We’re expecting our third baby this spring. We’ve done this before. We have everything we need to care for a baby except for a few things like diapers. We’re prepared for a baby so this time preparing for baby’s arrival is more about preparing for my postpartum recovery. It’s going to focus a little bit more on me, momma, the one that is going to go through the marathon of giving birth. You can do all the research on what to do to prepare for baby and rarely will you find things that highlight what new moms need. Here are a few things I plan to do differently when we bring baby number three home:
I will have a postpartum care kit ready. This kit will include all of the essentials like giant pads the size of a pool floaty, mesh undies, granny panties, Tucks pads, homemade padsicles for when I run out of the ice pack pads from the hospital, stool softeners, a peri bottle and all of the other glamorous recovering-from-a-vaginal-delivery bathroom necessities. All of these things are highly recommended by every Pinterest link when you look up postpartum care.
I will also have a nursing basket ready. I plan to have it filled with extra nursing pads, burp cloths, water bottles and healthy snacks that I can eat with one hand while nursing baby. I learned that it’s also handy to keep a phone charger nearby for when the baby seems to want to nurse for an hour and your phone battery is at 2%!
After compiling this list from what others recommend, and what I know I’ll need from experience, I noticed a trend. . When you look up postpartum care tips, they all focus the physical health of a new mom. There isn’t a lot that focuses on what we can do for our mental and emotional health and recovery. We need to be focusing on these things too, mommas. If we’re not at our best, then we aren’t the best moms that our children need. I had postpartum depression and anxiety after my first two were born. With my son it started when he was five months old and with my daughter, it started the minute we got home from the hospital. It surprised me and terrified me both times. Fortunately, I knew the signs and was able to get help and recover. I learned what I needed to do. However, here’s what this means for me this time around:
1. I will accept and ASK FOR HELP. I don’t just mean from our family and close friends. I mean this for my husband too. I’ve realized that it’s not all on me to care for our newborn baby. With our first two I felt like the baby was entirely my responsibility. My husband was amazing at caring for me and changing every diaper when he was home but I always had to overwhelming feeling that I was the one responsible for keeping our baby alive. I’m sure this was partly because my husband couldn’t nurse and I was afraid to give them a bottle too soon because I didn’t want them to have nipple confusion and never nurse again. (Sidenote- that didn’t happen!) I will allow myself to be okay with pumping and letting my husband take a nightshift feed (or whenever I feel like a nursing break!)
2. I will prioritize rest and sleep. Our babies have been horrible sleepers so this was difficult to do but I noticed my anxiety would skyrocket if I wasn’t getting any sleep. I was surviving on little to no sleep but I was not functioning like I should. There’s a big difference between functioning and merely surviving. Whether this means my husband takes our oldest two and the baby for a walk while I nap, letting my husband take more nighttime duties, or letting grandma watch the kiddos for a little bit, I will make rest a priority for me so I can be at my best for my family.
3. I will listen to my body. I want to heal fully and properly. This includes preparing healthy meals ahead of time as well as having nutritious snacks available to grab when I’m hungry so I don’t eat the junk I tend to crave when I’m breastfeeding. A big difference for this postpartum period is that I plan to go to physical therapy for my pelvic floor after I’ve given birth. This is a huge one because having a healthy and strong pelvic floor is so important to have especially after birthing three children.
4. I will let go of the Mom Guilt and FOMO (fear of missing out) and give myself grace. This is going to be incredibly difficult for me, but I’m going to have to do it. I feel the need to be around my kids all the time in order to be a good mom, but I know that’s simply not true. I’m going to let them go on fun adventures with family members even if this means I don’t get to go. This baby will be born around wheat harvest season so that will be hard to know that I won’t be going to the farm this season because I will be recovering from birth and bonding with our new addition. We’ll get to go next year and that’s okay.
Lastly, I know the signs of postpartum mood disorders like depression and anxiety. I’ve experienced them before so I know if I start feeling overwhelmed, incredibly weepy, or sad, I will seek treatment. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve gone to therapy for my anxiety before so I know a great therapist to help me.
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