I posted this list last week on our Facebook page, but allow me to describe each item here, in depth, as well as introduce you to the sixth and most important factor in a positive postpartum experience.
*Fair warning, this is a bullshit free zone.*
First: The Tangible
Stretchy Pants. When your body spends 40ish weeks shifting and stretching to make space for a tiny kickboxing champion, it is going to take just as long or longer for everything to find it’s relocated resting place. What?! Yes. Leave any pants with buttons or zippers in your off-season bin of clothes, there is no mother who needs to feel any MORE uncomfortable than one already does post birth. Vaginal or cesarean births alike, there is healing to be done, none of which is facilitated by pants requiring manual readjustment of postpartum belly jelly. Seriously. Leggings, elastic waisted pants, yoga pants, etc. are going to be your best friends for at least the first few months after baby is born. ENJOY and EMBRACE the stretchy pants, y’all. Pro tip: if you must wear jeans or slacks, no one will know if you continue to wear your favorite maternity jeans or slacks for a few months (years?). I promise.
Tank Tops. Whether or not you breastfeed, your fluctuating hormones plus that tiny furnace of a baby you just birthed will keep you nice and toasty. There is so. much. sweating. after giving birth. It’s one of the most surprising aspects of the postpartum period for many mothers. Raise your hand if you frantically texted your best friend: I’m losing about half my own body weight in sweat every night (slight exaggeration), what is this insanity?! I, for one, asked our family doctor at baby’s first visit. “What’s with all the sweating? Is that normal?” She chuckled. Totally normal, thank your hormones. Tank tops are extremely useful tools in the postpartum sweatpocolypse because they are cheap, come in a wide variety of colors and cover you up enough to answer the door when your friends and family come to drop off food and adorable baby gifts…and by friends and family I mean UPS and Instacart. 🙂 Pro tip: Say YES to help and food delivery. Your purpose in life after giving birth is to snuggle that baby and rest. Plus, gotta maximize that faux-maternity leave!
Water and Snacks. Infants have preferences from day 1: some prefer to be in constant motion, others prefer that you sit in that one position with the pillow on the left and the other pillow under your legs and the light on, no not that one, the other one. Yes. What? You’re hungry? But baby is sleeping peacefully for the first time in 3 hours, therefore You. Can’t. Move. Have water bottles in each room of the house, or one giant one with a handle that you can carry around with you. Have food you can eat with one hand: in the nightstand, on the counter, next to the sofa. Keep the fridge fully stocked. Trust me. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you will realize you are STARVING and PARCHED at the very moment your precious bundle of joy finally falls asleep in the crook of your arm … and at every other moment, let’s be honest. Pro tip: have your partner, helpful friend or postpartum doula make snack plates for you and leave them prepared in the fridge for easy access.
Dry Shampoo. I think this is self explanatory. But just in case, here’s my scientific algorithm as proof: Sleep deprivation + snuggly baby + showers which require standing up = dry shampoo.
Second: The Intangible and Most Valuable
No regard for what people say about your postpartum glow. Anyone who has anything less than wonderful to say to a person who has just spent the better part of the last year growing another human in their own body can … love themselves. You are incredible and fabulous. You deserve to take excellent care of yourself: surround yourself with people who adore you and your baby, who will bring you food, who prepare tea for you or pour you a glass of wine, (whichever you prefer) WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. Surround yourself with caretakers and accept. help. You do NOT need to do this alone, it doesn’t make you stronger or more momtastic. Pro tip: get yourself the next item on the list….
Hire A Postpartum Doula! Most of us who live in the city don’t necessarily have doting family members living next door. Many of us have moved to Chicago from other areas of the midwest and beyond, so while we may have amazing friends and family who will come to visit us in our parenting newness, it’s likely that they are not able to stay overnight and feed your baby for you so you can sleep. They usually won’t finish folding your laundry, run the dishwasher and tidy up the living room while you take a nap. Postpartum doulas do all those things, and more.
Yes, but how much does THAT cost?! A 40 hour contract with a Third Coast postpartum doula is the same price as a Third Coast birth doula. But with a postpartum doula, you can catch up on your sleep for most of those hours while your doula takes care of everything else. It’s the birth world’s best kept secret: postpartum doulas give you the gift of rest and self-care so that you have the energy and emotional capacity to take care of your baby. Book your fairy godmother today!