after birth

Sex After Baby: A Guide to Comfortable Postpartum Sex

Written by Jillian Wood, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

When your provider gives you the go ahead for sex after baby (usually around six weeks and when postpartum bleeding has stopped), does that mean that you should feel ready? Nope. We want you to decide on your own watch. Your birth story, amount of healing, fatigue level, emotional readiness, or even just finding the time, all play a part. 

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Maybe you’ve been counting down the days until you can jump in the sack with your person again. But, that day is here and… I’m not ready!

Maybe your indefinite plan is to never have sex again… I just pushed out a human, thank you very much!

Getting back in the groove can take time and it is normal normal normal to have fears and reservations. 

What’s the hold up?

Here’s what other moms are saying:

“I’m scared that it will hurt.”

At first, I can’t promise you that it won’t be different. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your body. You may have to stop before you’ve even begun and that is OK! Give yourself permission to just try again another day. Or, slow it down and spend some time with foreplay. Remember the lubrication. Hormonal changes in your body can lead to vaginal dryness, especially when breastfeeding. Take a minute to breathe and consciously relax your body from head-to-toe feeling that last bit of tension release. It may take patience and encouragement to convince your muscles and tissue to stretch. 

“I’m not feeling sexy.”

You’ve started viewing yourself as a milk-making-mom-machine. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. Your body feels soft and your breasts are leaking. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. To boost the mood, give each other a little massage with some awesome body oil. Sneak away while baby has a full belly and a fresh diaper. Or, try sex first thing in the morning after you’ve both had a few hours of consecutive sleep. If you’re worried about breastmilk mishaps, put on a supportive bra (maybe two) and tuck in a couple breast pads. Or just throw it out there, Hey honey, if my milk lets down, I may want to take a commercial break. 

“Reaching orgasm is impossible.”

Postpartum orgasm can be difficult to achieve. Inability to orgasm can be due to low pelvic tone, hormone changes, fatigue, stress, or all of the above. Psst (I’ll just set this right here)… researchers conclude that anywhere between 40-80% of women need direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. So, there’s that. To improve your pelvic tone, basic kegel exercise is a good place to start. For the sake of simplicity, be like Nike and Just Do It. When you find a few minutes of down time (in the shower, staring at the coffee pot, waiting in the car for 30 minutes in the parent-pickup line at preschool) alternate quick and slow pumps (try to hold for 10 seconds) ideally three times a day. You can’t screw this up. Don’t forget to contract the rectum as well. It can only help. 

Some women have to work quite hard to restore pelvic tone. If you are concerned about your difficulty with kegel exercise, incontinence, or inability to orgasm, call the birth center. Your body may need more than simple home exercises and some women benefit from the help of a physical therapist. 

7 Quick Tips for Comfortable Postpartum Sex:

  1. Share your fears and what you’re excited about. Maybe your partner is even worried about hurting you. Talk more about it. When that time comes, it will be more fun and less scary.
  2. What’s your birth control/family planning story? There will be time to talk options at the 6-week postpartum checkup.
  3. Put the lubrication at the bedside. Coconut oil is a perfect semi-solid natural option. If you’re using a condom, choose a water-soluble option instead. 
  4. Communicate your needs. Is one position more comfortable than another? Do you need to stop or slow it down? Tell your partner; It will build trust and be better for everyone. 
  5. Penetration isn’t recommended until after 6 weeks. This is due to increased risk of infection and the need for healing. But, if you are feeling sexual and it feels good, find your orgasm in other ways. 
  6. Remember that it will get easier. It will get better.
  7. Nothing embarrasses your midwife. If you are having problems in the bedroom, we hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

Your Six-Week Postpartum Visit - What to Expect

Midwife Postpartum Visit

Whether you give birth at a birth center with midwives or at the hospital with your OBGYN, you will likely have a postpartum follow up appointment about six weeks after you deliver. The purpose of the visit is to check on your physical and emotional well-being as you recover and adjust to your new life post childbirth. Here’s what you can expect to happen at your six-week postpartum check-up. 

NOTE: Health Foundations also provides a postpartum visit at 2 weeks for our families

A thorough assessment of how your body is recovering from childbirth: 

Your midwife or doctor will likely check the size of your uterus to see if it has returned to its pre-pregnancy size. She or he will also want to ensure that any vaginal tearing or C-section incisions are healing well, and assess for any post-birth physical problems like hemorrhoids, incontinence or constipation. Now’s the time to mention any other aches and pains you are experiencing. Your care provider will likely also clear you for sex and exercise at this visit should everything check out okay.

A check-in on your mental health: 

Your care provider may give you a written assessment for postpartum depression or she may just evaluate how you are feeling in discussion. Postpartum mood disorders affect approximately 10-15 percent of all new moms though many feel ashamed or afraid to seek the necessary help. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression such as hopelessness, sadness, anger or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please tell your care provider right away so they can support you in finding the appropriate help. There are many options for moms experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety including counseling, support groups and even medication. Your postpartum visit is a great opportunity to share any concerns about your mental well-being with your care provider.

A discussion about birth control:

Since you’ll most likely be cleared to resume having sexual intercourse with your partner at this visit, your care provider will probably want to discuss options for birth control. While exclusive breastfeeding can provide effective protection for the first six months postpartum and sometimes beyond, you may want to consider a back-up plan such as the mini-pill or an IUD if you don’t want to risk your kids being too close in age. Your midwife or OBGYN can discuss the various options for birth control with you and help you come up with a plan that works for you.

Your annual gynecological exam:

Many practitioners will go ahead and perform your annual exam at your six-week postpartum visit. She may conduct a pelvic exam, Pap smear and breast exam in addition to the usual physical exam measures such as weight and blood pressure. It’s a good time to discuss any other health concerns you have so be sure to bring a list of questions with you to the appointment. 

A breastfeeding consultation:

Your midwife or OBGYN will check in with you to see how breastfeeding is going with your new babe. They can help you troubleshoot any difficulties, address issues with engorgement or clogged ducts and refer you to a lactation consultant if you need additional guidance or support. 

Your postpartum visit is a great time to address any questions or concerns that you are having about your recovery, physical or mental health or adjustment to caring for a newborn. Be sure to come prepared with your questions written down so that you can make the most of the time with your care provider. At Health Foundations, our care doesn’t end in the birthing room. We are here for you during your postpartum period and beyond to support you and your new family as you adjust to motherhood. For questions about natural birth or postpartum care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Top 10 Things You Need for Baby in the First Two Weeks

Between the gear, the clothing, the toys, the diapers and the MANY other things you will need to do to prepare before having a baby, there are a few essential items that we suggest you have ready for those first weeks at home. You won’t need that trendy jogging stroller yet or even a high chair or baby jumper, but there are a few must-haves that you and your baby will not be able to live without. Read on for our master list of the top 10 things you need for baby in the first two weeks.

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1) Diapers & Wipes: Whether you choose to cloth diaper or go with disposables, your new little bundle of joy will likely go through approximately 8-10 diapers per day. Most babies will comfortably fit in the newborn size but it doesn’t hurt to have some size 1’s on hand as well in case your little one is not so little. You will also need a good supply of wipes on deck for the messy ones.

2) Clothes: You’ve probably been gifted a number of cute baby outfits and accessories by friends and family but you won’t necessarily be reaching for those in the early days. The key to dressing your newborn is making sure that the clothes are comfortable and temperature appropriate. The most handy wardrobe items for the first two weeks are: 

  • lightweight cotton nightgowns and sleepers
  • cotton mittens to prevent scratching
  • short sleeve and long sleeve onesies
  • newborn cotton caps
  • socks
  • and kimono style button-up t-shirts. 

If your baby is born in the winter and you live in a cold climate like Minnesota, you’ll want to also have some knit sweaters and hats and maybe even a warm newborn bunting for transferring from the car to the house. A good rule of thumb is to dress baby in one more layer than you would need for yourself to be comfortable. 

3) Car seat: You won’t make it far when leaving the hospital or birthing center without a properly installed, rear-facing, infant car seat. Only purchase a car seat that meets all current safety standards and visit your local fire department for training on how to properly install it. Check out Parents Central, a government website designed specifically to educate parents on car safety for infants and children.

4) A place for baby to sleep: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first six months. This, in addition to breastfeeding, back-sleeping and current immunizations, is associated with a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Whether you choose to use a bassinet, crib, or cosleeper, ensure that baby’s sleeping space is free of blankets, pillows and other suffocation hazards. A firm mattress or pad with a tightly fitted sheet is all that is necessary for the inside of baby’s sleeping space. Also, try sleeping with your baby, skin-to-skin contact is proven to be very beneficial for you and baby.

5) Nursing pillow: You may be wondering why we are including this as a necessity, but as moms ourselves, we can say with certainty that a nursing pillow is a must-have. Not only do they make breastfeeding more comfortable for mom and baby, they also help baby achieve a proper latch by bringing him closer to your body and breast. Later in your little one’s life, your nursing pillow can also double as support for learning to sit and a prop for tummy time. This may be considered a luxury more than a need, but it is well worth the investment in our opinion.

6) Bottles and Formula: If you are unable or choose not to breastfeed, you will want to be sure to have plenty of bottles and a good supply of formula on hand. There are many choices of different brands and types of bottles, but be sure to choose ones that are BPA free and have a slow flow nipple for your newborn. Nipples with a large base most closely mimic mom’s breast making them an ideal choice if you choose to do both bottle and breastfeeding. Formula comes in several forms to choose from including ready-to-use, liquid concentrate and powder. There are also different types of formula such as cows-milk-based, lactose-free and soy-based. It may take some trial and error to determine which option is the best fit for your baby’s digestive system. 

7) Breast pump: Though you may not plan on pumping for bottles for several weeks or months, it is a good idea to have you breast pump on hand in case your doctor or lactation consultant would like you to supplement your baby’s intake. Often babies will lose 10 or more percent of their birth weight initially and may require supplementation to gain it back via extra breastmilk or formula. Most insurance companies nowadays will subsidize all or at least part of the cost of your breast pump. Call yours while you are pregnant to find out what is included in your coverage. 

8) Swaddle blankets: During the early days and months, babies love to feel snug, safe and secure like they were in mom’s uterus. Swaddling is a great way to calm a crying baby and send them into sweet slumber. Thin muslin blankets are best for swaddling your infant in the beginning, but sleep sacks and other wearable swaddle blankets are great also as your baby gets older and more skilled at escaping the swaddle.

9) Grooming and care supplies: Supplies that you will want to have on hand when baby first arrives include diaper cream, burp cloths, wash cloths for sponge bathing, a thermometer, nail clippers and hand sanitizer for you and your adoring guests. The list goes on but these items should get you through the first couple weeks. 

10) A soft carrier: Babies love to be held and research shows that being snuggled up to mom has health and emotional benefits for you both. You may find at some point though that you need your hands to do something and won’t always be able to hold your baby. Consider getting a soft carrier such as a sling or wrap to carry baby in while you move about your home. There are many varieties of baby carriers and some are more appropriate for newborns than others. Do your research to see what you like and consider borrowing different types from friends to see what works best for you and your baby. For more on the benefits of baby wearing, read Eight Reasons to Wear Your Baby.

Creating a baby registry while you are pregnant is a great way to help your friends and family know what you need and also hopefully help offset the cost of preparing for your little one’s arrival. While there are likely many more things that you will want to get for your baby, the items on the list above highlight the essentials that you will need during those first weeks home. To learn more about preparing for bringing baby home and any and all other birthing related topics, contact Health Foundations to speak to a midwife and schedule a tour of the Birthing Center. Happy baby prepping!

Postpartum Care: What Happens After Giving Birth?

As your due date approaches, you may be wondering what to expect for your own recovery after giving birth. There is often so much focus on the excitement of having a new baby that women give little forethought to postpartum recovery. Preparing for postpartum is the key to having a smooth transition. You can expect your body to undergo a series of physical and hormonal changes following birth. These changes come in addition to the competing feelings of sheer joy and utter exhaustion as you adjust to your new life as a parent. Below is a list of physical and emotional side effects that you may experience following the birth of your child.

Vaginal Pain, Soreness and Bleeding:

Whether you have perennial tearing, require an episiotomy, or simply have normal vaginal stretching to allow the baby through the birth canal, you will likely have some pain and soreness for several weeks. It is also normal to have postpartum bleeding and discharge, called lochia, for up to a month following childbirth. The bleeding and discharge will initially be red and heavy in the early days but should eventually become lighter in color and volume. To alleviate vaginal pain, consider sitting on a pillow, utilizing cold witch hazel soaked sanitary pads and cleansing the area after urinating with warm water in a peri bottle.

Sore & Engorged Breasts:

As your body works to adjust its milk production to your infant’s needs, many women experience engorgement and leaking milk. Your breasts may feel swollen, hard and sensitive. You may be more likely to experience painful symptoms such as clogged ducts and nipple soreness during these early days. To reduce pain and continue to encourage milk production, nurse often and pump when needed. Alternate between placing a warm wash cloth on the breasts and using ice packs to alleviate soreness between feeding sessions. Taking hot showers to encourage milk letdown can also help with engorgement and breast pain. Thankfully, most insurance companies now cover the costs of breastfeeding support and services.

Contractions:

You may experience contractions or ‘after pains’ that feel similar to menstrual cramps in the days following your delivery. This is caused by the uterus beginning to shrink and compress to prevent excess bleeding. Consider using an over-the-counter pain killer if these or any postpartum symptoms are causing you considerable discomfort.

Urination Difficulty:

Problems with urination following childbirth are not uncommon due to pain, bruising and swelling surrounding the perinneal area. While this will typically resolve on its own as the area heals, stretching of the tissue surrounding the bladder can often result in leaking of urine and unintended elimination when sneezing, laughing or straining. To minimize the effects of damaged muscles and nerves of the bladder and urethra, do your Kegel exercises often during pregnancy and after.

Weight Loss:

Finally, a good postpartum symptom! Most women will lose more than ten pounds immediately following childbirth that is the result of the loss of the weight of baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluids. You may still look six months pregnant as your stomach has stretched to accommodate your growing babe, but with a healthy diet and exercise, you should continue to lose your remaining weight over the coming months.

Skin and Hair Changes:

While pregnancy can often come with the added benefits of glowing skin and healthy thick hair, the postpartum period may be a rude awakening for your voluminous locks. The extra hair growth experienced and retained during pregnancy is typically lost over the six months following childbirth and often leaves you pulling clumps from your brush. Although skin problems such as dryness and itchiness may present themselves due to hormonal changes, you are also likely to see a lightening of both stretch marks and linea nigra during the postpartum period.

Constipation, Hemorrhoids and Bowels:

Whether you have a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section delivery, many women experience symptoms of constipation and difficulty passing bowel movements after giving birth. While pain killers and the residual effects of an epidural can make you constipated, you may also have pain, bruising or tearing surrounding the perineum from a natural birth. This may leave you wanting to avoid the added pressure of bowel movements all together. Unfortunately, another common problem experienced during pregnancy and post birth are hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids occur when pressure causes the veins surrounding the rectum to become swollen and the skin to become irritated. To reduce the pain caused by the pressure of bowel movements, consider using a stool softener or laxative in the days following your delivery. As always, be sure to eat a healthy diet that is rich in fiber and to drink lots of water. Probiotics also have many benefits during postpartum, for mom and for baby that can help relieve constipation.

Emotional Changes:

The birth of your child will likely be accompanied by some of the most powerful emotions that you and your partner have ever experienced. The excitement and joy of new life, the trepidation of being new parents and the exhaustion from sleep deprivation are all common things to feel in the days following your baby’s arrival. It is not uncommon to experience what’s known as the ‘baby blues’ or a mild period of depression in the first two weeks. While the ‘baby blues’ are usually nothing to be concerned about, if you find yourself slipping into a more concerning depression, feeling hopeless and despondent or having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, contact your health care provider immediately to seek support for postpartum depression. 

Also See: Ten Homeopathic Remedies for the Postpartum Period

Cesarean delivery:

Despite the best laid plans for a vaginal or natural delivery, many births each year necessitate a Cesarean section due to complications with the mother or baby. The recovery from a C-section can be different from a vaginal birth, and may require that you allow a couple extra weeks for rest and recuperation. Common discomforts that can occur during your recovery include pain in the abdomen and area surrounding the incision site, difficulty walking and standing, pain in the abdomen when sneezing, coughing or laughing and numbness and swelling around the incision. Take care to ensure that you are getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water and limiting lifting and physical activity until your doctor clears you at your postpartum checkup.

If at any time during your recovery period you experience concerning symptoms such as a fever above 100.4 degrees, abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding, foul smelling discharge or pain, redness and discharge around the incision site of a C-section, contact your health care provider to be seen. Although you may be swept up in the excitement and responsibility of caring for your newborn, it is also imperative that you care for yourself during this recovery period. Nap when your baby naps, ask friends and family for help with household chores and be sure to nourish yourself with a healthy diet and plenty of water. Remember that your body just went through a major physical accomplishment and will need some TLC of its own in order to be at your best while you care for your new little one.

Further Reading:

For all questions about postpartum care, pregnancy and childbirth, contact Health Foundations to schedule a consultation with a midwife or take a tour of the Birth Center.

Preparing for Postpartum

newbornFamilyWhen we are pregnant, it is easy to focus on the pregnancy and the impending birth.  While is it great to focus on the present and important to prepare for the monumental experience of birth, it is also crucial that expectant mamas (and their loved ones!) think about and plan for Life After Birth.  And we’re talking more than just preparing the nursery and getting all the “stuff” of new parenthood. Postpartum is a special time that deserves careful planning and consideration. While the postpartum period is customarily thought of as the first 6 weeks after birth; many midwives, health providers and mothers recognize that postpartum extends beyond this initial intense period of transition and healing.  In fact, midwife Raven Lang commented, “As long as the baby is still in diapers and you’re up in the night, you’re postpartum.”

While we could talk in much detail about that first year(s) of life with baby, today let’s focus on preparing for that initial month or two conventionally known as the postpartum period.

Here are five things to consider when planning for your postpartum.

 1.    Late Pregnancy Health: Nourish and Rest

A mama’s health in late pregnancy can have a profound effect on her experience of birth and the postpartum period.  A mama whose reserves are low going into birth and motherhood may find the journey much more arduous than the mama who makes self care a priority in her last weeks and months of pregnancy (of course, we encourage prioritizing self-care no matter where you are at!).

Given that our society favors the “masculine” energy of action and motion—working up until the last moments before birth, continuing to meet demanding social, professional, and other routines, and the like—it can be difficult to give yourself permission to honor the more “feminine” going-within and stillness that is needed in late pregnancy.

Late pregnancy should be a time to rest as much as possible.  Let’s repeat that, because it is important: women in late pregnancy benefit from resting as much as possible.  Light exercise and excellent nutrition are also paramount to this time.

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It won’t be long before your needs will be balanced against the intense and constant needs of another being that you will love and care for dearly.  This is a special time to really honor yourself—to treat yourself with the utmost kindness in preparing for the adventure to come.

Rest enhances recovery and reduces stress.  Lowered stress means a stronger immune system, better personal relationships, lowered risk of postpartum depression, and a more supported mother-baby bond.

So take naps, pamper yourself, eat well, take walks or enjoy light exercise (such as prenatal yoga), ask for help and invite in the calm and still energy needed to build up your reserves for the journey ahead.

 2.    Become educated about new motherhood

In our modern reality, many of us are not exposed to babies and new motherhood as much as our grandmothers and those before her were.  While so much of parenting is instinct and intuition, seeking community wisdom and knowledge can make you a more confident new parent.

Take time to learn about breastfeeding.  All our patients meet with our lactation specialist during their third trimester, but it’s also worth considering a breastfeeding class and other resources.  La Leche League is one great resource for all things breastfeeding and they have some excellent books available.  If you are interested in breast pumps, inquire with your insurance about reimbursement (more details about this can be found here).  If you plan to bottle or formula feed, educate yourself about these options.

Learn about newborns (their needs, rhythms, etc) and learn about what is common for mamas to experience physically and emotionally after birth. During your Early Home Care class at Health Foundations, offered by the wonderful childbirth educator and doula Rochelle Matos, you will learn all about what is common and normal for baby and mom during the early weeks at home.

An excellent book that delves further into the postpartum and beyond is Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness by Aviva Jill Romm.

3. Familiarize yourself with the common needs of new mothers (and share with your support circle!)

 Put simply, a new mama needs someone who will meet her needs so that she can meet the needs of her baby.  New mamas in the postpartum period also need:

  • Lots of rest
  • Time and space for reflection and processing
  • Someone who will guard her privacy
  • To feel honored, protected, and nurtured
  • Praise, encouragement, and validation
  • Noncritical support and advice
  • A good, nonjudgmental listener
  • Time out daily for a bath, nap, or quiet time
  • Nourishing food and drink
  • Time to bond with baby
  • Reprieve from the demands of daily life

4.    Make a Postpartum Plan

 Making a postpartum plan is an important pre-baby activity for an expectant woman and her partner and/or support circle (see below).  The first two weeks are all about mom and baby—establishing a bond, establishing breastfeeding, healing from childbirth, and getting to know one another.  The postpartum plan should be all about supporting mama and baby in those early weeks.

At Health Foundations, we really want our mamas to REST during the postpartum period and especially those first two precious weeks.  We recommend mamas stay in bed for the first week, except bathroom and bath breaks and NO stairs.  In the second week, we recommend mostly bed rest with a stair set once a day, max.  In the third week, you can begin slowly reintroducing additional activities, though we recommend a max of one short outing per day.  Evidence shows that the more you rest in these early weeks, the faster you heal, the quicker your bleeding will subside, and the better you will feel.

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Delegate Responsibility

Given this, it is important to make a plan for how your usual activities will happen (or not happen).  It’s a good idea to make a list of your responsibilities, delegate tasks that need to be done, and put off or plan ahead for other tasks.  Here are some examples:

  • Laundry—perhaps someone else washes the laundry and folds it, or maybe you fold it on the bed
  • Cleaning—don’t clean!  Don’t even look at what might need cleaning!  Or if something absolutely needs to be done, delegate.
  • Grocery and other shopping—try to stock up on non-perishables ahead of time (plan to have enough toilet paper, etc. on hand for a month).  You can also shop online for food and other items, which can be delivered to your door.
  • Cooking/meal preparation—if you can, try to prepare and freeze two weeks’ worth of meals to have on hand for the postpartum.  Nutrition is very important for new mamas so consider simple nourishing balanced meals.  Also, learn about take out and delivery restaurants in your area and give them a try or at least snag menus to consider for easy meals.  There are registry websites, like foodtidings.com and mealbaby.com that can help coordinate meal offerings from friends and family.
  • Bills—consider starting online bill pay, if that makes it easier (it may be easier to click a button than fill out paperwork!) or delegate this task to another house member
  • Older Children—if you have older kids, make a plan for how they will be cared for once new baby arrives—can they stay at a friend or relative’s home for a couple days?  Will dad or another family/friend be “in charge”?  Will these children attend daycare/camp/school and how will they get there?  How can you prepare them for the changes to come?  How can you make this time special for them?
  • Visitors—Just like in birth, your partner or other close support person should protect your privacy and your boundaries during the postpartum, communicating with eager loved ones about how and when you are up for company. If you are not ready for visitors, it’s okay to ask people to hold off on visits until you are ready (baby will still be there!). You might also consider a “visiting hour” during which people can stop by shortly.  Consider asking your go-to person to make it clear to others that visits are best kept on the shorter side and that visitors are welcome to bring a meal or help out while they are over—maybe they take out the trash, load the dishwasher, change over the laundry, water plants, etc.
  • Make it special—the first few weeks are dubbed the “babymoon” (like a “honeymoon”) for good reason.  This is a precious time of strengthening the love bonds between family members.  It’s also a time to treat yourself with the utmost care.  How will you make it special?  Consider gifting yourself with little treats during this time, you deserve it after the hard work of carrying and birthing your baby!

Ahead of time, maybe you:

  • Get a manicure, get your haircut, get a massage(s), or go to a spa
  • Buy new makeup, a new (nursing-friendly) nightgown, or the like
  • Save a book from your favorite author or stock up on magazines
  • Load up your Netflix or similar with movies and TV shows you’ve wanted to see.  (funny, light shows are especially good for this time)
  • Acquire some new music by a favorite or recommended band or artist
  • Put up a beautiful piece of art or a picture that you can look at from your bed (consider natural images, which have been shown to help reduce stress and boost healing)

During your babymoon, you might:

  • Consider placenta encapsulation
  • Take sitz baths at least once a day
  • Change into a new outfit, open the windows, and welcome each new day
  • Look through albums of favorite trips or special memories
  • Journal about your experiences (they are often profound even despite the sleep-deprivation!)
  • Rest, rest, rest!
  • Eat your favorite meals
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Be unreasonably kind to yourself

5.    Create a support circle

Some experts recommend that mamas delegate a close friend or family member as postpartum support coordinator—this person can arrange “assignments” for those in your support circle such as bringing a meal on a certain night, watching older children, coming over to doing a little house upkeep, etc.  This takes any potential pressure and awkwardness off mom to ask for support from others, if this is the case.  Of course, you can also arrange your support yourself!  Consider these possible members of your support circle:

  • Husband or partner—while every partner’s ability to take time off is different, it’s helpful to take as much time as you can—whether that’s a few days or several weeks
  • Older children—older children may be given special helper tasks
  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Other mothers (perhaps women you meet through childbirth ed classes)
  • Postpartum Doulas—these experts are trained to meet the physical, emotional and practical needs of new families
  • Hired Help—some families consider hiring help for cooking, cleaning, and other tasks

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Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and enlist help in meeting your needs in the postpartum.  In the words of midwife Aviva Jill Romm:  “In order to fully nourish your family, you must have reserves to draw on—you need to be a full well.  Every bit of help you receive adds to your reserves. Planning ahead for postpartum care ensures that you will have the help and support necessary to keep your well full.”

What do you think?  If you have kids, what did you do or wish you had done to prepare for the postpartum period?  If you are pregnant, what are you doing to keep your well full going into new mamahood?