There are so many books and blogs about how to stay in shape during your pregnancy, how to recover quickly after giving birth, what baby products you need and on and on and on but what I feel is most important and most overlooked is that period of time after you give birth all the way until you feel like putting on pants again. (Which is hopefully a month or more! You deserve it!)
I call this the babymoon. I know typically a babymoon is a vacation couples take before the baby is born, but once you experience the post birth period, you'll see. It really is a babymoon. You are head over heels in love with this new little person, you cannot get enough of them. You never want to put them down, especially to do
|Night stand with 3 drinks, night light, basket of essential items, tissues, and snacks so I never have to leave the bed|
In many cultures this period of time is called lying-in and in places like China they have systems in place where women hardly have to lift a finger for the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth. I first learned about it in Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Mama and she made it sound so marvelous, so I read a bunch of blogs about how to make the most of it and I made sure I was prepared. It was really worth it, I loved my first 6 weeks with baby and I felt relaxed and was able to really savor every moment (and figure out what the heck I was doing!)
Here is my to-do list, to-buy list, and tips to truly enjoy and soak up all that new baby time you can while also feeling relaxed and pampered. You can read about why I chose a home birth here and check out the birth story of my son as well.
|Basket in our family bed with baby essentials easily accessible for 2am diaper changes|
Preparing Your Relaxing Space
- Create a sanctuary in your bedroom! Make sure it is a space that helps you feel relaxed and happy to just be in. If you need to remove clutter, get some new curtains, fresh sheets, whatever you need to make the space more enjoyable and relaxing, do it! You want to feel good in the space you will be spending so much time in.
- Consider buying an aromatherapy diffuser and a few essential oils. Lavender is great for the bedroom to help relax you, there are also blends specially made for a relaxing mood or sleepytime. Just make sure to avoid peppermint as it reduces milk production. The diffuser is great to have going during the day to enhance relaxing happy vibes and help you all sleep well at night.
- A himalayan salt lamp makes a wonderful night light, which is needed for nursing at night while co-sleeping. You can usually get one with a dimmer switch, or just cover it halfway at night with a towel or t-shirt so it is not so bright but gives enough illumination so you can nurse your babe without bright lights. They are also said to remove positive ions from the air and purify your space, plus the glowing warm light really sets the mood in the room.
- Prepare a basket on your nightstand, within reach of where you sleep, with some essentials: lip balm, lotion that is preferably homemade and safe for you and baby, refillable glass water bottle, 2-3 protein bars for midnight snack, helpful book on breastfeeding or other new mama book(I had The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding), phone charger, and journal. Then I kept my breastpump under the nightstand for nights when he didn't eat a lot, I could easily pump.
- I also prepared a basket with baby items so I never had to leave the room to get: diapers, wipes, change of clothes, nail file(or just nibble their nails with your teeth, less scary), burp clothes, blanket or two(one light and one more warm and cuddly). I kept this basket on our king size bed against the headboard in the middle, so baby fit perfect just below it and we had all the essentials within reach. (Makes for easy half-awake 2am diaper changes) You can kinda see it in this pic right near my head, it is grey and white chevron print.
To Buy or Make List
- New Mama Bottom Spray - I cannot even tell you how much I loved this stuff! It is amazing! You can get it online or even at Target. Basically this is your recommended bathroom routine for the first few weeks: go pee, do not wipe, spray with New Mama Bottle Spray and or Herbal Sitz Tea in a peri bottle, done. I also used baby wipes for the first month instead of toilet paper to help reduce irritation from hemorrhoids and all the healing that was happening.
- Padsicles - This amazing invention was the best feeling on my hot angry baby maker the first few weeks. I did two versions, one was a recipe I found on Pinterest and the other was using the Herbal Sitz Tea from above. Generally the instructions are to buy pads without any added chemicals or scents, create a mixture of pure no-alcohol witch hazel, pure no color or scent added aloe vera, a few drops of lavender and frankincense and cover the pads with the mixture, fold them back up and put them in a bag in the freezer. Or make the Herbal Sitz Tea and pour it over the pads, fold them back up and freeze them. Then wear them 24/7 for the first few weeks after you give birth. It's like an ice cold beer on a 100 degree day, but for your vagina. 😁
- Mama Bottom Balm - Ahhhhmazing for healing after any stretching, tearing, trauma, etc. I applied this after each bathroom use and I feel like I healed very quickly, I also had zero pain, I never even had to take one ibuprofen and I feel like this balm played a big part. It has a fabulous mixture of organic nourishing herbs and oils to help you heal faster.
- To continue the bathroom theme, make sure you are stocked up with a package or two of big fat pads that you would never wear out of the house. They are SUPER absorbent and will last half the day. Make sure you buy some without any scent or chemicals and maybe even organic cotton, usually have to look at a health food store for these. These sexy suckers are going to be there when you laugh for the first time and realize your bladder is maybe not as strong as it used to be(and because there will be blood, a lot, it's normal).
- Labor-ade(the healthy gatorade just for birthing mamas!) - I probably wouldn't have lasted through 30 hours of labor without this stuff. It literally saved me. It is the perfect mixture of coconut water, trace minerals, raw honey, salt, and Rescue Remedy. I made it into ice cubes that I then added to my water or juice that I drank all throughout my labor. Thank you Mommypotamus for this recipe!
- Absorbent organic cotton pad - If you are co-sleeping/bedsharing you will want at least 3 of these. Have baby sleep on the pad and then you can easily pull the pad and baby close to you when it's time to nurse while side lying, and then slide the pad back to the middle of the bed. It will also absorb all the milk leakage, baby dribbling, spit up, and other random fluids. Pretty much every night this got changed out by 3am for a fresh dry one, and we only had to wash our sheets once a week.
|Using organic cotton pads under baby makes bed sharing easier, cleaner, and dryer!|
To Do When Baby Arrives
- Absolutely nothing but stare at his or her precious face, memorize every little wrinkle on those feet and enjoy this beautiful time. Under no circumstances are you allowed to put pants on! Tell your partner that they are now the bouncer/door person and if you are not up to visitors, it is their job to turn them away. This is your time, be selfish, it IS all about you and that perfect little squish! Family and friends have many years to get to know this little person. You only get so many weeks of no other responsibilities before life begins again and you have to put those damn pants on.
- But seriously, you need to heal. It is so important for your body to have this time to rest, recover, process, and get to feeling like yourself again. In some cultures they do not even allow the new mother to walk, she is on bedrest and this is only because it is what is best for her body. Not because she feels weak. You may feel wonderful and alive and full of energy, but your body truly needs TIME to heal. It has to put all your organs back in place, release a ton of fluids and blood, shrink your uterus back down, start producing milk, process the fact that you just gave birth and all the emotions that came with it, and so much more.
- You will not get this time back; real life will begin again soon enough; you will want to have beautiful memories of your child's first few weeks of life and how glorious it was for you both.
- Cuddle that little squish skin to skin for many reasons including stimulating milk production, releasing oxytocin, relaxing your body and mind, comforting baby(learn more about that here), preventing postpartum depression, connecting with your newest family member and helping them feel safe, secure, and loved.
- Give Daddy time to cuddle him or her skin to skin as well. Dads can bond just like we do during these early days and baby will recognize his voice and want to get to know him as well. Use this time to go take a sitz bath, eat the food that Daddy(hopefully) prepared for you, or just sleep.
|Having a staring contest with my new squish, he always wins|
|Skin to skin after he finished his 13th meal of the day|
- Don't obsess over it, but try to take at least a photo a day, and videos! Looking back on videos of your 1 week old opening their eyes and rooting for the breast will make you cry just a few months later.
- Make sure your partner is on board with taking care of you, or enlist the help of a friend or family member to come over everyday for the first few weeks to care for you while you care for your baby. Someone to prepare meals, refill your water, do any house cleaning and walk the dogs.
- Consider putting a sign like this on the front door if you expect a lot of visitors or unexpected guests.
Ask for help if you need it! Whether it is about getting breastfeeding advice from a lactation consultant or a super experienced friend, help with postpartum depression, or excessive bleeding.
I am not a physician, please consult your doctor before following any medical advice I may give. None of the links in this post profit me, I am simply sharing the resources that best helped during my postpartum period. I hope they help you as well! Thanks for reading.