important part of my postpartum recovery period while I let my hormones settle and find time to check in with myself about how I’m doing and feeling. My hormones crashed out pretty bad both other times around the three to five-day postpartum mark, and I definitely didn’t respect or honor that time in my previous postpartum periods. I truly feel that powering through it had lasting negative effects on my motherhood experience. This time, I feel much more open to not feeling scared or shameful about my hormonal dips and crashes, and I think as a result I will feel stronger through them. I now know how normal it is, and I wish I had known to expect them my first couple of times!
Sorry for anybody who is squeamish, or has not birthed a baby, and you should probably stop reading here. LOL. I bled for 2-3 weeks after having both of my kids, and I’ve found that being really prepared helps a lot. I like the “mesh panties” with a big ‘ole maxi pad, but I also have Depends on hand for the first few days because I find them more comfortable and secure than just the maxi pads. I also like to have a few sets of dark-colored sweatsuits or PJ’s for the inevitable leaks that occur. Make sure not to have your fave sheets on your bed for at least two weeks after birth!
Mesh Postpartum Underwear
Organic Cotton Jogger Set
Gisele PJ Set
Your vagina takes a beating during birth, ladies! It’s so important to care for yourself well when it comes to perineal recovery and to feel the right to invest in yourself in a physical, gentle way. Before labor, I like to make Witch Hazel Pads that I put in the freezer. I dump a bottle of witch hazel in a bowl, I unwrap maxi pads (keep the stickers on) and let them soak in some of the witch hazel, then I squeeze the excess out of each, put them in individual ziplock bags, and stack them in the freezer. These are CLUTCH for those 48 hours postpartum. You stick one in your underwear and it really helps soothe and depuff. I also love the Earth Mama Perineal Spray and Sitz Bath. You can also get an actual sitz bath to soak in the days postpartum if that feels good to you. I also cannot stress enough the importance of a Perineal Spray Bottle for when you pee! Fill it up with warm water and squirt it on your perineum as you pee to ease the stinging in the first week after labor. This really helped me a lot.
T. N. Dickinson's
Herbal Sitz Bath
Upside Down Peri Bottle
I love My Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow. Maybe that doesn’t fall under postpartum care specifically, but it’s always contributed to a much easier breastfeeding experience for me, so I think it counts! I love that it’s firm and can support me with larger breasts, as well as the fact that it clips around my body so it feels very ergonomic and secure. I also swear by Earth Mama nipple butter. It’s all-natural and you don’t have to make sure it’s all wiped off before baby breastfeeds, which makes me feel more comfortable. I’ve used it both times with my other kids and it’s just so soothing to those postpartum nipples.
Deluxe Nursing Pillow
My Brest Friend
Aches and Pains
I have ended up taking Tylenol after both other births, as I had lots of aches and pains– not only in my Lady Parts, but in my entire body from all the tensing and muscle contractions of birth. From the suggestion of my midwives, I also introduce Homeopathic Arnica pellets into the routine, as well as Arnica Gel as needed on specific body parts – and I’ve seen great results. Warm meals like soups, teas, and bowls with a rice/grain base also have really helped me with body healing in the past.
These are just a few tips and tricks from my own experiences as a Mom, but please share if you have any gems of your own! The Motherhood Community is such a powerful tool when it comes to the postpartum experience and I wish I had reached out more with my first two kids when it came to feeling good physically and emotionally. I welcome any helpful comments below!
Photographs by Julia Dags