In preparation for your new arrival it is likely you will take classes, read books and get advice from friends and family on how to take care of your new baby.
What you can easily forget in all the excitement is that you take care of yourself too!
To help you focus on YOU, we recently asked our nurses and midwives what postpartum recovery advice they give their patients.
We received advice for you from over 100 nurses!
Take note of the clear themes – limit visitors to take that time to bond with your new baby, accept help from others, do skin-to-skin and sleep when the baby sleeps!
Good luck in all your new parenting adventures!
- Absolutely choose a hospital for the care you will receive and not the new beautiful building. You’re much more likely to receive a positive birth experience and the education you receive from your postpartum nurses will make all the difference in the world.
- As a former postpartum nurse, I noticed how often new mothers put their needs last. It seems often families look at postpartum time as party time. I have seen c-section moms sleeping in the same room as 15-20 family members talking loudly and passing baby around for hours. My best advice is for new mothers to have 1-2 designated family helpers to be there to help care for baby while she gets much needed naps throughout those exhausting first days. Baby’s hunger cues are often missed when there are too many visitors for long stretches of time. It is difficult for new mothers to set limits.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people to leave. I have seen so many new mothers that are worn out from feeling like they cannot turn people away. Turn off your phone too. I wish I did for the first couple of days.
- Breastfeeding is an acquired skill for you and baby, be prepared to be patient and try, try again. It is a wonderful thing for you both, but needs to be learned. Do not suffer in silence, please contact your OB/midwife for lactation nurse help/referral if you are having difficulty with latching and/or very sore nipples.
- Sleep when baby sleeps.
- If you had a cesarean, take a pillow for the car ride home to support your incision for the bumps in the road.
- Use the Dermoplast (benzocaine topical) spray before having a bowel movement…it’ll make the process a whole lot more comfortable and a lot less scary.
- If someone offers to come over so you can shower, take them up on it. For c-section moms remember not only did you have a baby, but you had major surgery.
- Trust yourself and your instincts. Pick and choose the advice, tips, expert advice etc. that works for you. And know that if you’re worried about being a good mom, you already are.
- Padsicle! Pad, ice pack, tucks, then a spray of Dermoplast.
- Know your body. When you get home, use a hand held mirror to look at your perineum or you cesarean section incision. This way, if you experience problems, you will have a baseline to know if something is different, for example: increased swelling, redness, tenderness, or drainage from incision. It is helpful in knowing when to contact your physician with these issues.
- Limit your visitors. You will not get this time back. Use it to bond as a family, seek help with breastfeeding. Skin to skin is the best bonding tool! We want to help you succeed with breastfeeding. You can press your call light for every feeding if you need to. Your baby needs your love and protection. You are your baby’s primary advocate. Not all mothers’ choose to or are able to breastfeed. How you feed your baby is your decision and your nurse will support you. Ask visitors to wait until you’ve been home for at least a couple weeks. Settle in, recover. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If someone wants to visit, ask them to leave their little ones at home.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Keep drinking water to flush out the excess fluids and keep hydrated. Accept help from anyone willing to cook a meal, run errands or do housework so you can rest and spend more time enjoying your new baby. Get outside for a walk. Fresh air and activity help to restore and rejuvenate sleep deprived minds and bodies as well as improve the blues!
- While planning your new routine, ask someone to watch the baby for an hour of each day for you to spend as you please.
- Good nutrition is key. Have a healthy snack each time you feed baby if you don’t have an appetite. Try to get a good four hour blocks of sleep several times a week. Ask support people to change, burp, comfort baby and only bring baby to you for breast feeding to extend your sleep when tired. Have a good support system and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Soak up the sun when you can. Have an enjoyable activity to look forward to each week. Try to get out of the house, but if you can’t do something you enjoy at home or pamper yourself. Relax and enjoy your baby. Use what works for you and don’t try to follow everyone else’s advice.
- Accept offers of help and assistance with meals, cleaning etc. I tell father’s to give moms one uninterrupted hour to herself each day. She can bathe, sleep, read, or anything that she wants for that hour. Daddy needs time to get to know baby too!
- When you get home, set visiting hours and have each visitor bring groceries or food (they’ll be thrilled to get what you need). And stay in your pajamas. Most people will be less likely to overstay their welcome.
- Once “settled” in with the baby reach out to a Mother’s group ( stroller club, baby sitting co-op, Mommy and me Gym or Yoga class), to get out of the house and receive and provide support to other new Mom’s.
- Give yourself a break. Sit at the bottom of the shower and cry if you need to every now and then, parenting is hard work. Learning to breastfeed is hard work and so is incorporating another member into your family. Sleep deprivation and shifting hormones will, in fact, make you feel crazy at times but it will get better. You will find your new norm. It’s not all cute onesies and hair bows, it’s more like poopy onesies and newborn rashes, and that’s ok.
- You’re stronger than you think! Don’t worry about what others might think. Enjoy every moment. Parenthood is a beautiful experience. Allow yourself grace & room to grow.
Do you have advice for new moms as well? If so let us know. We’ll keep rolling out the advice.
For additional resources for mom visit our Healthy Mom&Baby website!