Young mother loves her baby. Baby is 8 days old.

A-Z Guide for Postpartum Wellness

It takes nine months to grow a baby and prepare for birth. You’ve researched pediatricians, strollers and asked your provider dozens of questions about your pregnancy. Soon your baby will be here and planning for your “fourth trimester” is essential to postpartum recovery.

This A-Z Guide for postpartum recovery includes some of the top tips I share with families as a postpartum doula. Before we leap into the alphabet, I want to share the most important tip of all:

Try to make time for yourself and partner!
If this is your first baby, enjoy these last few weeks; this is the last stretch of time as a couple. Go out on dates, hold hands, stay up late, sleep in, and just enjoy each other.

OK. Now it’s time for the letters.

A: It’s ok to Ask for and accept help. Friends and family who truly understand will graciously fold your laundry, prepare a meal, clean your house and go grocery shopping for you.

B: If you plan on Breastfeeding, prepare with a breastfeeding class and find an experienced friend or family member for extra support. I suggest having Nipple Cream, Gel Pads, The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers, cabbage leaves and coconut oil on hand before baby comes. Buy a few nursing tanks ahead of time (we love the ones from Target), but hold off on buying nursing bras until after the first couple weeks of breastfeeding when your breasts have reached their new size.

C: Set up a few Changing stations in key rooms around your home with baskets filled with diapers, wipes, burp cloths, diaper rash cream, tissues, hand sanitizer and a few extra outfits for your baby.

D: Yes, you really do need to make a plan for Diapers! If you use disposables, invest in a quality brand such as the Honest Company to prevent leaks. Plan on having at least one package of the newborn size and at least two packages of size one. You can always fold a bigger diaper to fit a smaller baby but you can’t stretch a small diaper to fit a bigger baby!

Eating Healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains is SO important while breastfeeding. Your body needs just as many calories as it did when you were growing your baby on the inside. Say yes to anyone that is offering to make or buy food for you. Better yet, ask a friend to set up a meal train for you.

F: Think carefully about what Foods you are eating if you are breastfeeding. Most babies are sensitive to gassy foods like broccoli, cabbage, garlic, pineapple (bummer) and anything really spicy, along with the milk proteins in dairy. Baby’s intestines can take time to adjust to new foods, and can result in a very fussy baby.

G: If your baby is on Gassy side, then it’s a good idea to have gripe water or gas drops on hand.

H: Having Hemorrhoids isn’t fun but taking care of them with a warm herbal sitz bath can do wonders. Enjoy a ten minute (or more!) soak in your tub with hot water and the herbal sitz solution. If you don’t have time for sits baths, you can use rhoid balm to help soothe your bottom or a sitz bath spray each time you go to the bathroom instead of wiping.

I: Make your own vaginal Ice packs ahead of time. Soak the center section of a large pad witch hazel and freeze in a ziplock bag. These can be made as early as a month before your due date. When you come home from the hospital your sore lady bits will thank you.

Juicing is a great way to get important nutrients and iron into your body during those first few months.

Kick back and relax! Having a baby is no easy task. The more you rest in the first month postpartum, the faster your body will heal! This is the time to welcome support of family and friends, put your feet up, and get to know your baby.

L: Have a list of local Lactation Consultants or postpartum doulas hands on breastfeeding support. Ask for help right away if you notice a painful latch, breast or nipple pain, a swollen read area or blocked milk duct, flu-like symptoms, or if your baby is hard to wake for feedings and is nursing less than 8 times in 24 hours.

M: Support a healthy Milk supply in the first weeks of breastfeeding with regular feedings and limited use of bottles. If your pediatrician recommends supplementing, there are options other than using bottle. If you are worried about your milk supply, call a local Lactation Consultant to get help sooner than later.

N: You will spend a lot of time nursing your new baby, so setting up a few Nursing stations around your home can be a huge help. Find a comfy chair, one that you can imagine spending countless hours in. Have a little table within arms reach with water and snacks (breastfeeding makes you hungry and thirsty!), your phone, paper and a pen and a good book.

O: Set up special play dates for Older siblings can help in the first few weeks. It’s easy for them to feel left out or ignored when there is a newborn needing so much attention. If you don’t have family or friends that live locally, then hiring a postpartum doula might be a good idea.

P: Have you thought about Placenta encapsulation? Taking your dried placenta as a pill can help reduce bleeding, support a good milk supply, speed up recovery, boost energy and replenish depleted iron. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth looking into.

Questions on preparing for baby, setting up a nursery, or overnight newborn care? I am available to help! We offer a free in home 30 minute consultation to anyone interested in learning more about our services. If you need more in depth nursery planning and stocking, we are available for that too!

Recovering from a c-section is hard, and you will need extra help the first few weeks. The first few days will be the hardest, so having someone available around the clock to change, burp and hand you the baby will do wonders for your recovery. Set up a room that you can camp out in, preferably on the same floor as the bathroom, and have meals delivered to you. The Nightingales are great help with overnight care after a c-section.

S: Night Sweats are totally normal within 2-10 days postpartum, often waking up in the middle of the night with the sheets soaked through! Be prepared with an extra clean set of sheets and pj’s for a quick middle of the night change.

T: Vaginal Tears need special attention. Even if you didn’t need stitches, it can still hurt and needs time to heal. I recommend having a sitz bath spray on hand.

U: Don’t Underestimate the time it takes to heal, even after a relatively smooth birth. Your body, heart and mind are going through some big changes, and allowing yourself rest and support really does help the transition.

Vaginal bleeding after a vaginal or cesarean birth usually lasts anywhere from 2-6 weeks and should gradually diminish over time. The more you rest, the faster you will heal. Limit going up and down stairs to once a day. Have friends, family or a postpartum doula lined up to help with household tasks, meal prep and errands for at least the first two weeks. Listen to your body. If your bleeding gets heavier or goes back to bright red, then you are doing too much. Stop, rest and take your time getting back into your normal routine.

W: Drink plenty of Water to support your milk supply. Place extra water bottles in every nursing station and by your bed.

X: Not much begins with the letter X, but it is EXTREMELY important to plan ahead. Put as much thought, consideration and preparation into your postpartum wellness as you do your birth.

You will do amazing, including when you make a mistake or two. Parenting always involves a good dose of trial and error!

Z: Get some Zzzzzz’s………sufficient sleep is vital part of postpartum healing and maintaining your milk supply. Proper rest will allow you the energy you need to nurture your baby to the fullest, maintain a healthy relationship with your partner and transform your experience the first few months as a family. The Nightingales provide overnight newborn care. Contact us to learn more!

Most of all, ENJOY this precious time!

Kristin Smith

Kristin is a wife, mom, doula and a kick ass swaddler. She spends her time helping families get top notch support throughout their parenting journey. When she isn't swaddling babies, she can be found sipping latte's and watching her daughter play softball. Read more...

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