So you’re having a baby, I’m honestly so excited for you! I love everything about being a mom so I hope you do too! Even though I’ve loved my journey into motherhood, that doesn’t mean there has been hard times.
Whether this is your first baby or your fifteenth baby, the first few weeks at home will be hard.
You’re body is going through massive changes. You now have to develop a completely new routine. Most of the things you planned won’t fall into place the way you would hope. The hormones. Oh, the hormones. The list goes on…
While everyone’s situation is unique, I want to share with you some of the tips and advice that seriously helped (dare I say, saved) me during my first few weeks home with Maya.
HORMONES ARE SO REAL
Pre-pregnancy, I used to consider myself very logical, calm, level-headed and generally NOT emotional. My husband and I joke that we switched stereotypes somehow because he’s sensitive and emotional and I’m logical and calm. So nothing can describe my surprise and complete lack of preparation for the emotions that came with postpartum. My own mom said “you’ll probably be a bit emotional” to which I replied “eh, I’m sure I’ll be fine”. WOW, was I wrong.
Listen, sometimes you might just cry because you can’t open the bag of chips. You might cry when someone posts a picture of your baby. You also might cry tears of joy when you finally got a good latch at 3:00AM. There will be a lot of crying.
Here’s the thing about hormones. They effect everyone differently AND they can be completely random throughout the day. They affect your body, your emotional state, your thoughts, your SLEEP. The important thing to remember is that they should pass. Also, most people in your life will understand when you snap at them because they didn’t perfectly fold the hand towel in the guest bath.
There’s also a lot of really great resources out there for you. Baby blues and postpartum depression are very real thing and many women experience it. Talk to someone, because you aren’t in this alone. Check out Postpartum Support International or talk to your doctor. Check your health insurance and see if they have resources available. Just talk to someone!
SELF-CARE IS IMPORTANT
During the safety announcements on an airplane, if you need to use the drop-down oxygen masks they say “place your mask on first before you help others”. Do you know why they say that? Because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. Well this is also true for being a mom. If you’re not taking care of your very basic needs, you won’t be able to care for your family.
Now, I’m not talking about the “I get my nails done every week” kind of self-care. I’m talking about the “I actually brushed my hair today” kind of self-care.
Don’t expect everything to magically go back to the way it was before you had baby. Your priorities will change. Your needs will change. You don’t need to put on makeup and do your hair everyday.
Hell, you don’t even need to shower every day. But you should be doing enough to make you feel like you can face the day.
Sometimes you won’t be able to brush your hair until noon. Sometimes, you won’t change out of the same yoga pants for 3 days straight. That’s okay. You just need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you are enough.
To be clear, this is a no-judgement zone. I’m not telling you to put on clean undies for the sake of humanity. THIS IS FOR YOU, MAMA!
HELP, THE 4 LETTER WORD
Accept help when it’s offered and ask for it when it’s needed. You’ve probably already heard this one a billion times. But for some reason, I still feel the need to mention it. Do you know why? Because most of us still don’t take this advice!
Don’t try to do it all.
Ask friends, family or whoever is willing to help. I personally recommend that they help with housework or cooking so you can get much needed baby bonding time. But if you need them to take baby for a bit so you can shower, that’s great too. Try to spend those first few weeks with your baby instead of washing dishes!
If you have other children, you’ll definitely want some help in a bunch of other ways. Remember to make some one on one time with older siblings and get help with baby!
PREPARE A POSTPARTUM KIT
MAMAS, THIS IS SO CRITICAL. A couple weeks before you are due, prepare a postpartum kit for your bathroom. I would recommend making a kit for each bathroom if you have multiple. I prepared my kit at the same time I started packing my hospital bags. Check out my hospital bag packing guide here or click the link to that post below! Make sure you subscribe to get the printable hospital bag checklist too!
These recovery items are going to be super necessary for several weeks so you want them to be handy and available anytime you need to use the restroom. You don’t want to be caught with your pants down…literally.
Basically you’re going to wash instead of wiping for awhile. You need this, believe me. I recommend the MamaFrida because it’s made to spray upside down. I filled mine up after each use with cool water so it was ready for the next time. You can add a splash of witch hazel too.
Tucks pads are typically used for hemorrhoids but they are soothing and cool to put on top of your pad or ice pack. I actually opted for these over the ice packs most of the time because they weren’t as bulky and they still felt cool on my lady bits. AND you might get hemorrhoids so there ya go.
I would recommend getting a few sizes but opt for the overnight variety to tame the flood. Some of my mama friends have recommended using disposable underwear like these Always Discreet ones. I’m actually going to be getting a pack of these to test out when/if we have another baby.
Keep an extra pair of underwear in your kit. You’re going to bleeding a lot so it’s not uncommon to go through a few pairs a day. You aren’t going to want to wear your sexy panties anytime soon so go with some cheap high wasted ones (definitely go bigger than your normal size). Or go the disposable underwear route that I mentioned above.
I used both Dermoplast and the Earth Mama Perineal Spray. I actually recommend getting both of them. I used the Dermoplast much more in the first few days because I really needed the pain relief. Of course, this isn’t a very “natural” product so keep that in mind. I also go my can free from the hospital so why not?
In the long run, I used the Earth Mama Perineal Spray for much longer and actually went through the whole bottle. Once the immediate pain subsided, I tended to just use this one instead of the Dermoplast. It’s great for a nice cooling spritz and it also smells great (Dermoplast, not so much).
While you’re in the hospital, they probably gave you some perineal ice packs to use. Well you can buy more of them! I bought a box of them from Amazon (keep in mind there’s 24 in here and should be more than you need) and used a few of them once I was home. These ones are supposed to be absorbent so you don’t have to use a pad when you use them. I actually thought they were a bit uncomfortable because they were bulky so I didn’t use them as often as I thought I would. But now I have a lot more if I ever need them again!
FIND A LACTATION CONSULTANT AND A BREASTFEEDING CLASS
I can say with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed without these 2 resources. I seriously struggled with breastfeeding at first. Turns out it’s not as simple as just whipping out your boob every few hours. My milk took its sweet time to come in and when it did I got super engorged because we were struggling with latching. It was hard and painful and frustrating.
Luckily, my hospital provided a lactation consultant during the hospital stay and follow ups were free. My consultant was beyond wonderful and seriously made my first few weeks trying to breastfeed so much better. I highly recommend finding one because they actually give you personalized help!
I also took an awesome breastfeeding class offered by my hospital 2 months before my due date. It was very helpful and informative. If you can, find one because you’ll at least be somewhat prepared. Your hospital might have one available or there’s several online classes.
Check with your insurance if it’s covered or you might be able to use your HSA/FSA to pay for it like I did.
DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SAYING NO TO VISITORS
Don’t feel obligated to host visitors right now. Yes, everyone wants to see baby but you have to do what is right for your sanity.
If you need people to wait a couple weeks until they visit? Tell them.
If you have visitors over and they’re wearing out their welcome? Tell them.
You are recovering. You are learning. And I guarantee you that you will be tired.
If you DO have visitors, don’t feel obligated to entertain them, feed them, or placate them. Don’t even feel obligated to put on real clothes. I actually spent most of my postpartum days in my maternity yoga pants and a robe even though my in-laws came to visit.
I found the softest, cutest, most wonderful robes at Milkmaid Goods (they even have pockets!). They’re super cute and totally presentable enough to wear with guests. I still wear mine. All. The. Time.
Okay, you’re not actually going to want to be naked. During this time, you should focus on comfort and simplicity.
Most of your pre-pregnancy clothes are probably not going to fit yet. And you’re maternity clothes will probably start to be too big or at least awkward. I would suggest finding a few loose fitting tops, stretchy leggings and maybe some postpartum jeans.
If you’re going to be breastfeeding, find some easy access tops so you don’t have to fumble with shirts while you’re learning to nurse.
If you can, clear out one drawer or part of your closet for these go-to options instead of fumbling through the sea of “this doesn’t fit” everyday.
I spent the majority of my first 2-3 weeks in leggings, a nursing tank top, and a robe. It was comfortable and functional (my robe was super cute like I mentioned so that helped).
Motherhood Maternity has a pretty good lineup of nursing and postpartum clothes so I would definitely take a look. I bought some postpartum jeans and several nursing tops from them and I actually loved them.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
You’re going through a major change right now. You just pushed a baby out your hooha or had major surgery. Those are huge body changing events!
We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything and this is just not the time for it. Don’t worry about your clothes not fitting quite the same. Don’t worry about dusting the shelves. Don’t worry that you haven’t shaved your legs in weeks. Just don’t worry. Give yourself time to get back into the swing of things.
You’ll eventually find your balance but it doesn’t need to be today.