I’m 4 weeks into this lovely postpartum phase with baby girl #2, and I must say so far, that this second time around is MUCH more enjoyable than the first time for me. A lot of that has to do with all the preparation (mental and physical) that I did before hand.
My mental preparation this time was the most crucial by far. Becoming a mom for the first time was a huge shock to me and my lifestyle, I really struggled with dealing with my own identity after having a little one to take care of, as well as some postpartum anxiety and a serious case of sleep deprivation which I really struggled with. On top of the mental struggle, I had a hard recovery postpartum (having had an episiotomy), and dealt with a some emotional trauma from my labour experience. So when I got pregnant for the second time, after the initial excitement, a lot of fear set in. Fear for the actual labour, fear of the sleep deprivation in the first months, fear of the physical recovery with a toddler…so much fear and anxiety. So I kicked it into high gear to get myself ready to make this experience more positive and enjoyable.
Here are a few things I did to prepare:
-Started learning about and practicing hypnobirthing
-Writing about my last experience to help myself ‘heal’ and process.
-Hired a doula (my awesome Doula Jenn, was from Hello Baby), it was such a huge help to have her at my birth!
-Started seeing a (free) pre/postnatal counsellor regularly.
-Went to see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist (Google it! All women should go and see one).
-Talked to my midwives about my fears and plans. I was lucky enough to get the same midwife I had at my first birth which was amazing!
-Asked for help from family (for food prep/grocery shopping/toddler-sitting).
-Decided to not take on the ‘sleepless nights’ on my own (thanks to a supportive husband and pump/bottle).
-Wrote a ‘postpartum manifesto’ (important reminders for myself) which I printed and have a copy of in my room and the bathroom, which I read everyday. Examples of items on my manifesto:
“This will not last forever”, “Enjoy your baby”, “You are exactly where you need to be right now”, “slow down”…etc
-Planned for NO VISITORS (other than our mothers) for the first 2 weeks! This was a huge one, especially for Isla and any semblance of normalcy in her life, we were able to establish our new family dynamics as 4. We were also able to be lazy and sleep whenever…I’d recommend this to all new parents.
-Had some items on hand for the postpartum phase…
Here’s what I found to be particularly helpful in the first few weeks/months:
- My Essential Oils and Homemade Products
I made a huge batch of cream (see this recipe for the base), then added different oils for a baby bum cream, face cream, nipple cream to increase milk production, Roller bottles (for immune system, postpartum depression, under eye circles, sleep promoter).
For my baby bum cream and face cream (and allover thick delicious cream), I added: Gentle baby, Lavender, Frankincense.
Milk promoting nipple cream: Fennel.
Roller Bottles: Immune promoter for myself and baby/toddler (Thieves). ‘Happy’ (Joy, Orange, Clary Sage). Under Eyes (Jojoba Oil and Cypress). Sleep Promoter (Cedarwood, Gentle Baby) – rub on bottom of baby’s feet before bed).
2. Special Water Mug
I get SOOO dry when breastfeeding, it’s like all the liquid in my body is literally being sucked out and I am left feeling dry, with sallow skin and some digestion problems. So I got this awesome water mug from the dollar store, and Ryan came up with this simple system so I know I’m getting enough water everyday. Every morning I use a dry erase marker to put 8-10 dots on the top of the mug, and when I fill it up, I erase 1 dot. This mug comes everywhere with me!
3. Bottom Spray
This was a recommendation from my pelvic floor physiotherapist, and I could have made my own, but this one is really great – I love that the bottle sprays even if upside down. I believe it really helped speed up my recovery ‘down there’ 😉
4. Adult Underwear and Granny Panties
Yes…at the tender ago of 32 I stood in the ‘incontinence’ aisle at Wal-Mart and purchased my first box of depends. And I’m not even embarrassed about it, because (after getting the reco from my awesome midwife) these proved to be very useful in the first week postpartum. I felt super confident going to bed and knowing I wasn’t going to wake up to stained underwear, pyjama bottoms and sheets. And they look surprisingly like real underwear – I was really impressed! For the days, I got some nice big underwear with overnight kotex pads.
5. Donut Cushion
If you deliver vaginally, it’s going to be sore to sit for the first couple weeks. So this inflatable donut cushion was amazing! I would use it to sit and nurse, for sitting in the car or sitting at the dinner table. You can buy them at Shoppers Home Health, or Wal-Mart, or you can borrow your kid’s inflatable swimming ring.
6. Belly Wrap
This wrap* was another reco from my pelvic floor physiotherapist, and was great the first few weeks postpartum. I do still wear it some days (they say to wear it until 8 weeks post), but other days I have been forgetting. It’s a very comforting feeling, having this wrap on, and it supposed to feel like a gentle hug. Once the baby is out, all of your internal organs, that were displaced with the growth of your uterus and baby, feel ‘loosey goosey’ (<– that’s a technical term), so this wrap helps keep things together and helps everything return to their normal location.
*It’s pretty expensive, but if you follow them on social media, they often have a sale. I got mine black friday at 25% off.
7. Nursing Food/Drinks/Pills
With my first, I struggled to produce enough milk, especially if I wanted to pump and be away from my baby for a couple hours or have someone give her a bottle while I slept. So this time around I’ve been trying to stay ahead of my production. A few things I ensure to do everyday are: Drink tonnes of water (this in #1), Eat oatmeal every morning (not sure if this actually does anything, but at least it’s tasty and healthy), Drink Mothers Milk tea, take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle pills (I really think this one is helping). Also I try to pump a couple times a day when baby is sleeping for an extra long time, just to create more demand. This suggestion is only for women with an undersupply, some women have oversupply issues, so you wouldn’t need any of these if that is the case for you 🙂
8. Vitamins and Supplements
Although I’ve been eating pretty well so far (thanks to my mom;) ), it’s hard to get everything you need nutritionally when that’s the last thing on your mind. Also if you are nursing, you really need to take in extra nutrients to help your body produce milk AND keep you functioning and healthy. So I bought a daily pill cases, and fill it every week with:
Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek (to promote milk production), Omegas, Probiotics, Vitamin D, Postnantal Multivitamin, Evening Primrose Oil, Greens, and encapsulated placenta pills (made by my doula). This is what works for me, and obviously it’s a good idea to talk to your care provider and do your own research. But if I compare how I felt last time (not taking any supplements, just a prenatal multi), vs. this time with my daily cocktail, it’s a world of difference in how healthy I feel.
9. Nipple Cream
Nursing can be painful at the beginning! I used medi-honey to help my nipples heal faster, and apparently it’s safe for babe and you don’t need to wipe it off before nursing.
The most important thing for me this time around is to enjoy my baby, while still giving my toddler enough attention and love. Having prepped beforehand for sleep deprivation and my mental well-being, and making life a little easier by having these items on hand has truly made this time so much more enjoyable for me. Not to mention all the amazing support from my husband, family and friends, I feel like an incredibly lucky momma <3