10 WONDER TIPS FOR POSTPARTUM CARE
- Sep 06, 2019
- & Amelia
You’ve done it! After a nine month journey you have brought a beautiful new baby into the world! The postpartum period, which can range from the first twelve weeks to the first year of your baby’s life, can be joyous, challenging and life-changing. I know it was for me anyway. cal as well as an emotional and mental one.
My first four weeks postpartum were pretty blissful. I was lucky that my partner and I both worked for a big UK charity that had very generous family leave policies so he was able to take four weeks paternity leave - unheard of here in OZ! The week Alex was due back at work my mum had planned to visit from Australia. However, two days before she flew out she learned she had breast cancer. She needed to stay home to start treatment immediately. I was absolutely devastated for her, for me and for Sam.
This was the beginning of a more difficult postpartum time for me. The weather was getting colder, darker and wetter and I was very alone. Mothers’ groups are not set up for you in the UK. I had joined a homebirth mums’ group but hadn’t really connected with anyone so when I heard the NHS hospital was hosting a get together for everyone who had completed the hospital birth classes- in the last few months I became hopeful of meeting other local mums. These classes were completely different to the hypnobirthing course I completed as they had a different focus but my hypnobirthing course- was over 1 hour away so there were no chance of meet ups with them.
On arrival we were asked to share our name and birth stories. I instantly cringed inside. Hearing horror birth stories was one of the main reasons I had chosen to do the hypnobirthing course in the first place. I wanted to let go of the fear surrounding birth so I could more effectively birth Sammy. The horror stories came thick and fast - you all know them - each story further reinforcing the opinion that birth is dangerous and scary. I felt for these women who had experienced difficult births but also for being encouraged to share their trauma in such an unsupported way. I also started to feel nervous about sharing my experience.
I’m still unsure to this day why I thought it would be the best thing to be so honest! In a nutshell I said, “I had him at home. It was amazing. I loved it. It was the best experience of my life.” As soon as I uttered the words I realised my mistake - by sharing my positive story I had instantly isolated myself. Here I was alone in a foreign country, off work for the next 12 months, in a room full of potential friends and I had just made them all dislike me! Many, I assumed thought I was showing off or downplaying their bad experiences, when in reality my story was just very different.
I cried the whole way home. How could I have been so silly and why did having a positive birth experience - what it should actually be like for everyone - leave me in the VERY extreme MINORITY?! These realisations only added fuel to my new found mission - to help other women feel empowered and have a positive birth experience too. I may have not found a life long friend at that meeting but in truth I think it was an important stepping stone in fulfilling my new goal.
The good news is after I moved back to Australia I did eventually find my tribe. Some are old friends, some are new, and some are women I have been lucky enough to help achieve a wonderful birth.
In the true spirit of leaning on your mummy tribe I decided to ask them what their top tips for surviving the postpartum period were so I could add them to my own. Here are the ideas and advice that made the top 10.
1. SELF CARE
Setting aside time to look after yourself may seem tricky when you are caring for a new baby but practising self care is far from selfish. When you are physically and emotionally well those who you are caring for benefit too.
Self care could include nourishing your body with healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, continuing your prenatal vitamins, gentle exercise and resting when you can - even if you have to schedule it! One Wonder Mum also suggests setting up a food and drink station where you feed - after all breastfeeding can be hungry, thirsty work!
2. A CLEAN HOUSE CAN WAIT
You may have many friends and family eager to visit you and your baby. This is not the time to worry about the cleanliness of your home. Remember they are excited to meet your precious new addition, not run a house inspection.
3. CONNECT WITH OTHER MUMS EARLY
There is nothing like the support of women who are going through exactly what you are. As one of my friends so eloquently put it - ‘I felt like I spent every waking minute wondering whether things were ‘normal’ before I connected with other mums. I still worry sometimes but at least I know everyone else does too! There’s definitely strength in numbers!’
4. ACCEPT SECOND HAND CLOTHES
Babies are messy beings. The poop, wee, burp up and spill milk on their clothes constantly so extra sets of clothes can be a lifesaver. They also grow quickly so accepting recycled clothes is a great way to save money and help the environment too.
One client also suggested using one piece baby suits with zips for ease. If you have ever tried to change a baby’s nappy in the middle of the night, after a poo explosion - when they are wearing a suit with a trillion buttons - you will understand!
5. REMEMBER YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Pregnancy and childbirth puts a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles so it’s important to start or resume your kegel exercises after birth. Strengthening your pelvic floor will mean less leaking when laughing and coughing and an improvement in sexual health. Get squeezing ladies!
6. YOU MAY NEED PRUNES
Achieving a bowel movement after birth may seem a little daunting, especially if you have stitches and swelling or you have taken pain medications causing further constipation. Drink plenty of water, eat fibre rich foods - prune juice works a treat - and if all else fails say yes to stool softeners.
7. ACCEPT HELP
The first 6-12 weeks post birth can be a whirlwind of emotions, unbelievable joy and downright exhaustion! During this time it’s a good idea to be honest with your partner and loved ones about what you need. Helping with childcare - especially if you have other children, household chores and picking up supplies or food can all make a huge difference while you are still healing.
8. STOCK YOUR FREEZER
In the days and weeks following birth you’ll likely be low on energy and time so having a freezer stocked with nutritious ready-to-go food can be helpful. One client said that when friends and family asked her about gift ideas post birth she asked for a home cooked meal instead. Sounds like a great idea to me!
9. SEEK HELP IF YOU FEEL BLUE
The baby blues after birth are very common. Your hormones change rapidly and you are adjusting to life with your new bub. Often feelings of sadness and anxiety disappear after a few weeks. If they don’t be sure to reach out to loved ones for extra help and your GP, who can put you in touch with support services and prescribe medications if necessary. Gidget foundation Beyond BLUE and Panda are all great places to find support.
10. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Be proud super mama - you just created another human! This is the perfect time to be kind to yourself and take one day at a time…. and remember self care really is an act of love.