Tricks and Treats… to Thrive Postpartum! Five Favorites from a Midwife
By Midwife Lauren
This can feel like a spooky time for some new mamas! But it doesn’t need to be. Read on for some great ways to help!
So, your baby’s on the way… and it’s a big deal! Your sweet new babe coming earthside signals a shift into an entirely new life in many ways. You’re definitely still you (and should stay that way), but things are about to change!
As time ticks and you enter the third trimester, you’re probably knee deep in sorting baby shower gifts, designing a nursery and thinking about your upcoming birth, but have you thought about preparing for after baby comes?
Setting yourself up for success now is a great way to make that big transition a bit smoother. You can’t predict how everything will go with your birth, your baby, breastfeeding etc… but keeping it predictable, where you can control things, can make a world of difference in those wild first few weeks. Here are my favorite mama-chosen, checked, and proven tips and tricks for after baby. We’ll talk breastfeeding, self care, pain control, meals and more. Take notes, and consider taking the time to prep now — you seriously won’t regret it for a minute! Read on for not-really-about-Halloween tips and tricks.
POSITIVELY CHILLING: Make yourself a “padsicle” stash
Pushing out a baby — as you very well may know — can cause some vaginal soreness, swelling and for first-time mamas especially, there are often stitches involved. Eep! I know it sounds scary to think of a tear down there but do know it’s totally normal and you and your body are going to get through it just fine!
Avoiding discomfort and keeping pain under control is key. The best way to get some ooo-ahhh relief is by icing down your underside! And not just any old ice pack will do.
Introducing the padsicle: think a pad and an ice pack mixed together, exactly what you need post baby! You don’t need to spring for these — you can totally make them yourself easily at home. To create your own padsicles follow these instructions.
- Buy long heavy overnight pads (yes, the big ones)
- Fill a 2cup measuring cup with:
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup aloe vera gel
- ½ cup witch hazel
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- Pour the water mixture across a few pads at a time, soaking them with the cooling mixture
- Wrap each individual pad in tin foil, folding the edges around the pad (the pad should be open and long as you wrap)
- Repeat for as many pads as you would like (10-20 is more than enough)
- When it’s time to apply to your bottom, run the pads wrapped in tin foil under hot water for 10-15 seconds to “defrost” and make it easier to unfold and apply to your bottom.
BOO-bies: Nursing Nourishment Station
This is one of my favorites! For mamas who plan to breastfeed this tip is all about preparing yourself for some self care and nourishment while you’re providing care and nourishment for your little one. Ask any mother who has breastfed: as soon as you sit down to nurse you realize every single thing you need is just out of arm’s reach. Avoid that situation altogether and prep for breastfeeding sessions by picking a few places around your home — perhaps one in your living room and one in your bedroom, and setting up a success station. It’s a good idea to prep this in the weeks before birth. How to? Next to each of your designated breastfeeding “spots” in your home you have chosen, place a basket full of water bottles, snacks, a powered-up phone charger, a good book or magazines, nipple cream, and any other “breast-cessories” you may want together. This way every time you feed you have the ability to take care of yourself, right at your fingertips, without getting up. Viola, your partner will thank you in advance for not yelling their name across the house every five minutes!
EAT DRINK AND BE SCARY: Meal Prep Party
In the days and weeks after your baby comes it can definitely feel like survival mode. Sleeping when you can, feeding the baby every few hours and changing lots and lots of diapers, all smushed in between congratulatory calls/visits will have you busy, mama. You’ve totally got this — but honestly, the last thing you will want or need to worry about is cooking for yourself. While you may be gifted or brought food from friends for a bit, you will definitely want your own stash. Prepping four or five casserole-style meals, curries, pastas or other easy-to-freeze items for after baby will have future you thanking 39-week pregnant you for weeks!
Pro tip: If you don’t want to eat that king ranch casserole for 5 days in a row, consider portioning out your meals into individual-sized meal containers so you can mix it up from day to day.
The right apps FOR MUMMIES
As you get into the rhythm of your new little person’s needs, it can be helpful to track everything that happens to be sure your babe is thriving. It may sound weird, but in the first few weeks, these details matter to your docs and midwives. Tracking pees and poops will tell you that feeding is going well. Tracking which side you breastfed on last or how much formula the baby took helps you remember what to do next, and gives you good data to help your pediatrician to be sure your baby is thriving. This will 100% save you from spending time in your doctor’s office going, “Ummm… what did happen last night, Honey?” Trust me — you likely won’t remember. My favorite app to recommend is called “Baby Tracker,” which you can download here on IOS products (sorry, can’t find it on Google). This smart app helps remind, remember, and track things for you when you may not know what day it is. Take the help, sister!
STOPPING FOR A SPELL: Secure Your Support
Last, but absolutely not least. Schedule yourself some self care for after the baby comes, now. Yes now! You may not know what it will look like or exactly what you will need — but discuss, voice, and make it known that you will be asking for help and time away for your own mental health, and line up those willing participants. It doesn’t have to be crazy or extravagant. Perhaps it looks like a trip to get your nails done, an exercise class, or a walk in the park. Pick something that will healthfully feed your soul and bring you home happy and refreshed.
It’s okay to take a few selfish hours to yourself, so don’t feel guilty for a moment! This very important time alone helps you fill your own cup so you can be the best mama possible to your little one.
If your partner can take care of things while you sneak away, you can do the same for them too (yes they need this too). However, if that’s not the case, make other arrangements. Self care and carving out time to still be you is key — honor the work you’ve done to get baby earthside, and soak it in, mama! You deserve it!
And lastly, because this article is our Halloween-y article, a joke for you:
Q: How do you know which vampires to stay away from in the time of COVID?
A: Watch out for the coffin.
Lauren is a midwife at Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center who is passionate about the outdoors, nature, herbalism, river sports, international women’s health work, live music and instruments, and all animals but especially her dog Mila and two cats Krishna and Elle! She and her husband Evan have loved living in Albuquerque the past 1.5 years, and being close to the mountains. Prior to NM, she lived in Colorado, California, and Texas. Lauren also loves to travel and explore, to gain new perspectives and meet new people. She believes kindness and love have the power to change the world. Spread them!