What ACTUALLY Matters When You’re Newly Postpartum

What ACTUALLY Matters When You’re Newly Postpartum

By Ashley Olson (certified pediatric sleep consultant, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified infant massage instructor, mama of 3, and founder of Heaven Sent Sleep.)

As I approach my 4th postpartum period, I can’t help but think back to what I was so concerned with during my first postpartum period and what I learned over the next 2 babies I had! 

After having my first child, I was most concerned with these things postpartum:

  • Getting back to “normal”/resuming my “normal” life
  • Assuming he would just go with the flow (but had a really hard time following his lead and didn’t learn his cues well enough early on)
  • Making sure everyone thought I had a seamless transition into motherhood/not letting anyone know how hard it was/how much we struggled

I was super self-conscious of what people thought about me as a new mom because getting pregnant wasn’t easy and I just didn’t want that transition to also be a struggle.

SPOILER: It was.

I just want other new parents to truly prioritize the important things postpartum, and let go of some of the stress it can bring in order to focus on this huge transition!

So… here are my top 5 things that ACTUALLY matter when you’re Postpartum:

1. Rest!

Yeah, I know. I didn’t say “sleep.” I said REST and there is a difference. Rest can be found in a lot of ways, but it won’t be found by you cleaning your house all of the time.

Think of the bare minimum of things that need to be done and do that.

People want to come visit? Great, here’s a chore list! No, you don’t need to be up cleaning your house while someone holds your new baby for you. That’s not how this works. You just gave BIRTH. A freaking physical event that REQUIRES recovery. Prioritize that.

Accept some messiness in your house, okay? I get it if it’s anxiety inducing– I’m not talking about filth. Clutter can happen. It’s expected. Save up and consider outsourcing the cleaning for a few months while you’re newly postpartum. Be thinking about this NOW. Ask for a house cleaner on your baby registry! (and while you’re at it, a sleep consultant, postpartum doula, and pelvic floor PT as well).

2. Nutrition

Nourish your body. Healing comes from inside out and what you fuel your body with matters. You’ll likely be ravenous if you’re nursing your baby, even with combo-feeding in those first few weeks.

Consider having a friend set up a meal train, prep frozen meals ahead of time, or order ready made meals (not things like Home Chef where you actually have to prep and cook)!

**If you love to cook and that’s how you do something that makes you feel like you, then by all means— do what you love and enjoy; but still, take it easy. No 4 course meals for a bit. ;)

3. Bonding with your baby

Nope, not a schedule. Learning your baby’s cues for feeding, sleep, etc. Skin to skin. Calming techniques. Allowing your partner to do the same (not gatekeeping all of this). 

Babies are going to have unpredictable and variable sleeping patterns since they don’t produce melatonin and haven’t developed a circadian rhythm yet. 

Establish routines based on their cues, not on the clock. This is how you’ll learn what your baby needs when they need it and meeting those needs is how you bond.

No one else needs to bond with your baby. I get that newborns are so irresistible and everyone wants to hold them, but that’s not important and they’ll have their time as the baby gets older.

**{‘m not saying never let grandma hold the baby, I’m saying that’s not what the priority is.

4. Your mental health

Things are going to be up and down those first few months thanks to the hormone fluctuations.

That means you’re more susceptible to postpartum mood disorders. Talk to your partner about your mental health, what support you need, and also give them information about warning signs for PPA/PPD/postpartum rage, psychosis, and any other mood disorder. 

Open up to someone if you’re struggling– EVERYONE struggles in some way in new parenthood. Whether it’s with the transition in general, having a baby who hates sleep (👋🏻) , a baby with reflux, etc etc. No one is going to question how much you love your baby if you say “this is hard and I need help.” 

5. Stocking up on supplies

I’m not talking about supplies for the baby, I’m talking about postpartum things that are going to make your life easier and your healing better. 

In general, babies need you, diapers, a car seat, some clothes, a safe space to sleep in, and formula if you’re not breastfeeding (even if you are, it doesn’t hurt to have it for back up!)

But you are going to need: extra large maxi pads, Depends, soothing sprays, a peri bottle, witch hazel pads, after birth tincture to ease the after birth contractions, stool softeners…. To name a few things. You can even buy a recovery kit with everything included!

Don’t forget the baby carrier, white noise, and yoga ball for those extra fussy evenings ;).

As you can see, this list is all about caring for you while you care for your baby. That fourth trimester is a VERY challenging time— you’re normal if it feels foreign and like you don’t know what you’re really doing. You probably don’t

Your baby is a BRAND NEW person who you may have known while they were growing in your belly (or maybe not depending on your circumstances) but there’s a huge difference in taking care of a baby on the inside vs the outside. ;)

Still struggling with all of it?! Let’s chat. 💜

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