Postpartum is a time of big changes, physically and emotionally. Adjusting to motherhood, caring for your baby, and healing from childbirth can be overwhelming. Especially when you’re also dealing with sleep deprivation.
Preparing for postpartum (the 6 weeks after birth) while you are still pregnant can help you transition to parenthood more smoothly and avoid stress, leaving you free to enjoy your new baby.
Here are 10 tips to consider when preparing for postpartum.
1 Cultivate Community
This is an important life skill that becomes essential when you become a mother. Surrounding yourself with other mothers old and new is vital for emotional support, practical help, and advice.
Life with a new baby can be isolating and lonely but for the camaraderie and companionship of those in the same boat. Being able to share concerns is also a great way to maintain good mental health and swerve negative feelings that could lead to postpartum depression.
Whilst you are pregnant and still have some energy go visit friends who are new parents to see what life will look like. Offer to help out and gain valuable experience. You may even find the favour reciprocated later on.
- Join an NCT class
- Join a prenatal yoga class – be sure to join or set up a whats app
- help out a friend/ new mother in community
2. work on Pelvic Floor Health
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and weakened by the weight of the growing baby. This can lead to a variety of problems, including urinary incontinence and even prolapse.
Working to strengthen these muscles now will ease potential problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Buildling a routine around exercising and finding connection with the pelvic floor now will also get your postpartum recovery off to a good start.
- Find a Women’s physiotherapist for pregnancy and beyond
- Download the Squeezy app to keep consistent.
- Join a prenatal exercise class
3. Decide how you want to give Birth (and go for it)
Hear me out.
Birth can be surprising and you may have been told that you can’t prepare as anything can happen. This isn’t always the case.
Now is a good time to review your options, write a Birth Plan and do what you need to do to have the birth you want.
Recovery form vaginal birth is generally faster and easier. Nonetheless if you want a cesarean or epidural, book it in and let all your birth attendees know that that is your wish. The last thing you want is to be forced into a situation without any birth preparation. Know what you want and make your voice heard.
Your birth experience will inform your recovery. Those early weeks of new motherhood will also be easier if you have the birth you planned for.
- write a birth plan
- consult with a GP to make sure you know all your options
- Consider hiring a doula
In many traditional cultures the first forty days after birth are preserved for rest, recovery and bonding. In Chinese traditional medicine it is known as Zuo Yuezi . During this time the mother is encouraged to stay at home and focus on her ow well-being. This includes eating nourishing foods, getting plenty of rest and avoiding strenuous activity.
Early postpartum can look very different in today’s western culture. Our obsession with productivity and society’s pressure on mothers to ‘bounce back’ has left us unable to connect with deep rest. We are hardwired to want to ‘do it all’.
Pregnancy is a great time to practise doing the bare minimum.
- set aside days for rest during your pregnancy
- eliminate any expectations that do not serve you
- Practise saying ‘no’ and prioritise your own needs
5. Get used to asking for and receiving help
It takes a village to raise a child.
This is not a one person job. There is no shame in reaching out for extra help and receiving it graciously.
Many people will want to help you but will be waiting for your cue to get involved.
You can and should be delegating tasks to friends and family members postpartum.
Maternal gatekeeping or insisting that you do it all alone will only lead to burnout.
- Delegate chores for the postpartum period
- Hire help if you need ie night nurse, postpartum doula
6. Prioritise your nutritional needs
What you should, could and can’t eat during pregnancy is certainly a hot topic for most pregnant women. But being mindful of your diet is as important in the fourth trimester as ever.
Eating nutritious food is paramount in the weeks after childbirth. And yet as everyone watches baby’s ability to thrive, the mothers nourishment is often overlooked.
After Childbirth the body needs nutrients to repair damaged tissues and restore blood levels. A nutrient rich diet will speed healing and reduce the risk of complications.
Good food is also needed to make good quality breast milk production as well as for boosting energy levels and an overall sense of mental and physical wellbeing.
Start thinking now about the foods that will nourish and replete you in the postpartum recovery period.
- Consider a meal subscription service
- Batch cook nutritious freezer meals
- create a shopping list stored on your food delivery app
- Enrol willing friends and family to cook for you
- Start reading up on Postpartum nutrition
7. Connect to your body and Intuition
Now is the time to listen to your body and lean in to your heightened intuition. Learning to trust your instincts is a vital skill for motherhood.
Take the time to notice all the different sensations in your growing body. Engage in mindful movement – prenatal yoga, pilates or walking in nature. Acknowledge how your body adapts and appreciate it’s strength and resilience.
Practice meditation, breath work or self care rituals. Your body is creating a baby without any cognitive input from you. Be thankful for the work it is doing and trust it.
Pamper your body with indulgent essential oils and mindful self touch. Massage your belly or practice belly mapping , noticing sensations in the skin, muscles and uterus. Feel humbled by the miracle inside you.
Be kind to yourself. You and your body are on the same team. Work together.
- mindful movements -walking, yoga, pilates
- pamper yourself
- mindful self touch and belly mapping.
8. start to bond with your baby
Bonding with your baby before the birth is rewarding in many ways.
Establishing an early connection is known to have positive effects on fetal developement.
However bonding now will also help prepare you for parenthood. It is possible to learn your baby’s rhythms and habits in utero. Adapting to being responsible for both yourself and your baby now will make the transition less overwhelming once baby arrives.
- dance with baby
- sing and talk to baby
- talk to your partner about your hopes and dreams for your baby’s future
9. Gather Postpartum Essentials
Postpartum is the time to hunker down. Comfort is key so make sure your home is full of soft blankets, cushion and pillows. soft pyjamas, loungewear and breast feeding bras are a must. Do what you can now to make sure you and baby are returning to a warm, safe and stress free environment.
Stock up on helpful items. Breast pads, stool softeners, disposable underwear, nipple cream pain medication and maxi pads are all essentials worth looking into. Even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed consider you will probably need a breast pump to alleviate over engorged breasts or painful nipples whilst baby learns to latch.
Consider hazel pads and Postpartum Bath herbs for sitz baths to alleviate perineal pain.
It may be worth noting that in the UK you will not be permitted to bring baby home without a car seat, bassinet or other form of appropriate transportation.
Gather what you need now to avoid inconvenience and discomfort later.
10. Compile a ‘Little Black Book’ of contacts
Identify whose help you may need in the weeks after birth. Whether it’s a Night Nurse, lactation specialist or postpartum doula – ask for recommendations now, do the research and have their contact details at hand. You may decide you don’t need them later but there is no harm having a support system on standby.
One specialist you will absolutely require at some point in your postpartum journey and possibly before, is a women’s physiotherapist. Research and find this person now and consider a consultation during pregnancy.
Gather details for:
- Birth center/delivery ward
- emergency labor ward
- postpartum doula/night nurse
- Lactation consultant
- Women’s physiotherapist