Here is the list I wish someone had sent me before I had my daughter. Postpartum care for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. All new mommas and those who are about to be mommas, take note!
POSTPARTUM CARE TIPS
Lots and lots of witch hazel pads, ice packs, pain medicine, feminine spray – these will get you through the first weeks, or in some cases, months – of intense recovery. These are needs. The hospital will give you these things, but stock up before you go home. You’re paying for hospital care, so stuff your bags with those necessary items. Take as many pairs of the mesh underwear that you can find. You will live in them for the next month.
Oatmeal, lactation cookies, nipple cream, a few good nursing bras, cold compresses or small ice packs, heating pad, breast pads, nettle tea, mother tea– these will be your best friends for nursing. Each of these things will take care of you while you are going insane trying to get the hang of feeding your new baby. The oatmeal and cookies and tea will help with your milk supply in the early days, and the other things really don’t need much explanation but you will want them desperately.
Your favorite candles or essential oils – you’re going to want a sweet atmosphere that makes you happy and lifts your spirits. Fragrance helps so much.
Your favorite indulgent snacks – cookies, chocolate, your favorite tea – whatever you reserve for special occasions. Keep it close by, and don’t worry about the calories or your diet. Now is the time to treat yourself. You deserve it, and you’re going to want (need) treats during this time of adjustment and the craziness of new parenthood. Any small pleasure will be wonderful and sometimes – your sanity.
Bottled water or a tumbler and lots of grab-and-go healthy snacks – you will be drinking a ton of water. Keep a pack of bottled water in every room that you can grab. Or buy a cute tumbler that you can refill all throughout the days and nights that blur together. Not only will you need water for your mild supply, you will find often that you are just so thirsty. Buy some chopped fruits to add to your water if you aren’t normally a water drinker, but trust me – you may not even give it a second thought because you are just that thirsty, and your body will crave pure water. As for snacks, individually wrapped ones are going to be your best friends, but there are tons of healthy things that offer little prep work and can be grabbed easily. Granola bars, cheese bars, sliced apples, boiled eggs, turkey slices, whole grain crackers, hummus, nuts, etc. The key here is to make snacking as easy as possible. You will likely have meals taken care of for a few weeks by friends and family, but you will need to eat often between meals and to boost your calorie intake.
Boppy nursing pillow – you will use this for much more than nursing. Tummy time, propping baby up on the bed or couch, as a neck pillow, and so much more.
A pretty robe – this single item made me feel like an actual human and not like a zombie, though I still felt like a zombie on the inside. I lived in my robe and there were many days I never got dressed in regular clothes during the newborn stage. Some days I had no time or energy for makeup or any type of grooming, but this pretty robe was an easy way to make me feel like a woman on the days where everything was a mess and I wasn’t leaving the cluttered house.
Extra tip – If you enjoy having painted nails, get a pedicure or manicure before you go into labor, close to your due date, that will last for a couple of weeks. You aren’t going to be doing any nail painting when your baby is here. So if you hate the look of neglected nails and chipped polish, I highly suggest getting them done beforehand as this will be another of those things that makes you feel like a semi-normal woman.
Audio Bible or Bible app – use a Bible app or audio Bible if (when) you can’t always read your bible. It’s such an easy way to let the words get into your mind and heart and fill your home.
Podcasts – soak up uplifting, edifying podcasts. There are so many good ones for mamas. A few of my favorites are Coffee & Crumbs, and Risen Motherhood.
Small breaks – take them when you can. Grab a chance to step outside and take a quick walk, or have dad or grandma watch your baby while you run a quick errand. Use these times to take deep breaths, recharge and refocus your mind.
Self-talk – look in the mirror and tell yourself out loud that you have what it takes. “I am a strong mom. I have what it takes. I can do this. I have everything I need. God is with me. God is for me. We are going to make it.”
Don’t try to keep it together – let the tears flow, Because there will be lots of them. You’ll cry when you are overwhelmed, and you will be overwhelmed a lot. So in those moments, cry, because tears are healing, and crying is good for you. You’ll cry because you love your baby so much. Again, let the tears flow. These moments are priceless. If you get frustrated or angry, which are both very normal as hormones are raging, step into another room and use your pillow if you need to let off some steam.
Self care – Don’t forget to practice self care in the small pockets of time you have here and there. A hot shower will make you feel human again, as will a nap. Diffuse your most uplifting essential oil or light your favorite candle and turn on music that you love, or that makes you feel peaceful. Set a calming atmosphere for those times when your hormones collide with your new mom feels and you don’t know where one ends and the other begins.
Above all else, take care of your heart. Talk to God. He’s available when you’re glued to the couch feeding your baby. He’s available when you wake up in the middle of the night. He’s there when the baby is finally napping and you can’t decide whether you should eat, shower, nap, pump, throw in a load of laundry, or tackle that pile of dishes, or just hold your baby. Cry out to him in moments of distress, or when you’re overwhelmed. Talk to him when you aren’t sure what decision to make. Speak to him while you’re driving, or folding those towels, or showering. Make sure your heart is held and safe, and cared for. Pour out your heart to him. Soak up his words back to you, and write them on cards to put all over your house and pray them when you don’t know what to pray.