Congratulations! You have made it through the first night as a mom! I remember having this complete high for those first 24 hours. I was so excited that I didn’t even feel tired. I looked forward to each feeding, each diaper change, and cuddling with my new baby. Fast forward to leaving the hospital, or for home births, the next day. You are officially on your own. You may have your spouse or family member there, but no doctor, midwife, or nurse to help you. My number one concern, baby. But, I needed to remember that if I didn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t take care of my newborn. My husband had to constantly remind me of this with each of our children. It was so easy to forget about my own needs. But, there are essentials that cannot be overlooked.
The first essential is food and water. Remember those 10-12 glasses or more of water that you needed to drink while pregnant? Well, I hope that wasn’t hard because you need at least that to stay hydrated, especially if breastfeeding. The easiest way to remember is to drink 1-2 glasses every time you feed the baby. I am very lucky to have a large family, along with my husband’s family, and they are all local. People brought us food for the first few days. My husband cooked for the next few days. Here’s a tip with that. My husband did not cook, with the exception of grilling, until I was pregnant. I worked 12 hour shifts at the time and I was very tired when I got home. So, every time I cooked, I made him watch and help. By the time I had the baby, he was able to cook enough that he could make us a meal. Four kids later, we take turns cooking. So it won’t be overnight but if you have a spouse that doesn’t cook, invite them to help you so, eventually, they can help you. As far as dieting goes, DON”T! I will be writing about postpartum dieting soon, but those first 6 weeks, just eat. Now, don’t take advantage of this, but you do not need to worry about dieting right now. Is it better to eat healthy? Of course! But, you need to make it through each day. Remember also that if you are breastfeeding, you burn up to 500 calories a day! This was very exciting news to me because that means I could eat 500 extra calories. Yay! And don’t even think about exercising yet. For one thing, bleeding will either increase or start again. Lochia usually lasts on average about 2 weeks. Some women even have it for 6 weeks. Regardless of how long it is, the amount is what is important. With each baby, the lochia would slow down, then I would do one thing and it would be heavy again. And by one thing, I mean doing one load of laundry. With my third child, I just went back to my usual routine and I started passing clots and almost fainted. So, slowly increase your activity at a snail’s pace. After a few weeks, maybe go for a walk around the block. No working out those belly muscles either. They may have separated during pregnancy. It is best to wait until the 6 week postpartum visit and be evaluated by your medical professional.
The next essential is healing. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, episiotomy or tear, etc., your body needs to heal. The first step is to bring home every thing they gave you in the hospital. Bring home the disposable pads that were on your bed, peri bottle, mesh underwear, pads, etc. I slept on one of those pads for the first few nights to make sure that I didn’t accidentally leak onto my own sheets. Also, they are great to use when sponge bathing your baby or when they have a blow out. The pads they give you are long and absorbent. I remember feeling like I was wearing a diaper, but they worked. That first day or two, double up on those bad boys. Put one at the the top of your underwear and overlap it with the next one to the other end of your underwear. The best are the ice pack pads but I was only able snag one or two of those to bring home. The next best thing? Homemade witch hazel pads. I was told about these by a friend. Take whatever pad you have and pour enough witch hazel on it to lightly saturate it. Then, wrap it back up and put them in a gallon size freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. It’s like vodka, it doesn’t freeze, it just gets super cold. It feels awesome! Plus, witch hazel is great for broken skin.
The third essential, I may have mentioned already, is sleep! I cannot stress this enough. The best advice is sleep when the baby sleeps. If you are breastfeeding, feed the baby and then both of you lay down. If you are formula feeding, you can do the same or ask your helper to feed the baby while you sleep. Newborns sleep most of the day. They usually have 2 awake times during the day that first week. Besides those times, lay down and relax. Forget about housework and laundry. Trust me, I know for some people this is hard. Most people are excited to have an excuse not to do this. But, I am crazy and a little OCD and I hated it. But I made myself not clean anything because it was better for me. The best thing to remember is that those first few days are to bond. Enjoy your new baby as best as you can and remember to SLEEP!