The postpartum period is that special time when a new mom bonds with her baby and recovers from the pregnancy marathon and the massive labor and delivery sprint. These ten things make my postpartum weeks a happier, healthier time.
My little baby is rolling over. Right on cue at 4 months of age it started, and while my older children and I were so excited to see it, I was quickly reminded that the squishy little bug isn’t a newborn anymore.
The postpartum and newborn stage feels like a distant memory in one way, but in another, it seems that it was just a couple of weeks ago! Those precious days go by quickly when things are going well.
But I remember feeling so overwhelmed by enormity of caring for a newborn and healing after birth that the postpartum weeks seemed like a marathon to finish. After a few babies, I finally realized that with a little experience and the right must-haves by my side, I could have a happy and healthy postpartum period!
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post for products and services I love after having a new baby. If you purchase through these links, your cost is the same, but this site is supported with a commission. Thanks!
My Postpartum Must-Haves
Though it isn’t true that afterpains get worse with each pregnancy, they aren’t something I look forward to. They were just terrible after my third but have been more manageable since. I will take ibuprofen when the intensity is more than I can bear, but first I like to turn to an afterpains tincture.
I actually made my own for this pregnancy and it was very effective. Unfortunately, my recipe was lost, so I need to find it before I can share it with you! After my fourth and fifth babies, I used AfterEase from WishGarden Herbs. Like the formula I made for this birth, it helps reduce the sharp cramping.
There are two things I absolutely need when it comes to breastfeeding: quality nursing bras and bamboo nursing pads. Quality nursing bras prevent plugged ducts and are infinitely more comfortable than cheaper options. This Bravado style is one of the most popular.
I used to go through a lot of disposable Lansinoh nursing pads. They work really well, but I later learned about bamboo nursing pads from Bamboobies (silly name, I know!). They’re the best cloth nursing pads that I’ve ever tried and are really absorbent and comfy. I use both the heart-shaped and the round kind, depending on what’s going on and where I’ll be for the day.
A baby wrap is my absolute favorite carrier. I do like the more structured carriers once the babies get heavier, but for the first nine months or so, a baby wrap is my go-to. I first made my own woven wrap with cotton gauze fabric (super easy, no sewing required!), then I used a stretchy Boba Wrap (very thick but more user-friendly), and now I usually use my Happy Wrap.
There are pros to each of the different wraps I’ve used, but right now I really like the Happy Wrap because the material is really soft, it comes in pretty colors (I have Sunshine, a lovely yellow), and the fabric is both thin and strong. It isn’t stretchy but has more give than my homemade woven wrap. The price is just right, too!
Pregnancy Tea with Blessed Thistle
My Herbal Pregnancy Tea Blend is also a great herbal brew to drink while breastfeeding. It helps rebuild the body after pregnancy and birth and keeps me hydrated. Once that baby is born, I like to add 20 grams blessed thistle to the mix.
This herb is contraindicated during pregnancy, but is considered a tonic galactagogue. That means it can boost milk supply, making it a great addition to the pregnancy blend.
Astragalus & Milk Thistle Extract
For real, these two herbs keep winning more and more of my holistic heart. Milk thistle, along with supporting liver health, is also a mild galactagogue. Astragalus keeps body systems strong and helps us adapt to stress (broken sleep, anyone?). I’m pinkie-promising a post in the near future on how to easily make your own astragalus and milk thistle extract, but until then, try this one for astragalus and this one for milk thistle.
For the first time in my life, at about 8 weeks postpartum, I developed a patch of eczema in my inner elbow. Oh my mercy gracious, does that stuff itch! I found a lot of relief from my Calendula Cuticle Cream and Skin Soother Salve, but what really kicked it was upping my probiotic supplement. In fact, when it really flared the first time, I wasn’t taking one because we ran out!
I like this Kyolic 9 formula. I usually take one a day, but when the eczema flared, I took two for about a week. The eczema resolved in about 4 weeks.
I never knew there was such a thing as a tummy splint until I joined the wonderful world of Fit2B. Basically, a belly splint helps bring your abdominal muscles back together after birth. It’s not like a corset or waist trainer, though. It’s all about supporting your muscles and helping them heal.
This article from Fit2B helps explain tummy splinting and offers some great guidance on how to choose one. For me, the FitSplint was a great choice, and I love how it takes away the jelly-belly feeling that my insides are all out of place right after birth! Moms who had C-sections or greater abdominal injury from birth might do better with one of these splints from The Tummy Team.
Fit2B, and Maybe The Tummy Team
So speaking of… yeah, I need me some Fit2B after I have a baby! The New Mamas area is just perfect for after birth. In fact, the Foundational Five routines are totally safe to start just 3 days after a vaginal birth! Plus, in the workouts and private member forum, Beth provides so much perspective and encouragement on appreciating our postpartum bellies and not hating them. I need that some days!
I’ve found that Fit2B is enough to steadily get my tummy muscles back where they need to be after a baby, but many moms need abdominal rehab first. The Tummy Team is a great place for that, especially after a C-section or serious diastasis recti.
*P.S. Use code “smith” at checkout to save 30% on your yearly membership to Fit2B!
Freezer Meals or Prepped Ingredients
I didn’t do a lot of freezer cooking before this baby, but I did make sure our freezer was well-stocked with Sourdough Sandwich Bread and bags of precooked chicken, beef, and beans. I had a few prepared meals in there, too, but I knew that as long as we had bread in the freezer and eggs in the fridge, we wouldn’t starve. Long live eggs and toast!
I’m still convinced that postpartum rest is absolutely vital and that most of us either don’t get enough or take it seriously enough. It’s so easy to fall into the thinking of “If I don’t get up and do it, no one will,” but that’s really unhealthy to the body and mind after birth.
Making rest a priority means that standards might need lowered. The house will get cluttered, laundry may not be folded the right way (if it’s folded at all), and meals may be very simple if they aren’t delivered by friends or family.
It also means that we accept help when it’s offered. People will say “Let me know if you need anything,” and we often feel awkward expressing that yes, we do need help! I’ve been there many times, and I have yet to perfect the art of explaining what I need in those situations. But I’m getting better… sometimes. When I remember how important rest is for me, it’s somewhat easier to say something like, “Well, if you have the grace to do it, we would really appreciate a meal some night.”
One Extra Note
Baby blues are common in the weeks after birth as hormone levels change so much, but sometimes the low feelings go beyond mild sadness. Momma friends, never ever feel ashamed to talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed, scared, depressed, or angry while adjusting to life with baby. Postpartum depression is real and there are various reasons why you might be struggling. Talking with your health care provider, getting a thyroid panel done, and checking on other hormone levels is really important. You and your new baby are worth it.