Five Tips for a Smoother Postpartum Experience

 Five tips for a smoother postpartum experience #postpartum

As moms-to-be, we often organize the Pinterest-perfect nursery, purchase little outfits, and hopefully prepare for an amazing birth. As we should! Pregnancy is an exciting time of anticipating your baby’s arrival, and you should have fun!

But our culture doesn’t do a good job of preparing parents for the postpartum period. It was a serious wake-up call for me with my first baby, so I’ve compiled a list of five ways to set yourself up for a smoother, more restful postpartum period.

1.   Breastfeeding – Everyone tells us “Breastfeeding is natural!” And while it is the biological norm, it’s not always as straightforward as we’d hope. I had a lot of trouble getting started with my first baby, and it took the better part of two months to get back on track. I am so grateful that I had the help of a terrific IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), and the unwavering support of my husband.

It would have been even better to take a comprehensive breastfeeding class (this is included in Birth Boot Camp’s natural childbirth course), and to have had a list of resources before I had my son, so I wouldn’t have scrambled to make those connections in the already hectic postpartum period. If you’ll be returning to work, invest in a great double electric pump, and speak with your employer during your pregnancy to sort out logistics.

2.   Food – While meal trains are wonderful blessings, it’s still good to plan on filling in the gaps. Start by preparing some casseroles or other food that will freeze well. (Pinterest has tons of great ideas for crock-pot meals that you can freeze ahead of time.) If people ask what you need and you already have the necessities for baby, gift cards to local restaurants (or even a Visa gift card) are tremendously helpful for those nights you don’t feel like cooking.

3.   Support system – Being a new mom can be isolating, as you figure out your new normal and are responsible for a tiny human 24/7. It’s helpful to check out local moms groups during your pregnancy so you can connect with other women going through the same thing, and more experienced moms who have been there before. MOPS and La Leche League are two great places to start, but a Google search of moms groups in your area should turn up a few other options as well.

4.   Help – If possible, hire someone to clean the house so you can focus on resting and recovering from the work of childbirth. If not, have a list of ways visitors can help you. Folding a load of laundry, washing dishes, and taking older siblings to the park so you can rest are all terrific ways to give new moms a break.

That said, be prepared to set boundaries with visitors as well. Everyone wants to come see your sweet new baby, but don’t be afraid to speak up about a time frame: “We’re really trying to focus on recovering and bonding right now, but if you’d like to stop by for 30 minutes, we’d love to introduce you to the baby!"

5.   Postpartum depression and/or anxiety – This isn’t pleasant to think about, but it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the “red flags” for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety (*and for your partner to do the same*). Postpartum Progress is a great online resource.

Be sure you know what is within the realm of “normal” for postpartum feelings, and what is perhaps a sign that you should speak to your OB or midwife. PPD and PPA are nothing to be ashamed of, and they are a lot easier to face when you have professional help. Knowing what to look for ahead of time will make it easier to get the help you need, if you need it.

These are just a few tips that I hope will help as you prepare to enjoy your new baby. I wish you a joyous pregnancy and birth!

I think I can…I KNOW I can - Affirmations for a Natural Birth

 Affirmations for a Natural Birth #naturalbirth #pregnancy #birthaffirmations

It’s go time. Labor has begun and you’re doing a great job resting when you can, staying hydrated, and notifying your doula and care provider of any major changes. You have prepared well for a natural childbirth and are enjoying the anticipation of meeting your little one soon!

Then come the contractions that really require your focus. You have practiced various relaxation methods throughout your pregnancy and know what your favorites are. Your birth partner and doula remind you of your birth affirmations to help you stay centered and focused on the task at hand: taking each contraction as it comes, then letting it go as soon as it’s done. One by one, the contractions bring you closer to meeting your baby.

When the going gets tough in labor, it can be really helpful to have some affirmations you’ve rehearsed with your partner and doula, to ground you and remind you of your goals. Practice repeating these to yourself daily so you’re used to hearing them. Here are several of my favorites:

  • Each surge brings my baby closer to me.
  • I can do anything for two minutes.
  • Around the world, thousands of women are birthing with me.
  • My baby and I are safe.
  • That contraction is done. Let it go.
  • I’m going to rock this birth.
  • I am about to meet my baby!
  • I relax and allow the process of birth to unfold.
  • My baby and I are working together.
  • I am strong; my body is powerful.
  • I breathe deeply to my baby.
  • I AM doing this!
  • One contraction at a time.
  • I’ve carried this baby with love and I will birth this baby with love.

Which affirmations resonate with you? You may already have go-to words that bring you comfort – perhaps scripture or a favorite quote about strength or childbirth? It’s also a good idea to note the affirmations that make you uncomfortable, as that may mean it’s an idea you don’t believe about yourself already.

Repeat them until you believe them. Have your husband or partner become familiar with them, too. This can be a great connecting activity as you prepare for childbirth.

Some women make “flash cards” for their birth team to read aloud to them, or for them to flip through and focus on during labor. During your pregnancy, you can hang them on your bathroom mirror to practice as you get ready each morning. I’ve even seen banners made at baby showers: each guest gets a banner piece to decorate and write an affirmation on, then the pieces are attached to a string or ribbon. The mom hangs the banner up at home and may even bring it with her to her birthing location as a special reminder of her affirmations, made by her friends and loved ones.

Have you used affirmations in your pregnancy and birth before? Which ones are your favorites?