Today is Rowan’s 8 month birthday. She’s almost been out as long as she was in. Insane. It feels like yesterday we were in the midst of the newborn haze. Oh wait, that was yesterday because she still thinks she’s a newborn. No in all honesty since hiring a sleep consultant I’m definitely becoming less mombie and more human, but we’ve still got some work to do. For the most part she actually takes naps, but the overnights still aren’t consistent and I’m patiently waiting for the day I put her to bed at night and she doesn’t wake up until morning. When that day finally arrives you better believe we’ll be poppin champagne like we won a championship game. Thanks Lil Wayne.
Despite how tough that sweet non-sleeping baby has made the last 8 months, I’m still feeling a bit nostalgic about it all. More than once recently someone has told me “but you just had a baby”. I always feel silly agreeing. I mean yea, she’s still a baby, but 8 months is a long time. How long can I keep using that excuse? This got me thinking about the postpartum period. Obviously that begins the day you have your baby, but when does it truly end? I’m sure many would say at 6 weeks. That’s when most get the all clear to resume normal activities, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that just couldn’t be right. It takes almost 10 months to grow the human, hours or even days of blood, sweat, and tears to birth them, and then a lifetime to keep them alive and well. How in the hell are we supposed to resume “normal” in just 6 short weeks??? Our lives will never be normal again.
Whatever the case, my postpartum internal debate reminded me of the gift I recently gave to a friend at her baby shower. Instead of clothes (well I couldn’t help it, I gifted those too) or diapers or anything practical for the baby, I decided to focus on that sweet mama and gift her something useful for her recovery. She seemed excited about it so I’ve decided to share my list with other new mama’s out there feeling clueless about the postpartum period and all that comes with it. Of course, these were things that helped me on my journey so they certainly aren’t for everyone, plus I had two vaginal deliveries so I’m completely clueless about a c-section recovery. Tell me mamas, what helped you during your postpartum period? Any c-section mamas have different tips?
Postpartum Tool Kit
- Wine: This needs no explanation. Just drink it often.
- Milk screen strips: So that whole pump and dump talk is a big fat myth. The best time to indulge in a glass (or two) of mommy juice is actually while feeding your lil bit (or right after) and if you drink modestly the alcohol leaves your system in a few hours. That means by the time that kid is screaming for boob again, you don’t have any alcohol poison left in your system. The catch is that everyone absorbs alcohol differently so you need to figure out how big a glass you can have safely. Cue milk screen strips! They will tell you if your milk will make your baby more than milk drunk!
- Breast pads: While we’re on the subject of breasteses, those puppies will leak like nobody’s business. It’s unreal. So to avoid even more outfit changes (you’ll already have a handful each day just from your kids bodily fluids) and the embarrassment of giving the general public a nice view of your boob juice stained shirt, pop a couple pads in that bra! And shove a few more in that diaper bag, your purse, and back seat. You never know when you’ll need a fresh one! Also, don’t worry, they don’t leak forever, just during those first few weeks as your milk comes in and you’re establishing your supply.
- Oatmeal & Milk Tea: Speaking of supply, these two things can be your best friend if your supply needs a boost. Ben would make me a cup of tea and a bowl of oatmeal each morning for breakfast and it definitely helped! Although there is no scientific evidence regarding oatmeal and milk supply, oatmeal does seem to work for some. I’ve heard many working moms say they’ve noticed that on the days they ate oatmeal for breakfast, they pumped more milk than on the days they ate something else. And hey, if nothing else at least you’re eating a healthy breakfast! As far as the tea, it’s chock full of herbs that are known to support milk production (fennel, anise, coriander and fenugreek) and a cup of hot tea can also help you feel relaxed and the more relaxed that mama is, the more efficiently you will make milk!
- Nipple Cream: Let’s go back to those boobies again. One thing I wish people would have told me about breastfeeding is that it hurts like a mofo! And don’t let anyone tell you it shouldn’t hurt. Sure, it shouldn’t hurt forever and you should eventually get to a point where it’s comfortable for both you and baby, but when in life have you had a human sucking the life out of your boobs? No, I’m not talking about some naughty midnight shenanigans with your husband, I’m talking about a tiny human sucking and gnawing (they may not have teeth, but those gums aren’t soft either) on those sweet innocent nipples of yours for hours on end. That’s gonna hurt until your body adjusts to this new foreign activity. Cue nipple cream. I slathered this junk on like they were my lips and I was using aquaphor!
- Emergen C: Hydration is so important postpartum. It helps with recovery, with milk supply, and with the ever so dreadful first postpartum bowel movement. So why not mix a lil electrolytes and vitamins into that water you’ll be chugging all night long? Plus it’s a nice lil break from plain ole water. You can pretend you’re drinking a mimosa instead. Who am I kidding, that stuff tastes nothing like OJ mixed with champagne, but it’s definitely chock full of hydration friendly goodness!
- Kind Bars (or any protein/snack bar): Not only will breastfeeding make you feel like you are dying of thirst, but it will also make you HUNGRY! I stashed a multitude of various protein/snack bars around the house so they were always accessible during a feeding. This proved helpful in the middle of the night when you want to chew your snoring husbands arm off from hunger, but can’t because your baby is holding you hostage as they eat their fourteenth dinner. So just reach in your bedside drawer and voila! A nutritious lil snack that is sure to taste better than your husband’s arm.
- Mesh panties: The single most helpful bit of advice I was given that I didn’t know yet would in fact be the best piece of advice on the planet, was to not pack any of my own real underwear for the hospital. Humans exiting your lady parts is some messy business and it only gets messier after they actually leave your body. So don’t risk ruining those Victoria Secret beauties you wear on the regular and instead wear the mesh grannie panty goodness the hospital provides. You also need to steal as many as you can to bring home with you.
- Tucks: I often complain about the damage those tiny humans did to my private parts. And not just up front, my rear end was equally slaughtered. I mean not everyone suffers this same fate, but I’ve heard from many a mama that Tucks saved the day! They have witch hazel in them which gives you a cooling sensation and also helps with swelling and irritation. So even though it says for hemorrhoid relief, you can make a nice snowman of Tucks down your maxi pad so it reaches from top to bottom. While on this subject, you should also steal the ice pack pads from the hospital. I made my own “cootie pops” and definitely cried some ugly tears the day I used my last one. Birthing a human hurts so icing everything feels damn good!
- Essential oils: Alright, last but not least I have to share a lil oil love. Ben still thinks I’m cray, but these definitely helped during labor and postpartum! Here are some usage tips for a few common oils:
- Peppermint: This helps combat fatigue and we all know parents are effing tired. You can either inhale to boost your mood or you can rub 1 drop on your temples or the back of your neck to relieve tension. This can also help relive nausea during pregnancy or delivery!
- Lemon: This zesty aroma boosts energy levels, but it also supports a healthy immune system. I like to put a couple drops in a cup of hot tea.
- Lavender: This has a calming effect. Rub on the bottom of your feet when feeling stressed or put a couple drops in a warm bath to encourage relaxation.
- Thieves: This is an oil blend of cloves, rosemary, and other botanical. Like lemon, it also boosts immunity but can also act as a disinfectant and odor eliminator. I put a drop in my tea when feeling under the weather or you can put a drop in your diaper pail to help eliminate those not so fun baby smells.