We all want to be prepared for life with a baby. Giving birth is like jumping into the great unknown. People can tell you what to expect, but you can never fully understand until you’re there. When a baby is born, so is a mother. Even moms of three are still figuring things out, as they’ve never experienced life with a third.
We put together our team’s best advice for doing postpartum better. Whatever the 4th trimester throws at you, these are some real-life, tangible ways to care for yourself and thrive postpartum.
Thriving, Not Surviving
Wait. Is it even possible to thrive during the 4th trimester? We know what you’re thinking. It’s definitely possible. By thriving we don’t mean having a perfect postpartum experience. Thriving to us means making it a habit, even in the smallest ways, to care for ourselves and to recognize that we are equally important as our babies. It’s about not resigning ourselves to just “get through” or “survive” and give up on ourselves in the process. This is our wish for all mothers, and we think it’s an attainable goal.
We’ll be honest though, it’s a challenge to thrive postpartum, for some mothers more than others. There are many factors we couldn’t have predicted or planned for, and it’s just the luck of the draw.
- Difficult postpartum recovery
- A collicky baby
- Lack of outside help
- Lack of emotional support
- Postpartum depression, anxiety, or mood disorders
- Sleep deprivation
Despite all of these challenges, it’s always possible to try to find small ways to care for ourselves. It’s always possible to remind ourselves that we are equally important and deserving of care as our babies. Therefore, it’s always possible to thrive.
Our Best Postpartum Tips
- Rest when the baby sleeps.
Some of us aren’t fans of the age-old piece of advice, “sleep when the baby sleeps.” If you can sleep when the baby sleeps, do it! If you can’t, our modern update on this tip is to rest when the baby sleeps. We don’t focus nearly enough on the benefits of resting our bodies. Give yourself 20 minutes to do absolutely nothing at all, knowing that in itself is doing plenty for your health and well-being.
- Feed yourself.
It’s very easy to forget to eat. Sometimes it’s because we’re busy, but sometimes it’s just because we’re happily trapped under a sleeping baby and we don’t feel hungry. Set a timer, or decide on certain cues that will remind you to feed yourself. For example, whenever I get up to change the baby’s diaper, I’ll check in with myself to see if I need a snack.
- Take a postnatal vitamin.
Gone are the days when continuing your prenatal vitamin is your only choice postpartum (here’s why you’ll want to trade them in postpartum). Our postnatal vitamin is specifically designed to replenish your body with vital nutrients that may have been depleted from pregnancy and giving birth. It also helps combat baby brain, boost your mood, and meet increased energy demands. It’s the quickest form of self care ever!
- Drink lots of water.
It’s easy to become dehydrated with the increased demands of caring for a baby and breastfeeding. Staying hydrated is especially important for breastfeeding mamas as it promotes a healthy milk supply. Set a reminder or a cue. For example, “I’ll drink one glass of water every time I feed the baby.”
- Meal prep in advance.
Get those freezer meals stocked up while you’re in full-on nesting mode! You can also ask friends and family to send home-cooked meals or food delivery gift cards instead of a baby gift.
- Have healthy snacks on hand.
There is a healthy dose of multitasking when it comes to taking care of an infant. Anything you can eat with one hand is a bonus! Smoothies are a great way to get in some nutrients quickly and easily.
- Skip the baby books, read what you want!
Reading to your baby is proven to be beneficial no matter what the subject. At this stage, it is perfectly fine to read a novel or a magazine aloud. Pretty soon they’ll be demanding Goodnight Moon for the 100th time, so you might as well read something you enjoy!
- Ask for help.
This might be the most important tip we have, and yet it always seems to be the hardest. Get into the habit of delegating tasks. Got a visitor? Ask if they can help with feedings, diaper changes, or even supervising tummy time. They want to hold the baby? That’s your chance to take a shower. If you feel comfortable, you can also ask for help with household tasks, like “would you mind switching the clothes over to the dryer or washing some bottles?”
- Get your partner involved, without creating tension.
Starting a conversation off with “I’m doing more than you” or “I need more help” invites defensiveness. Instead, try being specific about what you need help with, for instance, “After I’m done feeding him, can you please change the baby’s diaper and put him to bed?”
- Don’t feel like you need to constantly entertain the baby.
If your baby is happy in the bouncer or on the floor, don’t feel like you need to go over with toys, books, your best game of peekaboo, etc. It is perfectly fine to use this time to sit nearby and do something relaxing.
- Find support from other moms.
Nobody will get you like another mom will. Search for mom groups or play spaces in your area where you can meet other moms. It’s so helpful to have someone who’s been there or who is going through the same challenges as you.
- Get outside.
Going for a walk outside, especially in the morning, is not only great for your mood, it also helps regulate your and baby’s circadian rhythms. That can translate to better, more regular sleep for both of you. It also doubles as light exercise while you’re recovering from giving birth.
- Don’t get lost in opinions. Make your own.
There’s a lot of advice out there on parenting. Guess what? There’s no right answer! You know your baby best and what works for your family. Breast versus bottle, sleep training, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, baby led weaning—whatever feels right to you is right for your baby.
- Let go of control.
Many of us want things done a certain way. If we can learn to let go, we can make our lives a little easier postpartum. Let your partner, family, and friends do things their way and practice being grateful for the break, even if you’re cringing inside. What is a poorly folded towel really in comparison to not having to do the laundry yourself?
- Feeling depressed? Get help.
Don’t suffer in silence. Postpartum mood disorders are so common, and yet we don’t talk about them enough. What you’re going through is normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Talk to your doctor. In the meantime, our postnatal vitamin can help give your mood a boost.
Share with your favorite mom-to-be!