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Already thinking about post-partum needs

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi to all you already-mamas,


I've been reading The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin, and I'm learning so much about labor and what to expect post-partum. For those of you who already have kids, I'd love to know what you wish you'd known before you had the baby, or what you wish you'd put in place in terms of food/shopping/housecleaning, etc. My husband will be home for the first couple of weeks, but we're both going to be pretty exhausted I imagine, and I'm trying to figure out how much help I'm going to need, in addition to what my husband will be able to do. Both my husband and I need a very clean/organized space to feel sane, and we have a ton of dietary restrictions that prevent us from just buying a bunch of already prepared meals. It's very unlikely we'll have any help from our families, so I'm wondering if hiring a post-partum doula might be a good idea . . . and if you tried this, how many hours a day/how long you think it's important to have the help. I plan to cook as much as I can and freeze a bunch of things beforehand, but we eat a lot of fresh veggies, so that's not really something I can prep too far in advance.


Thought about this? Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 23

Food! For me, I wish we'd had our food thought out. I literally have no idea how it never crossed my mind to be prepared food-wise with ds. lol This time around, I'm planning on making and freezing as much as the freezer will hold. I'm also planning on a lot of crock-pot meals where I can have the components already sliced and diced in the freezer so that even dh could toss them in the crockpot in the morning. I also plan on being VERY specific in my lists for when I do need dh to go shopping. lol Maybe it's just him, but he tends to bring home awful things from the store, and its mostly because he doesn't know what brands I prefer, where to get what, and how much to get each time. So, I'll try to be really thoughtful about all of that this go around. 


Beyond food, I really just wanted privacy. From family AND friends. And, we didn't do much to help give me that, so this time, I'm not having anyone over for a very long time. Grandma will just have to understand!


I could have used a LOT of breastfeeding support as we had a lot of problems when we started out with latch and my super heavy let-down. But, this go around, I know about LLL and have done it for 2.5 years, so I'm sort of assuming I'll be able to handle what comes in that area MUCH better. 


We coslept, and I really don't remember being tired after the first few days of recovering from the birth. But, idk, maybe we just got lucky in our cosleeping experience, because that doesn't seem to be true of a lot of folks who cosleep. At 10 days pp, I was back to my usual self and took ds out for his first outing. After that, I don't think I needed much beyond privacy while at home so I could continue to work on our breastfeeding relationship and bonding. 


We moved at 7 weeks pp, and have been traveling ever since, so I KNOW I was totally 100% myself by that point although I was still sore from nursing. And, I think I was at the gym at 4 weeks pp because of all the extra energy it felt like I had. 


My plan this time is just to have food planned out, rely on dh to keep ds busy, and keep myself and the little one at home until I FEEL like going out. 

post #3 of 23

Something I learned really quick after my first was that hubby wasn't NEARLY as helpful as I thought he would be. Honestly it got easier with my first after he went back to work since I didn't have someone breathing down my neck. Don't get me wrong, I love him dearly but something his "help" isn't very helpful..


Things I wish I had done for my first:

caught up on laundry BEFORE the baby came.. I had this strange notion that Id be able to swing by a laundry mat and do the laundry so just in case it wasn't a girl... The next two times (and this time I will too) I just washed ALL the newborn clothing so if there was a gender mix up I had it ready for the baby

Make sure to have a diaper changing area already set up in the living room/area I spent all the time. With my first I had a changing table and figured Id be good changing all the diapers there, I wouldn't need any in the living room or master bedroom right.. wrong.. With my next two I had a tote in the living room of diaper supplies and the main area (I got rid of the changing table and now just store things in my dresser) in the bedroom. It means I don't have to get up for every diaper change.

Food.. Food is super important to fuel your milk production and to keep you from being exhausted all the time. Again I figured Id be up within a few days and able to cook non-stop.. Umm, it didn't happen.

Make it plain to people that while I love them/appreciate them I DON"T want people stopping by within the first two weeks. Especially if they have young children (I have 3 kids, most of my friends have 3+ kids so 6 young kids in a house and a newborn.. wouldn't be pretty!!)

post #4 of 23

We needed (and luckily had) A LOT of help postpartum last time, but we also had some crazy things going on.  Our landlord was ending our lease with very little notice and we had to move 2 weeks after my due date, and dh was in the middle of the busiest couple weeks of his business year, so things were just sort of insane even without the new baby.  I had a lot of pain postpartum, from what I now know are varicose veins I developed while I was pushing.  After the initial swelling went down the pain stopped being constant, but I still couldn't be on my feet at all without hurting.  It was pretty bad for the first few months.  I ignored the pain a lot, because I didn't know what it was, but it stressed me out feeling like everyone expected me to be up and about more than I felt up to, especially with so much work to be done.  My MIL stayed with us until just after the move, and she pretty much packed our whole house, cooked dinner every night, did most of the daily chores, made me breakfast and lunch, and ran errands to get food and packing supplies etc.  and unpacked the essentials at our new place (Yes, I stillheart.gif my MIL). 


Dh is very capable around the house and in the kitchen, but the project he was trying to finish was desperately needed by FIL, so MIL took on all the chores so dh could work. 


This time things should be much less crazy; we're moving to our own house next week (no more landlords!),  and Dh's busy season should be calmed down by the time the baby comes.  I'm really really really hoping that I'm not in so much pain postpartum this time, but the veins are getting worse with the pregnancy so I'm expecting to need to be off my feet for a while afterwards.  I'm planning on being more upfront with dh about my needs for the first month or two, as he got a little frustrated as the weeks went by and I was not much help at unpacking with the pain and trying to figure out ds and all.  I'm also planning to have some easy meals on hand so dh can cook quickly, or at least so I won't end up standing in the kitchen feeling like I've got a ten pound weight hanging between my legs!  We'll be living close enough to MIL that she can drive over during the day to help out, and we'll be close enough to my mom that she'll probably want to come and stay to help for a few days too. 


I get a little overwhelmed thinking about doing the whole newborn/postpartum period with a toddler around, but without having to move and with dh a little more available, it can't be any worse, right?  Once the extended family help is gone, I totally agree about setting up a station with everything you need (diaper supplies, lots of snack food, water, entertainment of some sort).  I'm also thinking it would be wise for me to set up some activities that ds can do without much help.  Dh works at home, but he has a sleep disorder that means that he sometimes sleeps during the day and works at night, so I'm going to have to be prepared for those days when he isn't up to help out. 

post #5 of 23

Number one warnable thing that I wish I had been warned about: recovering from (vaginal) birth injuries. Of course, does not happen to all (most?) but it is not uncommon. I could not sit comfortably for a long time, and you gotta sit straight up to bf until you get the hang of it. I ended up having additional complications both from birth injuries and from bf a tongue-tied baby, so be prepared to seek follow-up medical attention if you need it. I didn't for way too long because I just figured that was life. 


Other stuff: definitely figure out a food plan, but do whatever food thing works for you. We don't like a lot of frozen/reheated recipes. For me, I need to have easy-to-prep food instead.


I think the DH/partner thing, the visiting friends/family thing, and the sleeping thing are unwarnable, in the sense that you can't know ahead of time. My DH had a steep learning curve, but this time I am 100% certain he is going to be super helpful to me. So what you do WRT cleaning, shopping, bills, etc. will probably depend on your particular DH's adjustment to parenthood, in spite of best-laid plans. I really don't want visitors this time, whereas last time I invited them. It is super hard to be by yourself with a baby for the first time, so IME it's good to be able to get help IF and WHEN you need it...um, and at no other time! I know, nice if you can arrange that sort of thing. How and where your baby will sleep, you really can't know. (Pregnova, wow am I jealous. We are cosleepers also, and love it, but it did not do that trick for us.)

post #6 of 23

I'd say that a post-partum doula would probably be a wonderful idea for you if don't have family who can help out.  I don't have personal experience with this but I know I needed a lot of help after DS was born. 


Having both sets of grandparents around at once is more than I can handle with post-partum hormones....especially when it came to celebrating Thanksgiving at my house (though my mom cooked) 3 days post-partum. I may have actually tried to kick both sets of grandparents out of my house at various times for various reasons. We'll try to space our company out a bit more this time.  Also don't let anyone drag you all over town running errands...plan to stay at home....though getting out of the house for short walks around the block every once in a while was really nice.  


I really craved adult conversation and visits from friends in the first few weeks. Becoming a mom was a major life-style change and I wanted that connection to my previous life for my own sanity....but for some folks  company isn't so wanted...be prepared to play it by ear.  Audio books were my life-saver post partum and for the first few months of DS's life.  It was hard for me to sit down and read a book while caring for him, but I loved being able to listen to them and it gave my brain the adult stimulation I really craved especially once the company was gone and DH had gone back to work and it was just me and this tiny baby at home all day.  


If breastfeeding gets off to a poor start, see a lactation consultant sooner rather than later.  LLL is a good place to start but sometimes it's worth it to get more help than that.  Early nursing problems that don't get addressed can lead to a really difficult nursing relationship/experience longer term.


I was freezing cold all the time post-partum.  It took a long time for my body temperature to regulate itself again.  Also, I my feet that never swelled during pregnancy got hugely swollen after I got  home from the hospital...probably because I was up and about too much.


I wish DH and I hadn't been so resistant to co-sleeping.  We all would have gotten a lot more sleep in the first couple months that way.  Also, I was shocked that by the time we got home with DS I was so exhausted and slept so deeply , that I didn't necessarily hear his cries at night and DH and my mom had to wake me up even when he was in the mini-crib right next to me.  Once we finally brought him into our bed I heard him immediately and we all started to get enough sleep to function.  Be prepared and make your bed-co-sleeping friendly before the baby comes.  Also, regarding sleep I really wish I had slept when DS slept. It was hard for me to adjust  to that, but I really was exhausted and needed that extra rest...maybe then I wouldn't have slept quite so deeply at night.


Once my mom left housekeeping stuff just didn't happen much for quite a while...I just wasn't up to it at all.   DS was a very high-needs baby and nursing really never did go well for us and was pretty all-consuming when we were home and he would cry and scream anytime I wasn't holding him and giving him every single bit of my attention. I tried wearing him, but even so there were just so many things I couldn't figure out how to do without putting him down.  DH had to take over most of it for quite a while..and well, it was just never the same.  I am praying this baby will be a bit more easy-going than DS was.  If it's really important to you perhaps you can have your DH get things picked up and have a cleaning service come in once a week or so for a while.


Plan food ahead and freeze, but there were days that heating food  up from frozen just seemed like too much.....we were so grateful for meals that people brought over...that might be a good way to get some of your fresh veggies etc....ask people to bring the specific things you would like.  Meals people brought weren't the easiest things for us due to food allergies and DH's pickiness, but we ate what we could and were so grateful that people brought us food.  Things one of us wouldn't eat, the other ate for lunch.  If you don't feel up to company but folks want to bring you food, put a cooler by your front door with a sign thanking them for the food but asking for some time alone to rest with the baby.


Oh, my tailbone became incredibly sore spending all that time sitting in my glider nursing after giving birth.  A hemroid pillow (not so good if you actually have hemroids as I understand it) took the pressure off of my tailbone and made things so much more comfortable.  Also, I made up a bunch of frozen disposable pads soaked in chamomile tea (I'm going to research this again for this time. I think I read about some mixture using geranium oil instead) to use while I was healing from the birth even after I got home from the hospital.  They were really soothing and helped so much.


I don't wear makeup really at all (especially not lipstick) but for some reason that became important for a couple weeks post-partum....if I could put on some lipstick I felt less like a frazeled new mom and more like myself.  It was that little act of self-care that took a couple seconds that just mattered so much in terms of how I felt.  I'm not saying plan to wear lipstick, but do think about some quick and easy way to be good to and pamper yourself  just a little at a time when so much of your time and attention is focused on your new baby.

post #7 of 23

Oh those were good mentions undertheoaktree! About doing something so that you don't feel so frazzled! lol I was in pajama pants and a tank top for the first ten days I stayed in the house and I felt gross. No matter how many baths or showers I took, I always smelled like milk, and always felt grungy. When I finally went out with ds, it was the first day I'd dressed normally, and it made THE biggest difference! 


And I totally remember that awful sore feeling of sitting! lol even on cushions! Baths help ENORMOUSLY and you can freeze pads ahead of time to sort of dull the area if it gets too bad. 


And I agree completely about getting breastfeeding help the moment it doesn't seem to be going the way you expected! I had a nurse coming in to check on me for the first week who was super awesome, but she didn't help much with my breastfeeding issues. And, my midwives told me it was SUPPOSED to hurt for the first two weeks, so not to worry until it had been longer than that. I remember calling them at EXACTLY two weeks in tears because of the pain and telling them if I didn't get help THAT DAY, I was going to use formula. lol They finally took me seriously then, and I was sent to a special lactation office that made drastic differences in our latch, in how long we should nurse, gave me a few things to help relieve the pain in the meantime, and basically just supported me in a way no one else had been. Including my hubby who was as pro-bfing as possible. Even with all that help, the problems we'd developed in those first two weeks were hard to break, and it took until 6-8 weeks before we were nursing without pain. It's definitely something to not wait around about!


Also, I leaked like crazy once my milk came in. Like soaked right through breastpads! I learned to sleep on piles of towels, or cloth diapers and just switch them out at each feeding during the night. It helped me not feel so much like an enormous bottle!

post #8 of 23

Oh, also with nursing issues, if you are having latch problems or the baby is refusing to nurse take them to a chiropractor ASAP.  Their spine/neck can get compacted during labor and delivery  and liquid can get into their ear canal causing an ear infection, which can be solved with a gentle adjustment.  By the day after we got home from the hospital DS refused to nurse on the left side due to an ear infection.  It was horrible!  Oh how I wish I had known that a chiropractor could have solved the problem instead of giving my 4 day old newborn antibiotics.  I didn't find this out till months and months later.  That and him not figuring out a proper latch again till he was almost 2 months old really hurt our nursing relationship big time, especially since by then I was having big supply issues.


Also, if you have supply issues you can still have a nursing relationship with your child, you just have to work at it really hard and any of your own breast milk you can give your baby is better than nothing.  Nursing DS was the hardest thing I've ever done and we did have to supplement (but not too much).  I fought for it really hard, pumped constantly and nursed as much as I could, especially after the pediatrician told me I would have to supplement and that DS would probably wean himself by three months.  He self-weaned at 18 months and I considered that to be a major victory for us.  I'm guessing he would have continued longer if things hadn't been so difficult, but  he never really got the nursing for comfort or to sleep thing down.  The pediatrician was amazed and actually became one of the biggest chearleaders for us.

post #9 of 23

Great suggestions already!

I may repeat some, b/c I've got a mental list going and I really need to type it out.


First, we are getting a post-partum doula. I had a c-sec with DS and DH went back to 12 hour work days 4 days after we got home (and we were discharged early) and I NO other help. No way am I going to suffer this time with an older one running around. She will come at whatever times we want her for a few visits (included in package) Then we can pay her hourly after that as needed. We're really comfortable with her (she's my birth doula too) and DS really likes her, so we're very happy.

She's experienced in breastfeeding, but I also have a lactation consultant set up for 2 visits. She'll even bring a scale to weigh baby before/after feeds. This is important for me b/c I don't want to have to leave the house if I don't have to.


My list


- cabbage - some leaves in freezer, some in the fridge, great to stuff around the boobs (not the nipple) when the milk comes in. I remember how awful the engorgement felt!

- goal of REST. I did way too much too soon last time b/c I thought I would be a better mom if I could do everything. Learned my lesson. This time even if I'm feeling good, I'm doing the bare minimum - full recovery is more important to me.

- herbs, vitamin's all stocked prior so I don't have to go out. Things like Vit c, probiotics for me and baby, nipple creams, herbs for recovery, EFA's for me, mother's milk teas etc.

- food. Lot's of dry goods that are quick and easy to cook. Lot's of freezer cooked or ready to cook meals (muffins,  oatmeal cookies and stuff too.) I was surprised just how hungry I was sometimes, but then not on some days at all - good to have options. Also, looking into a local organic grocery delivery service, so I don't have to go to the grocery store if I don't need to. (top up toiletries and cleaning supplies too)

- New books and activities for DS to keep him busy

- batteries, camera charged with room for new pics. Baby pictures are addicting!

- preparing potential visitors ahead of time of your ideal visiting schedule. Some people love a lot of people right away, it was way too much for me last time. Struggling with breastfeeding, leaking from all ends and just feeling like a fish out of water was not how I wanted to be around guests. I'm going to be letting people know to be patient while we get settled for a wee bit (a week maybe even 2) this time to allow breastfeeding to get off to a successful start and let DS get adjusted without a revolving door of people (which tends to make him really hyper) This will be easier than trying to do while hormonal post-partum.

- have friends handy to call when you are hormonal post-partum. DH was just not ready for all the tears that came and it was nice to call on friends who really understood. 

- already mentioned - frozen pads for the lady bits if needed

- a place for diapers, extra sleepers and the baby to sleep in the main rooms (ie. bedroom and living room here since it's where we spend the most time) Getting up and walking up stairs or across the house numerous times a day isn't necessary when I can just have everything close by - it worked well last time.

- sleep!!!! I'll need it even more this time and really need to remind myself to take advantage when I can



I'm sure there's more, but that's my list so far :)

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much, everyone, for these fantastic suggestions. I so appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences! I'm already beginning to get a sense of what it might be like, and it's giving me some great ideas about how to set things up for us ahead of time. Please, if you have more ideas/thoughts, continue to share! It's so helpful to hear what worked and what didn't so we know what to be prepared for.


Have a great night!

post #11 of 23

Great thread!


I had major nursing issue bc I have breast implants. So I was WAY overwhelmed by that the first month. The first week when we didn't know anything was wrong was great. DH and I went home from the birth center 5 hours after birth and no one came to stay until my mom came 2 days later. We were fine. My mom didn't help much. She kept asking how she could but at the time we didn't need her help. The maid had just come the morning of the birth and nothing needed to be done. DH was making my meals just fine. This time we have no maid and a much bigger house and an older child - so yeah, there will be plenty for someone to do right away! 


After a week I started pumping. I'd nurse for almost an hour, pump, then feed her the pumped milk+formula. It took forever and was mentally and physically exhausting. Plus just super emotional from not having it go how I wanted and having the post partum hormones make it seem a million times worse. My mother in law came at that point and was super helped holding DD while I pumped and cooking for us and even left us with some freezer meals. I really want her to come out first this time - though I just found out she had my due date wrong and planned a vacation around that time. So who knows when she will make it here. 


Anyway, had I not had nursing issues, I think DH and I would have been pretty ok on our own. Having someone watch baby while you can both sleep is great though. This time around I am much more prepared for the nursing stuff. I'd say go to a la leche league meeting while still prego and have the phone number of who you should call for help. 


A post partum doula sounds divine if you can afford one! 


I so wished I had a donut cushion to sit on last time! I didn't even tear and was still super sore. So I am definitely ordering one of those ahead of time!!



post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

I'm so glad you all are talking about the need for a donut cushion. That never would have occurred to me! Do you have a favorite kind/brand?

post #13 of 23

My midwife requires me to order a birth kit from some homebirth supply website. They sell donut cushions for pretty cheap so I think I'll be ordering from there when I get my kit. I can lookup the website if you'd like.



post #14 of 23

That reminds me of one of those peri bottles too. Handy to have in case things are a little tender after when going to the bathroom - though I can never seem to find them.


Oh, and stocking up on old cheap undies that can get ruined after and thrown away if stained. 

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Cindy. I'll look into the website my midwife sent me. I didn't realize I could get donut cushions there, too. And thanks for the rec on a peri bottle, Springmum. Good info! 

post #16 of 23

I thought the donut pillows are actually bad because they put pressure on the area because the whole pelvic floor drops down? I sat on frozen pads (made with calendula, witch hazel and water, but not so soaked that they are like popsicles and freeze to you stitches ugh) and pillows, or sideways/leaning laying. It felt like it kept my pelvic floor in place more if that makes sense so the whole donut idea seems really bad when I think about it.


Anyways we had no help (partly because of refusal, as I know that my mother would be more of a pain than any remote sort of help) and while my DH took two weeks off I felt like he spent it all doing yard work or other things like that. I felt a bit lonely and wanted him to be there to spend time with me staring at DD but other than that it was fine. He helped bring me food and frozen pads and passed me the remote or computer lol. I think this time I will put more pads in the freezer so I don't have to get him to make them! I hated getting phone calls from people while I was sleeping and hated how some visitors would stay for FOREVER. And the ones like my mom needed me to get them their coffee, and I was feeling to fragile to just be rude if you know what I mean. (Even though getting up and down hurt like heck for a while).


I have started stocking up on sticker books, activity books (those things that play music, have dry erase etc), for 2 yr old DD, that she can do with me while I BF and maybe on her own. I am PVRing every copy of Barney I can lol. I hope she still likes it then, or has something else that will absorb her in that way while I am working on BFing. Cabbage was a lifesaver and so were warm washcloths which I was too lazy to try on my nipples until they really hurt. We had just crashed out on the couch so not sure what will happen this time with a toddler. We have a large playroom downstairs but nowhere easy for me to sit there. Will have to work on figuring that out I think.

A giant, comfy, fluffy and supportive BFing pillow was my friend- I have tried some smaller ones but my daughter would sleep in my arms on it, so I can't imagine the small ones being at all comfortable or practical. I need to get another cover that fits (the standard ones don't) because even with the prefolds and receiving blankets everywhere it was soaked in milk lol. I will start totally co sleeping right away this time, last time we had an in-bed thing and my daughter didn't sleep well with it at all but a lot better in my arms. We are looking at a king bed though so she can stay with me, but also wondering if she will just sleep so badly that we might try to get her into her own room. Maybe this baby will be a better sleeper though lol. Oh and sleeping when baby sleeps works so well, if you do it lol.

post #17 of 23

oh yes peri bottles, I had about 3 lined up beside the toilet to use while I peed. Fill with warm water and a drop or two of calendula and witch hazel. I had trouble finding witch hazel without alcohol so I should start looking soon.

post #18 of 23

Interesting question about the doughnut pillows, I'll have to look into it. My OB recommended it for me - I had a pretty significant birth injury - and I could not imagine having made it without one. If that is the case I hope there is an alternative! With bf a newborn I feel like it's inevitable to spend a lot of time sitting striaght up.


Totally hear you on the fragility/fetching coffee visitor issue, is it puppies. I am really nervous b/c my MIL who sounds a lot like your mom is insisting on coming to stay and help...yikes.

post #19 of 23

My mom got on my nerves last time. So we've been saying we'll wait a month for her to visit this time. But she is now saying she will keep her mouth shut and her advice to herself and she wants to help w/DD. I'm slightly considering it. My DD adores her. I just really feel like I'll end up needing to cater to her though, like PP have been saying. She has fibromyalgia and she just doesn't have the energy to do all that much childcare or housework, I don't think. Though she certainly is able to do laundry, wash dishes and get DD her meals.



post #20 of 23

This is such a great thread, and a fabulous question. I'll repeat some of what's said already, but here's my list:

1. It's totally worth it to freeze meals ahead of time; think about foods you can eat with one hand that also freeze well (chili, enchiladas, etc)

2. I completely underestimated my need for privacy postpartum. We invited my husband's parents out just a couple weeks after my daughter was born, and it was a complete nightmare rather than a help. We both felt like we had to entertain them and they weren't very helpful despite their good intentions. Plus I had horrible nursing troubles the first 6 weeks that I couldn't have anticipated. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite so awkward as taping a supplemental nursing system to your breast while your in-laws pretend not to be uncomfortable orngtongue.gif

3. Lots and lots of nursing supplements ready to go (Mother's Love, fenugreek, etc), plus nursing teas-- just in case! Having them handy is a nice thing.

4. Have your husband/partner ready with a role. Mine was very well intentioned but didn't know what to do when the time came. You can think about some specific roles he can take on-- cooking/ heating up food, making sure YOU stay well hydrated and well fed, etc. 

5. If you have the means to do so, consider hiring either a postpartum doula OR even just a mother's helper to do dishes, etc. We hired the latter for a week and it was heavenly. But I am a clean freak and I found that the tendency to want things clean and tidy didn't subside postpartum like I thought it would-- actually it drove me nuts even more. That was a bit unexpected.


Hope this helps!

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