10 Postpartum Essentials for a Healthy Recovery
In order to heal quickly after the birth of your baby, it’s important to think about these 10 postpartum essentials for a healthy recovery. Bringing a new baby into the world is such a lovely experience and one that is not easily described. Even to this day when I think about my birth experience, I feel so inspired and in awe about the miraculousness of it all.
Even though I didn’t have the complete birth experience I wanted the first time around, I still look back and reflect on it in a positive way. I also learned quite a few things in that time that I want to share with you in this post so you can have the best recovery experience possible.
There are a few keys to a happy postpartum experience in addition to postpartum essentials. Those include having grace during this vulnerable time as well as taking care of yourself physically. These tips will help you manage and ease the emotional, hormonal, and physical changes your body will experience as you give birth and experience motherhood for the first (or fifth) time. If you want more information on how to care for your body after a baby, read this post – 10 Tips for Healing Your Body After a Baby
10 Postpartum Essentials for a Healthy Recovery
This list is less about the *stuff* or the *things* you need to buy, and more about your care, which is what’s most important. You can buy all the things, but if you’re not including the below list in your daily life as you recover, you will likely feel depleted. Use this time to bond with your baby, you’ll never look back and wish you would not have spent more time with them. The days may seem long sometimes, but the years are short.
In this list, there are practical ways that you can ensure you’re getting properly nourished for the healthiest recovery- physically, mentally, and emotionally.
1. Learn Practical Ways to Eat Well
This topic may be one of the most important ones. Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats are one of the best ways to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and other nutrients it needs to heal itself postpartum. Drinking bone broth and eating soups is another great way to provide nourishment through food after having your baby.
Try to stay away from processed foods, and opt for fresh foods when you can. Encourage your family to help you with freezer meals before the baby arrives, and cooking meals for you when you’re busy breastfeeding or resting. You can read more about a breastfeeding-friendly diet in this mini-course- Breastfeeding Nutrition Mini-Series: The Truth About Your Diet When Breastfeeding.
Here are 5 simple ways to improve the nutritional content of your diet:
- Snack on fruits and vegetables
- Increase your consumption of healthy fats, like avocado and salmon, while decreasing fats from junk foods.
- Eliminate sources of junk food that contain artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives like high fructose corn syrup and dyes.
- Choose healthy carbs that are low in sugar, but high in protein and fiber.
- Avoid sugary drinks and diet drinks. Drink 100% fruit juices and water instead.
2. Learn How to Cope with Sleep Deprivation
A lack of sleep will be a real thing. Babies aren’t on a routine or schedule when they’re born. It’s important to realize also that they may nurse a lot during the day and night- this is normal. In fact, you should take advantage of those late-night feedings because that is when your body is producing the most breastfeeding hormones to encourage more milk production. Babies’ sleep cycles are shorter than adults. They don’t sleep for six or eight hours initially.
If you’re willing to make some adjustments in your sleep habits, you will have a better chance of getting the sleep you need. Sleep is one of the greatest postpartum essentials that you’ll need, and you need to be prepared to take it where you can get it. Here are a few ideas:
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
- Hold your baby until he/she falls asleep, and then put your baby in a safe place (crib or bassinet) so you can get some restful sleep.
- Find a sleeping arrangement that works for the whole family. This may mean co-sleeping or bedsharing, and that’s okay too! This is the easiest way to ensure you’re responding to your baby’s feeding cues while breastfeeding. Just be sure you’re practicing safe sleep practices.
3. Learn About Breastfeeding
Not only is important to learn and understand how beneficial breastfeeding is for you and your baby, but it’s also just as important to learn where you can turn to to get help if you need it. Most breastfeeding challenges can be solved with proper support. If you end up struggling with sore nipples, a low milk supply, or another challenge, get help right away. With good information and some emotional support, you can solve the problem and enjoy many months of happy breastfeeding.
Reach out to your pediatrician (but make sure they’re breastfeeding-friendly), lactation consultant (like me!), or a La Leche League group to get breastfeeding advice. Make sure it’s good advice though, and not the misinformation. The source of your information certainly matters.
If you want to be the most prepared going into your delivery and breastfeeding experience, you can enroll in my Breastfeeding with Confidence course.
4. Practice Self-Care
This includes taking care of not only your physical needs but also your emotional needs. This is a very vulnerable time and it’s so important to make sure you’re nourishing your body well. Also recognizing when you need help and support, and when you may be suffering from postpartum depression (vs. baby blues). Reach out to your medical provider and/or lactation consultant if you’re having any difficulties with your mood or breastfeeding.
Find a few minutes each day to meditate, do gentle yoga, journal, or take a light walk. This can allow you to feel more refreshed and better able to take care of your baby when you are with him/her.
5. Put a Positive Attitude in Place
Attitude is everything! This is one of my favorite postpartum essentials to have because we are in total control of this. When we’re struggling with something, like breastfeeding, or lack of sleep, it’s really our attitude and mindset that can help transform our thoughts into something more positive. More positive thoughts = more positive reality.
If you’re feeling sad, think of 5 things you’re grateful for and write them down. A negative attitude will not serve you, your baby, or those around you. Make sure you’re communicating with your support system and partner to ensure your needs are being properly conveyed and met too. We can’t expect everyone around us to be mind readers during this time.
6. Reconnect With Your Spouse
As your new baby demands most of your new in the postpartum phase, it’s important you carve out time to reconnect with your partner during this time too. Your baby will benefit the most when you are both feeling connected to one another and to the baby. Take time to talk about things happening in your life (in addition to the baby), show affection to one another, be playful and make time to play games or go for a walk, tell your partner exactly what it is you need, and express your gratitude and appreciation for everything he’s doing.
7. Exercise When Your Body is Ready
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, facilitating weight loss, rebuilding muscles, and replenishing energy. All of these are really important to help you in the postpartum phase. So when you feel ready, and you’ve been cleared by your doctor or midwife, ease into an exercise routine with walking, swimming, kegel exercises, or gentle yoga.
8. Sleep Close to Baby
Figure out what sleeping arrangement works best for your whole family, but keep in mind sleeping close to your baby is the best way to ensure you’re responding to your baby’s cues. This is important when you’re first learning to breastfeed. When your baby is close to you, you’ll be able to recognize those common hunger cues. You may find you get better sleep when you can nurse your baby and fall back to sleep quickly. If you want to learn about breastfeeding cues and other essentials for breastfeeding your baby, enroll in my Breastfeeding with Confidence course today!
9. Beware of Baby Trainers
Everyone has people in their lives that like to offer unsolicited advice. Remember that you know your baby better than anyone else! Be wary of the baby trainers that think they know everything there is to know about raising a baby. They may things like:
“Just let him cry it out.”
“You may want to start weaning him now.”
“If you let him sleep with you once, he’ll be in your bed forever.”
It’s just a matter of time before you hear things like this. It’s not always intended to be mean or ill-spirited, in fact they are usually your friends and family or parenting blogs and books. When making a decision, do what you feel is best for you and your baby. Think about how your baby feels, what would he want?
10. Set Balance and Boundaries
Be intentional about setting time aside to take care of yourself. Being a loving and responsive parent does not mean never taking time for yourself. Be intentional about scheduling regular opportunities for “me time” and taking care of your own needs. You can learn to recognize when your parenting is out of balance by listening to your inner thoughts.
You may think things like:
“It all depends on me.”
“It’s not possible for me to take time for myself.”
All parents may experience thoughts like this at one time or another. This does not make you a “bad parent.” Use the opportunity to have confidence in your partner and other caregivers. If you don’t have someone to watch your baby, take your baby with you, and take a walk outside, call a friend just to catch up, or window shop at the mall with your baby in a carrier. A baby carrier is a must-have item, so if you don’t have one, go get one now! They are definitely considered another postpartum essential in my book! You’ll be amazed at how well your baby responds to a carrier and allows your hands to be freed up to do other things around the house.
There are many postpartum essentials that will help you in the next phase of motherhood. These are the most important and I hope you found these helpful. Share below what you are looking forward to the most as a new mother.