Giving birth is a miraculous thing. It’s almost unbelievable that a new mom has just created a new life in her womb, and now the newborn is out in the world. Whether the mom in question did so via vaginal delivery or a C-section, she’s a hero. Nonetheless, many new moms feel unsure about how to proceed after bringing their little one home from the hospital for the first time. The postpartum period can be difficult, riddled with hormonal imbalances and physical challenges, not to mention a newborn who needs constant care. Often, postpartum moms may feel overwhelmed by everything that’s going on.
What can a new mom do to make the postpartum period easier on herself? It turns out that there are a few answers to that question, all of which are various versions of self-care or self-advocacy. Seeing as it’s hard to think about these things when you’re in a postpartum haze, it’s better to make a list of helpful aids ahead of time. Fortunately, you don’t need to make that list, because we made it for you! Read on to learn about some ways in which you can prepare yourself for the post-childbirth period, and even feel empowered in this confusing time.
Be kind to your body—it’s been through a lot.
You just carried a baby in your uterus for nine months and then gave birth to that baby—you’ve been through a whole lot and what your body needs is compassion and love. This can be harder than it sounds when you’re all hazy from the hormonal shifts you’re experiencing, but it helps to have some comfortable clothes around the house for you to wear throughout your postpartum recovery period.
While you may have plenty of great womens white blouse options in your closet, you probably won’t be wearing a white blouse around the house while you soothe your kiddo. Keep the blouses—you’ll want to dress up every once in a while in a pretty blouse and feel lovely—just make sure you also have postpartum clothes.
Let’s talk undies. Whether you have an incision from a c-section that you’re healing from or you’re experiencing postpartum bleeding after a vaginal delivery, you’ll find that your undies are suddenly very, very important to you. Buy some of the best postpartum underwear before you have that first contraction, and make sure that they are leak-proof, comfy around the waist, and made of breathable fabric.
Most women end up with huge pads in their underwear after childbirth, and that’s not comfortable. Your vagina deserves better, and great postpartum underwear can give you the comfort and reliability that regular underwear (even with a pad) just can’t.
Don’t miss any postpartum visits with your healthcare provider.
It’s easy to forget about seeing your healthcare provider or to postpone crucial visits after childbirth, but that’s not smart. Yes, your baby needs constant care, but your physical and emotional condition needs review as well. Postpartum depression and anxiety are more common than we’re taught to think, and a c-section incision or vaginal stitches can get infected unless they’re properly cared for.
Speak with your support people, whether that’s a partner or a friend, and make sure that they help you keep to these visits. Remember, you can’t care for your baby unless you’re caring for your own mental and physical health.
Get the knowledge you need to care for your infant in any situation.
One thing that many moms talk about is the fear that something will happen to their new baby that they’re not prepared for. Maybe the baby will fall, or a toddler will choke on something. It’s scary to be a parent, and just the thought that something could happen to a little one without you knowing what to do in the moment is terrifying.
One thing that helps is having the skills to manage a medical emergency. You don’t need to go to med school for this—just enroll in a CPR AED training course. Even if you already know some CPR or AED skills, CPR for infants and toddlers is different and you’ll want to understand how to administer CPR on a little chest, too. If you’re thinking that you don’t need another item on your pre-childbirth to-do list, don’t even worry about it.
You can get CPR and AED certification through an online course, studying with fully certified instructors. The instructors can teach you basic first aid as well, and having a certificate of completion on the wall will probably make you feel better about your abilities to manage in a crisis.
Being a new mama is an exciting, and sometimes, scary thing to do. Remember that many mamas have done this before you and that it gets easier after the first few months. In those first weeks, make sure to have comfortable postpartum underwear (and bras, too) in your wardrobe, see your healthcare provider and be honest about how you’re feeling, and get CPR, AED, and first aid training ahead of time. You’ve got this!