How to Navigate the Postpartum Period with Flair

Parenthood

How to Navigate the Postpartum Period with Flair | Wit & Delight
 Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

I won’t lie, the postpartum period is strange. It can be messy, physically and emotionally. It can also be snuggly and cozy and lovely, but for me, making it so takes some planning and forethought.

When I had my first kid, I thought I was well-prepared. I took lots of prenatal yoga, read quite a bit about pregnancy and birth, and took a childbirth education class and a breastfeeding class. (All these classes can be taken at Blooma Yoga, a wonderful resource for people preparing for birth and people who have babies.) My partner and I were pretty ready for the act of having a baby but much less prepared for the time of recovery right after. 

When I came wobbling out of my postpartum haze, I found that many, many people follow the same trajectory I had. They prepared hard for childbirth and babyhood. They bought all the things. Read all the registry breakdowns. Knew a lot about what to expect while delivering. But, then, those first few weeks of recovering and figuring out feeding and navigating wild hormones were walked into with almost no plan. 

During that period, you’re tired—so very tired—and things are emotionally heavy. Let me suggest having a few plans in place to help transform those weird weeks into something a little more malleable; something you can mold into a nice nest.

Make a plan for cooking and cleaning.

Meals and cleaning are two major areas of life that (I feel) need to be addressed ahead of the postpartum period. If the funds are available, I like to hire a cleaning service to come a few times after the baby is born. It takes the pressure off everyone to keep up with those tasks.

I’m also trying a meal delivery service this time around. (Baby #3 will be here any day!) We’re having a few meals delivered each week from Hello Fresh. There are a million delivery services out there, many with special offers for signing up. There are even great local meal services you could try, if you have extra dollars for it. I recently stumbled across Minneapolis-based School Night Chef, which looks so delicious and sustainable.

I’m trying a meal service because the last time around, when preparing for the arrival of my second baby, I made a million freezer meals. I scoured Pinterest. I made a huge shopping list. I bought loads of groceries and made all these soups and roasts and crockpot-ready dinners. The labor of it (pun intended) was a lot; it was expensive and, sadly, we ended up not liking a majority of the meals as they were a bit bland. Some stayed in the freezer until our move and then got chucked. What a waste!

The meal delivery service approach will be easier, more cost-effective than inedible freezer meals and constant takeout, and a nice lil’ stopgap between grandma meals and friend meals and pizza. If anyone asks what they can do for you or your family when the baby shows up, suggest that they make a meal you love!

The meal delivery service approach will be easier, more cost-effective than inedible freezer meals and constant takeout, and a nice lil’ stopgap between grandma meals and friend meals and pizza. If anyone asks what they can do for you or your family when the baby shows up, suggest that they make a meal you love! If the friend or family member is a sh*t cook, suggest your favorite takeout! 

Accept allllllllll the help.

This leads me to a revolutionary concept: People like to help! It can feel awkward, but accept it! People want to do something that will make your life easier. Try keeping a running list of things you want/need so when a friend asks what they can do, you can give a real deal answer. (“Next time you go to Target could you grab me some more witch hazel and an Us Weekly?”) If you can’t think of anything, fall back on food. Saying “We’re good” can result in a million pairs of baby socks, baby swaddles, and sassy infant outfits showing up on your front step, which, it turns out, are annoying to stuff your baby into and fit for roughly ten minutes of their life.

This segues nicely into another suggestion, which might be controversial, but I’ll throw it out there for anyone willing to hear me: You don’t need that much stuff for a baby. You definitely don’t need all the sh*t on the Pinterest registries (even the minimalist ones). Accept your friends’ infant hand-me-downs. You need a car seat. A stroller is nice. Get a good baby carrier on FB Marketplace or something (I like the brands K’tan and Ergobaby with the infant insert). Make sure you have a couple of blankets, definitely diapers, and a spot for babe to sleep. In my experience, babies thrive with constant access to milk and someone to snuggle.

Adjust your baby registry to fit your needs.

Instead of registering for loads of baby things, set up a registry where funds will go toward your real postpartum needs: your cleaning service and food. (See how we’re circling back to these two important areas?) Then, you won’t have to feel bad about ordering delicious ramen four nights in a row! As your baby grows, you’ll have a clear picture of the stuff that you want and you can often get it for a steal of a deal secondhand on the Internet, at Once Upon a Child, or even from a friend who is desperate to rid their home of baby stuff.

Hone in on the cozy.

Now that the generals are covered, I like to hone in on making life extra cozy. What do you love to wear when you want to be super comfortable? What do you like to smell? And what do you like to read and watch when you want to be relaxed? 

Now that the generals are covered, I like to hone in on making life extra cozy. What do you love to wear when you want to be super comfortable? What do you like to smell? And what do you like to read and watch when you want to be relaxed? 

For my quickly approaching postpartum period, I made padsicles with a recipe I found on a very inspiring blog post. I made extra solution for peri bottles (a wonderful piece of equipment you’ll be gifted after delivering your baby), for taking baths, and for a spray bottle for the baby’s booty. I also made the tea suggested in the same blog post and have it ready and waiting in the cupboard. Making these things made me feel cozy.

Other cozy suggestions include: playing classical radio in your room, placing flowers near your bed that smell good, taking LOTS of baths (like three per day) with healing herb satchels and flower petals and all the accoutrements, wearing lots of cozy jammies (if you’re chestfeeding or breastfeeding, make sure the jams allow easy access to your torso because taking everything off to feed the baby is really annoying and chilly), doing some lighthearted reading, listening to podcasts, and having T.V. fit for sleeping through cued up and ready to go. A wise woman once suggested a week in bed after baby arrives, a week around the bed, and a final week returning to the bed often during the day. 

If it’s an option, write a letter to your partner.

Finally, I write a letter to my partner, explicitly stating all the things that I would find helpful and supportive after childbirth. It includes how often I want to be asked about my mental well-being. I even include how I want to be asked: “Don’t just ask me, How are you feeling today? Also ask follow-up questions and questions about things you notice and tell me about how you’re feeling, too.” 

I write a letter to my partner, explicitly stating all the things that I would find helpful and supportive after childbirth. . . . I write about some suggestions for helping to change the mood if I’m not doing well, like getting a bath ready for me, taking a short family walk (if I’m at that point in the recovery process), setting up a FaceTime chat with a friend, or even helping me move to a different room in the house for a change of scenery.

I write about some suggestions for helping to change the mood if I’m not doing well, like getting a bath ready for me, taking a short family walk (if I’m at that point in the recovery process), setting up a FaceTime chat with a friend, or even helping me move to a different room in the house for a change of scenery. I also ask my partner to encourage me to do these things even if I seem resistant. When I’m feeling low, it can be hard for me to shake the feeling off. Sometimes I need someone to give me a push.

If it feels supportive, you can also have a worst-case scenario plan mapped out in your letter. Maybe the baby blues are morphing into depression or racing thoughts or general doom. If this is the case, especially if it’s the case for a few days in a row, reach out to your health care providers. There is so much that can be done to treat postpartum depression. It doesn’t have to be a lonely road.

How do you get ready for baby?

These are the things that make me feel a bit more confident about diving into postpartum times. Just a few adjustments can really shift the whole operation. Do you have any suggestions for healing after baby?

BY Meggie Maas - October 18, 2020

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