We live in the world of modern medicine, where there are remedies for pain, quick fixes for every ailment, and professionals in every specialization imaginable. But women have been giving birth to babies for centuries without all these special potions, right? Well... sort of. The truth is that previous to living in the magical world of efficiency and fast resolutions, there were teams of people caring for expecting moms, new moms, and babies. Midwives, wet nurses, apothecaries, nannies, neighbors... there was a village.
Once mom had a baby, she was taken care of by those surrounding her and there were less distractions in everyday life. These days, this isn’t really the case. In fact, when I had my son, I still felt alone even though I had the help of my husband and I was surrounded by my family for a week (and friends after that). I felt that some people were hesitant to come over because they wanted to give me space, and others couldn’t wait to come over and hold the baby, though they weren’t always helpful.
Basically what this meant was that I couldn’t focus on taking care of myself and my son. I was worried that I shouldn’t be sleeping when others came over, that I should clean the house for them, or I should share how amazing being a new mom was. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t work well on little sleep. Lack of sleep makes my brain susceptible to scary changes. Hormones affect me more deeply. Brain chemicals swirl around more vigorously. Small things irritate me. I wasn’t the type of new mom that looked amazing a week after birth and could go out and run simple errands.
I recognize that some people might identify with this situation and comment, “Oh yea, that’s just being a mom...that’s just how it is when you have a baby…don’t worry, that’s all normal…” Well, sort of. For me, I had severe postpartum depression. Yes, being a new mom is difficult. But some new moms may have a more difficult time than others because her brain isn’t working right. In the same vein, some new moms may have a more difficult time with physical recovery. Maybe she had a c-section and has tummy pain. Maybe she had a lot of tearing and the stitches are itchy or uncomfortable. Maybe the birth was traumatic. Or maybe, everything was completely fine, lovely, magical - and she still feels sad, or uncomfortable, or in pain. Yes, even if everything went great during birth, mom has still birthed a child from her body. It is a miracle, and it is hard.
So what do we do now? Having a baby is completely awesome - it can’t all be doom and gloom! The concept of having a village has drifted away, moms are often ushered back to work at just a few weeks postpartum, and moms are expected to keep up with the world even just having had a baby. Well, one way that we can tackle being a new mom in this world is to be prepared.
Sure, you may have gone to a birth class. You may have had a baby shower and gotten lots of goodies. The nursery is ready. But there are probably some things that you may have not known that you should get or take care of. I firmly believe that if moms are prepared, they may have an easier time when baby is born. Though postpartum depression isn’t necessarily preventable, there are definitely steps that moms can take to set themselves up for success.
It is completely imperative to note that mental health is equally important, if not more important, than physical health - especially as a new mom. In fact, the CDC reports that 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression as a new mom! That is bananas. Personally, I found that one of the reasons that my postpartum depression and anxiety were so severe was because I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been - but that’s because I didn’t know!
My sister had an easier time with her mental health after the birth of her daughter, but she had gained so much weight during her pregnancy that she had difficulty with her pelvic floor health. As a physical therapist, she recognized the weakness in her pelvic floor and took action by becoming certified in Low Pressure Fitness - a technique that helps new moms restore their core and strengthen their pelvic floor after birth.
Both my sister and I have also worked in the fields of early intervention for many years. We are very familiar with the importance of early language and motor skills. So when we had our children, our professional brains were chiming into our mom brains and urging us to make sure our kiddos were meeting developmental milestones and we were helping them to achieve these milestones.
Being a new mom is A LOT...taking care of mental health, physical health, healing properly, interacting appropriately with your child. How do you do it all? What’s the best way? Well, ultimately there is no “one way” to do all of these things. BUT you can be prepared to do all of these things if you equip yourself with the right tools.
My sister and I put together a course to teach you these tools and to help you prepare for being a new mom. The course is online, and accessible wherever you have internet! You can start using it before your baby comes, and right after. You’ll learn skills for mental health care, body care and healing, pelvic floor exercises and workout routine, as well as simple, easy, and developmentally appropriate activities to do with your infant. The course also comes with printables to help you organize your life as a new mom!
To learn more about the course, check out the Toolkit for Postpartum Healing website by clicking here. There is even a FREE video workshop to help you get started preparing for the postpartum period!
Alrighty, let’s take a look at the items below and learn about mental and physical healing during the postpartum time! Don’t stress, there is a free checklist at the bottom of this page to help you out.
Mental health care
- Arrange your support system before birth
- Write down your routines
- Maintain a self-care schedule (take baths, get rest, eat healthy)
- Let your partner, family and friends know what you need. Need a nap? Need someone else to make food? Need to go for a walk alone? Be honest about what you need!
Vaginal care after birth
- Use disposable underwear (i.e. Depends)
- Get extra-large pads
- Make some padsicles or have a friend make them for you
- Use your peri bottle and Dermoplast! (most providers will supply you with one, if not, definitely get one and fill it with warm water!)
- Let your provider know if you have any itchiness, pain or swelling
Cesarean care after birth
- Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for wound care
- Try gentle exercises meant specifically for cesarean moms – check out Low Pressure Fitness in module 6
- Make time for emotional recovery – especially if your c-section was unplanned
- Stay in front of your pain by following your doctor’s prescribed regimen
- Keep your wound site as clean as possible
- Check for swelling
- Report any bloody stools to your doctor – you could have an internal hemorrhoid
- Follow weight/carrying restriction guidelines
- You will still bleed – so be prepared with mega pads!
You’re going to be a great mom, or maybe you’re an amazing mom already! If you have access to a village - UTILIZE IT! Let your friends and family help you.
We hope that you find the checklist helpful, and we are always here to answer your questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or come by the website at www.bayridgebirdroom.com.
You can also download the free checklist by clicking here.
About the Author
I'm Kate, a mom, wife, speech-language pathologist, postpartum health advocate, teacher, researcher, and writer. I care about your feelings as a woman and strive to write about topics you'll find interesting, helpful, and FUN. If there's something you'd like me to write about, just let me know in the comments below. I create awesome FREE printables and helpful products to do just that. I only recommend items that I have used and get my kick-ass approval.