Whether you have a cesarean or vaginal birth, recovery is tough. If the baby isn’t keeping you up constantly in the hospital, your nurses will help ensure you don’t catch up on any sleep before going home. I wish I had prepared for coming home more after my first baby. The learning curve was huge, and I was a hormonal zombie for the first couple weeks. Most mothers focus solely on the baby, which is important, but taking care of yourself is equally important and often overlooked. Hopefully these tips help prepare you for sleep, nutrition, body recovery, clothes, and housework after coming home from the hospital.
Possibly the hardest adjustment to becoming a mom is sleep deprivation. Yes, newborns sleep 16-20 hours per day, but new mothers definitely don’t get that much. Everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but realistically try to get a minimum of 8 hours per 24 hour period. A good way to do this is to track exactly when you sleep for the first 2 weeks. Even if you only take a short nap here and there, write it down and make sure you’re getting the sleep you desperately need. Its amazing what catching up on sleep can do for your overall recovery.
Looking at your jelly belly after you’ve given birth is not easy. You want to do whatever you can to not look pregnant any more and get back in your normal clothes. Give it time. Please, don’t starve yourself! I see too many moms immediately start dieting and either struggle to have enough energy to take care of themselves or breastfeed their babies. No one expects you to be bikini ready after giving birth!
Eating well balanced meals and drinking plenty of water is key in your recovery. To make this easier, try freezing a bunch of balanced meals before you have the baby. I froze 20 different meals, some crockpot and some casserole, that I could make for when my husband went back to work. You may also get friends or family asking what they can do to help you; making you a meal is an amazing gift!
Having a baby sure does a number on your body! You can expect a fair amount of bleeding as well as other “fun” issues like hemorrhoids or stitches. To plan ahead, make sure you are stocked up on LARGE pads, no tampons. This is something your husband probably won’t be too exctied about running to the store to get if you run out, so get a couple big packs. You will bleed anywhere from 2-8 weeks after giving birth.
The hospital will give you a peri bottle to use instead of wiping; ask for more! Keep one in each bathroom. The hospital will also give you some hideous mesh panties; again, ask for more! These are great to hold the giant pads and can be thrown away if they have any spillover. Don’t freak out if you pass a clot unless it’s larger than a golf ball, though it’s hard to stay calm when this happens. It is pretty normal. It’s also normal for pooping to be extremely painful. Be proactive and take a stool softener to prepare for your first few trips to the bathroom.
Waking up soaked with sweat is another weird thing that happened to me after having a baby. A lot of weird things happen to our bodies as our hormones regulate. Don’t feel embarrassed about calling up your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
If you are breastfeeding, you need to get some Soothies. The first few weeks of breastfeeding can give you pain that rivals labor pains. Plan ahead and have some Soothies on hand. They aren’t easy to find in stores so order yourself a couple sets and keep them in the refrigerator.
You may also want to research lactation consultants. I know I would have quit nursing in the first couple weeks had it not been for my amazing lactation consultants. Yes, nursing is hard at first, but be comforted in the fact that it gets easier with each baby you have!
Comfort is key in recovery. Buy yourself a nice thin robe, a few pairs of comfy sweatpants, and a bunch of nursing tank tops. I promise you won’t be in maternity clothes forever, but you probably will be for longer than you want. Some people are freaks of nature and walk around in their normal jeans before I was even ready to get out of sweatpants. Those people are annoying and are not the norm!
Cut yourself some slack. Your number one concern should be the health of you and your new baby. Talk with your husband about what recovery will be like for you and tell him in advance that you will need his help with chores around the house. He may even need a lesson or two on how you do things.
There is no such thing as a “Super Mom” so give yourself loads of grace. There is no specific timeline on when you should be fully recovered. Each of my 3 recoveries were comepletely different from each other. The one common denominator with each recovery was how help from others made the recovery so much easier. Asking for help does not make you a bad mom, it makes you a SMART one!