10 Tips for a Thriving Postpartum

Apr 15, 2021


10 Tips For A Thriving Postpartum

Throughout our whole pregnancy, we check our pregnancy apps weekly to learn about the changes to our bodies and our babies.  We buy books on what to expect.  We talk with friends and join mom groups.  We take classes to prepare us for labor (can we ever be really prepared for labor?).  Sadly, postpartum is something that we are ill-prepared to face.

Let’s dive in! In the first 6 weeks postpartum, our bodies go through so many changes.  Healing from delivery, either vaginal or cesarean sections.  Stitches, swelling, bleeding, hormone levels crashing back down to normal.  Cramping, engorged breasts, sore nipples.  Hot flashes, night sweats, smelling like a man after showering and using your partner’s deodorant.  Feeling alert, night sweats, wondering about our baby’s well being.  All of this, totally normal. Welcome to postpartum.

Enter 10 tips for a thriving postpartum

Read these. Share them with your partner and family.

1. Be kind to yourself

Your body has gone through the biggest physical change most of us will experience in our lifetime.  We don’t recognize ourselves in the mirror.  We’re sleep-deprived.  We’re learning what it means to provide total care for another human and keep them alive.  Our hormones are changing.  Feel like crying?  Let it all out.  Feeling like you need to sit instead of doing that load of dishes?  Grant yourself that permission.  Be kind to yourself.  As much as you extend kindness and understanding to others, give yourself the gift of kindness for the first 6 weeks postpartum.

2. Ask for what you need

Do you need 10 minutes to yourself to shower and change a pad?  Ask for it.  Are you feeling desperate from sleep deprivation?  Call a trusted family member or friend and ask for help holding the infant so you can sleep for an hour.  Feeling like you can’t stop crying and your partner is looking at you like you have three eyes?  Ask for a hug.  Never underestimate how much being held can help you postpartum.  Our partners, family, and friends cannot read our minds. Learn to speak up and ask for what you need in the moment. 

3. Set two small goals

A great goal is achievable and measurable.  Before the baby comes, come up with two things you can do every day.  Build in these small habits.  As mothers, we often pour into our family before addressing our own needs. It is really hard to parent from a place of empty.  Start small.  Here were my goals: shower every day and write down one sentence about my day.  It’s been fun to look back at the first weeks of my children’s lives with simple statements like “poop explosion at the pediatrician’s office” and “ugly cried at the park from the joy of having two children”.

4. Don’t neglect your pelvic floor

What is the pelvic floor, you may say? The pelvic floor is the hammock of muscles that are splayed across the bottom of your pelvis. They hold up your female pelvic organs and work in conjunction with your core muscles, back muscles, and diaphragm.  Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor postpartum and improve bowel and bladder function.  Don’t know what a Kegel is?  Ask Google!

5. On the note of bowel function…

The first bowel movement postpartum can be a challenge.  Between being swollen or possibly having stitches following a vaginal delivery or splinting a brand new incision after a cesarean section, that first bowel movement can be hard.  Your postpartum nurses at the hospital are there to support you. They have an arsenal of stool softeners and are there to make that first BM more tolerable.  Speak up, ask for help.  Remember that hydration and fiber will be your best friend those first few weeks, especially if you are breastfeeding.

6. Nourish your body

You are bleeding.  Your hormones are changing.  Some are breastfeeding and sustaining their babies with their own bodies.  Nourish your body.  Invest in a large water bottle, keep it full and in arms reach.  Make a goal to refill it several times throughout the day.  Keep hand held, healthy snacks available. Bars, nuts, fruit with nut butter, hard boiled eggs, veggies and hummus, string cheese, lunch meat, bowl of oatmeal, energy bites, or even lactation cookies.  Keep these things handy for when you’re feeding a baby in the middle of the night and feeling the fluctuations of blood sugar. Easy egg bake muffins, veggie loaded soups, lean proteins and roasted vegetables.  Refuel your body with the healing power of food.

7. Stay connected

Postpartum can be isolating.  You’re at home, avoiding germs, sleeping whenever you can, learning what it means to be a mother.  The phone rings, but phone calls feel too overwhelming.  Your phone is blowing up with texts, but the only time you can seem to remember to respond is the 2 am feeding.  Find friends and family you trust.  Invite them in.  Join a mom’s group, find lactation help, accept meals from friends.  Respond to that text at 2 am.  Stay connected.  One day soon, your baby will be bigger, your baby will be sleeping, and you’ll be ready to leave your home and get together.  Stay connected in the interim.

8. Monitor your mood

Crying more than usual?  Feeling your heart rate pick up when your baby cries?  Checking on your baby throughout the night to see if they’re still breathing?  Much of this can be totally normal.  As mothers, we have tripped a wire in our brains that we cannot undo.  We are hardwired to look out for and anticipate the needs and dangers for our babies.  It’s instinctual.  It helps our baby survive and thrive.  Is your mood impacting your sleep, your ability to care for yourself or your baby, or your ability to get out of bed?  This is not normal.  Postpartum anxiety and depression can be really common.  Trust your gut, a woman's intuition is unmatched and reach out to your healthcare provider right away with concerns.  Don’t allow the stigma of fear or shame to stand in the way between you and your best mood postpartum.  Thoughts of harming yourself, your baby, or others are not normal.  It is an emergency. Treat it as such.

9. Libido changes

Don’t be surprised if your sex drive is in the toilet postpartum.  Our sex drive can be highly influenced by lack of sleep, hormonal fluctuations, physical pain (think healing tissue after stitches), and body image.  Once cleared by your provider to resume intercourse, here are some tips for getting back in the saddle.  Go slow.  The first few times, some discomfort can be normal.  We worry about ongoing pain that does not get better with time.  Lube will be your best friend.  While breastfeeding, our estrogen levels are low.  As a result, we don’t mount the same natural lubrication that we do when we’re having monthly cycles.  Increasing foreplay and added lubrication can help with vaginal dryness.  Use protection.  Women will ovulate (release a fertile egg) prior to their first period.  Meaning, you will return back to fertility prior to having your first period.  Avoid an unintended pregnancy by using protection.

10. Partner with your healthcare providers

Your healthcare team exists to see you optimize your physical, mental, and emotional health in your postpartum journey.  Reach out to your provider with any concerns and don’t forget your 6 week postpartum visit!
Written by Kelly Fisher, WHNP
When I'm not at work, you can find me chasing our 2 young sons, around the house and trying my best to soak up the Colorado sunshine!  Schedule an appointment with Kelly by visiting www.westsidewomenscare.com.

Category: postpartum