Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Post-partum tips

If you are squeamish (or a man) I highly suggest you stop reading right now and check back in a few days for less personal content (and maybe a few cute pictures of Charlotte!).

In the shower this morning, I was reflecting on the early days after Charlotte was born and mentally listing a few things I learned. Some were tips from other first-time moms, some were things I read online, and some were trial-by-error ideas that came from my own experience. 

Feel free to chime in and add any of your own great post-partum tips, but here are a few of mine, in no particular order: 

1. Take a shower every day (or more than once per day, if you choose). Having a baby is messy. The days/weeks afterward can be messy, too. I felt a million times better after my daily shower, even though I was exhausted and emotionally shaky. Hand the baby off to your husband, mom, or dad and jump in the shower even for 3 minutes. Or, if nobody is around, get in the shower the second your baby falls soundly asleep in his/her preferred safe location. I am so serious about this one. So serious that I made it my number one tip. That's serious. 

2. Encourage your husband in his new role. This is HARD but so, so life-changing. I did not do this well at first, so please hear me out. Postpartum hormones are crippling. Sleep deprivation is brutal. Screaming babies are soul-crushing. But your husband is on your side and he needs your support, too. Give him a chance to do things for your baby, even if you think your way is better. Let him change some diapers and have some snuggles. Try to carve out quiet time for just the two of you to snuggle and talk together when the baby is sleeping. Try to apologize quickly if you yell at him for something inconsequential. Try to explain your flow of tears, but also help him to know that sometimes tears (especially post-partum) have no logical explanation and that's normal. Try to ask how he is doing and try to listen well, even if your beautiful, perfect, amazing baby is there distracting you both. 

3. Ask for help, but set some limits. I really wanted my parents to come as soon as possible after Charlotte was born but I couldn't handle the idea of a crying newborn interrupting their sleep. I asked them to come and they (very graciously) agreed to stay somewhere else at night for three nights. Their help and presence during the day was invaluable, but I think it really helped us unite as a little family to be without them during the long, hard nights. Joel, Charlotte, and I figured things out on our own and I'm so grateful for that time. 

4. If you really want to breastfeed, don't give up. Our first three days were soooo rocky. They were probably the hardest days of my life. But now that we are past them, breastfeeding is easy and awesome. I got great support from some local lactation consultants, as well as my midwife, which made a big difference. I also bought a nipple shield, which saved my butt. I also knew Joel was on my team and he did whatever he could to be encouraging and helpful- total game changer. (Also- if you don't breastfeed, that's fine, and you need to give yourself some grace about it.)
5. Get some post-partum necessities. You can check out my pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding board on Pinterest, or just Google what to have at home after delivering a baby, but there are some drugstore-type things that will make recovery a lot smoother and more comfortable. Email me if you want specifics but there are lots of good lists online so I will spare you the details here.

6. Rest. Sleep. Stay in bed for 2 days, only getting up to shower, use the bathroom, and change your baby. I know, I know, I know... Everyone says to rest but how can you rest when there is so much to be done? I am telling you that nothing needs to be done except caring for yourself, your husband, and your baby (and other children, if you have them!). The dishes and laundry and cleaning can wait, or they can be done by someone else. As soon as you come home, take a nap and lay around and gaze at your baby and revel in the newness. Just rest. Trust me- you will not regret it.

BONUS: a few great reads on this subject...
Own the Night
It's Their Day, Too
Infancy, Again.
Ten True Things
Things for Dads to Know about Birth
Things for Dads to Know about the First Few Weeks

What tips helped you make it through those early, hazy, newborn days? 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I do not have kids right now, but I want to learn as much of the "real truth" before having one so I really appreciate these tips. Thank you!