Everyone tells you what you need for baby when they're first born. What about YOU though??
Everyone tells you what you need for baby when they’re first born. Diapers, wipes, washcloths, a snot sucker, etc. But what about the birthing person? What’s going to make THEIR life easier? There are probably 100 things that helped me during my postpartum, but here are 5 things I didn’t think would be SO beneficial during that crucial healing time. Let us know what your lifesavers are for the postpartum period in the comments below.
5) Crowdsourced Meal Prep
2 weeks before I was due was Canadian Thanksgiving and we wanted to be the hosts of Friendsgiving (though at 38 weeks pregnant and with severe hip pain, I have no idea why). 20 lb turkey (yes, 20 lbs) with all the fixings for 15 people was no easy feat – but we turned it into a ‘trade you thanksgiving dinner for a freezer meal party’. We handled the turkey and everyone was asked to bring a freezer meal to help us get through the first few weeks of post partum bliss (or hell). Quiches, stuffed peppers, and soups filled our freezer and meal gift cards from those who can’t cook filled out carts.
It was our best idea. We got to have one last hurrah before the baby came with all our friends and we got the most delicious.
One thing we should’ve done was get people to sign up for what they were bringing, so we wouldn’t have 12 of one thing. We didn’t have this issue, but I could see how it could be problematic to have 15 chicken pot pies. Turn any excuse for a party into a freezer meal party.
One of the best things that helped me with not only my labour and delivery but with my mental health was Rhiannon the founder of Birth Boss. WTF does she do? She helps families feel empowered during their transition to parenthood through non-biased support. She’s based in Toronto but offers virtual sessions for the rest of the globe.
She helped me with a lot, but the main thing she helped me with was communicating with my partner. She asked the tough questions, like ‘what do I need to feel supported’, and it forced me to really figure out what that was. Did I need Bryce to make breakfast? Did I need him to come to all my appointments?
We created a birth vision board that included every possible scenario. Like what to do in case we have to have a hospital birth (which we ended up having).
Honestly my labour and delivery was so fast by the time we got to the hospital, Rhiannon made it into the room and the baby was out in an hour and 12 minutes. But that hour was the most intense thing ever. I couldn’t tell Bryce what I needed. I couldn’t communicate anything I had back labour and contractions on top of contractions, but because we had 2 prenatal visits and really talked in depth about what I wanted as comfort when the time came. Gentle touch, aromatherapy, words of affirmation, she led it all. And if something wasn’t working, she would direct Bryce to try something else. It was amazing to 100% completely trust that she was there to support me and I felt so so supported.
3) Padsicles – so good I might even make them for fun in the summer
Thank god for these heavenly pillows of icy relief. I made a batch and gave some to one of my other pregnant friends who said they SO nice to have after birth and told me to make way more for myself. So I did.
I didn’t tear my perineum during my deliver, but I did tear my labia (yup) and pelvic floor (yup, yup) because of my little one’s claws that she kept by her face all the time. My recovery took 14 days and even still, I can’t sit for too long of a period. Getting in and out of bed was torturous, going to pee took about 20 minutes with the whole routine I developed, and I couldn’t sit up. I literally stayed on my side in bed for at least a week and a half.
Here’s my padsicle recipe:
Mix 8 drops of oils of tea tree, lavender, and geranium with 2 oz of witch hazel and 1 oz water. Put into a spray bottle and shake well.
Have all pads opened (keeping it attached to the packaging and paper covering the adhesive) to make it easier to assemble.
Take 1 tablespoon of 100% pure aloe vera gel and spread it on (like jam) over the part of the pad that will hit the lady bits.
Spritz evenly (2-3 times) over the aloe vera shmear
Re-wrap the pads in the packaging they came in and stick in a ziplock in your freezer
*bring a pack to the hospital so you can get that soothing benefit asap. I forgot mine and regretted it. There should be a freezer in the kitchenette that you can store them in during your L&D.
2) The Happiest Baby on the Block
I thought The Happiest Baby on the Block might have been the book equivalent of clickbait – yes, of course, I want the happiest of babies, who wouldn’t? The book claims that there’s a way to calm most crying babies “usually in minutes”. Dr. Karp’s method is based on 4 main concepts:
The Fourth Trimester – why babies need the womblike atmosphere in its first 12 weeks of life
The Calming Reflex – an ‘off switch’ all babies are born with
The 5 S’s – 5 steps to turn on the calming reflex
The Cuddle Cure – combining the 5 S’s to calm any baby (including a colicky one)
As Bryce and I read through this book we felt more confident about transitioning into parenthood knowing we had the right tools at our disposal. Then she was born and we used what we learned, and it actually worked. The longest Etta has cried has maybe been 1 minute and 30 seconds and it was because I had to pee while she was hungry and Bryce has to try to entertain her. The main takeaway from the book was to treat Etta like she was still in the womb, by not overstimulating her, keeping her in dim light if she’s fussy, swaddling her tightly, keeping her in close skin-to-skin contact whenever possible and reading her cues to know when she’s hungry before she erupts. I read quite a few books during my pregnancy and this book has been the most beneficial to keeping Etta calm and us sane.
1) Diono Quantum Classic
Strollers were one thing I did not understand, especially for a newborn. Couldn’t you just carry them everywhere? Isn’t baby-wearing super important for bonding and comfort in the ‘fourth trimester’? I was intimidated. There were hundreds of different variations, accessories, and configurations that I was sure I didn’t need one until the baby was older and preferred to sit in the stroller as opposed to my chest.
And then we wanted to go to the grocery store when I was 5 days postpartum. Engorged, sore, and tired there was no way I could’ve figured out how to wrap up Etta AND have her close to my chest. I would have been in way more agony and mental duress. So we both looked at the stroller that sat assembled in our living room for weeks prior to Etta being born, we plopped her in and she went right to sleep.
The Diono Quantum Classic was ideal initially because of the bassinet feature – it folds easily from carriage mode to toddler seat with 4 clips, meaning you can use it for birth to toddler (50 lbs) without needing to buy any additional accessories. We wanted a stroller that we didn’t need to keep upgrading and this was it. We have the Chicco KeyFit car seat, so as a travel system we just needed the car seat adapter if we were travelling anywhere by car. It also comes with a carriage liner and mattress that is so plush she falls asleep in it every time – bumps in the sidewalk and all.
The main selling feature? The large basket and XL seat that we can use to hold all our stuff for us on those grocery hauls – like almond milk and bananas, the essentials. So yes, this is an absolute essential for us. A premium stroller without the premium price tag.
The Diono Quantum Classic helped me leave the house in those early postpartum days when I couldn’t babywear yet but still wanted fresh air to help with my recovery. SUCH a blessing to have and I get so many compliments on the stroller everywhere we take it.