9 Tips for Taking Care Of Yourself After Giving Birth
I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 months since Jack was born! We’ve had such a busy past few months between his birth and moving into a new house, it’s crazy how fast it’s gone by!
With Jack being my second baby, I wanted to share some of my tips for taking care of yourself after giving birth. I know from experience that those first few weeks after delivery can be SO HARD. But, if I’ve learned anything, this is the time to take it slow, put stuff that isn’t necessary on hold and focus on yourself and your baby.
Did you know that the real postpartum period is 18 months?! When my doctor told me that I was in shock, but when I hit 18 months postpartum with Owen, I remember feeling like “wow, I feel normal again!” It had nothing to do with weight gain or loss, but I simply felt like my old self again and I couldn’t believe how long it took.
I found it harder to slow down with Owen. I was so anxious to get “back to normal,” but with Jack, I was so much better about letting go of the things I couldn’t control and just soaking in those moments knowing how short the newborn phase lasts, and how quickly they change and grow. I also felt less guilty asking for help and prioritizing my own health this time because I now know just how important it is to take care of yourself!
Taking Care Of Yourself After Giving Birth
It’s easy to grab whatever is fast and easy when you’re starving and don’t have a free second, but it is so important to eat a healthy diet when you’re in recovery. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need that extra energy even more! Your body burns more calories making milk than it did growing a baby.
Make sure to get a wide variety of foods from different food groups and focus on healthy stuff like fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Those healthy meals will give you energy and make recovery faster.
Water keeps every organ in your body functioning well, so make sure you’re getting plenty, especially breastfeeding mamas! It’ll make you feel better, make it easier to go to the bathroom (if you know, you know—going #2 can be uncomfortable in those early days), and give you a boost of energy.
If you struggle to drink enough water, get one of those water bottles that helps you keep track of your water intake, or download an app to keep track.
Sleep When You Can
Those early days are rough! I remember one night with Jack thinking, did I sleep at all? He was up cluster feeding for hours! People always say “sleep when the baby sleeps!” So you know what I did the next day? I napped when he did—twice! And, it was glorious. It doesn’t totally make up for lost nighttime sleep, but it helps!
And, don’t feel guilty!!!! I can’t say this enough. With Owen, when he napped, I felt like I had to do everything—dishes, laundry, vacuuming, catch up on emails. Gals, just don’t do it. That stuff can wait, your health and well-being is 1,000x more important!
Listen to your Doctor’s Orders
Depending on whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, your doctor will recommend different things. Listen! They know what they’re talking about. Don’t push it and follow orders, you’ll be able to get back to whatever it is you want to in due time.
Take it Easy
Okay, I fully admit that this is HARD for me. I’m naturally busy, and with moving into a new house, I want to do everything! And somedays I do too much and I can tell.
It’s hard for me to slow down and take it easy, but last week Jack would not nap, so we just took it easy, laid on the couch because he would only sleep on my chest and I did nothing. You know what? It was really nice. When else will you ever get a pass to just do nothing? Take advantage and take it easy, friends!
Focus on Recovery
Every woman and every birth will have a different postpartum recovery. But, I’ll say from experience, focus on healing your body. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean weight loss, it means focusing on healing your body—both physically and mentally. Seriously, don’t worry about the weight gained during pregnancy, it will come with time!
Hormones do a number on us, and birth can be rough. Take the necessary steps—see a therapist, go back to the doctor, do the physical therapy. You’ll thank yourself in the years to come that you took the time to heal.
Fed is Best
If you’re trying to breastfeed and it’s not going well, don’t fret. At the end of the day, the goal is to feed your baby. Whether that’s breastmilk or formula, it’s all good!
For my breastfeeding mamas, I know how stressful and exhausting it can be those first few weeks and months. I’m here to encourage you to stick with it if that’s what you want. I’ll happily reassure you that they don’t eat 12+ times a day for that long.
Soon enough, you’ll fall into a routine that works for you both and you’ll actually cherish that time between mother and baby. I mostly pumped with Owen, but I’ve breastfed Jack and it’s really become such a sweet, special calm time for us that I enjoy.
Ask for Help
I’m not the best at asking for help, and I was pretty bad about it with Owen. I felt like I should be able to do it all, but you’re not meant to. This time around, I let Rob’s mom cook us meals and his dad play with Owen, and just thanked them both more times than I can count.
If you have a family member that’s offered to help, say yes. People want to be of help to you during this special time, so let them! Take the dinners, the errand running, etc. It’s likely the only time you’ll get it!
Also, postpartum depression or the baby blues are nothing to be ashamed of. Your hormones are literally going nuts and something it happens. I personally dealt with some of it after I stopped breastfeeding. Just know that it’s not just right after birth, but can happen later too.
Do Something for You
Lastly, don’t forget about yourself. Whether you’re 1 or 8 weeks postpartum, you deserve a little you time. You just did one of the most amazing things EVER. Congrats, but I get it, you’re tired, you’re run down, you don’t feel like yourself, so take a moment and do something that YOU want to do. Maybe that’s simply taking a hot shower—uninterrupted.
Maybe it’s getting a coffee with a girl friend or going for a walk. Whatever it is that you need, ask for help, and then do something that makes you happy.
I can’t stress this enough! Mostly because I ate way too many pretzel chips as meals with Owen, but have someone cook you healthy meals or pick up healthy stuff! You’ll feel more energized and heal faster.
Pads & Witch Hazel Pads
You’ll want to stock up on pads, and at least a pack of witch hazel pads that can help with any burning and itching—I didn’t have these with Owen, but they were great the second time around!
The Haaakaa is great for catching extra milk from your natural letdown. It’s also helped with milk production for me. So cheap and a MUST-HAVE! I use it in the middle of the night too because Jack typically only feeds on one side and this relieves the pressure.
If your baby is struggling to latch or you’re struggling to produce, a breast pump is your best friend. I love my Spectra S2!
This what my doctor suggested and it helped with swelling and pain in those first few weeks.
I hope that this was helpful for any of you new mamas!