Taking some quality time during your third trimester to truly reflect on and prepare for your fourth trimester is so important that I’m devoting a second post to it. (And I may write even more. I’m that passionate about it.)
Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it.
Without further ado…a few more tips for planning for a blissful postpartum.
Create a postpartum retreat space.
When readying your home for a new baby, it’s tempting to spend all of your time and energy putting together the baby’s space. It’s a lot of fun, and a rite of passage in and of itself. But consider putting at least as much—if not more—thought into setting up a cozy, restful, special space for you to retreat to and care for your baby and yourself.
Newborns need to eat often, and around the clock. Which means they also fill their diapers nearly as often. Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, for the first few weeks pretty much all you’ll be doing is feeding your baby, soothing your baby, and changing her diapers. Um, on top of recovering from childbirth. And adjusting emotionally, physically, and mentally to this major life change. In short, you’ll want to be as comfortable and rested as possible.
Though “postpartum retreat space” may conjure up images of meditation cushions and candles at a spa or yoga studio, you don’t even need an entire room. Your retreat space could be your bed, the living room sofa, or a rocking chair with foot rest.
Key props are:
- Firm pillows to support you wherever you might need it (the many nursing pillows on the market are nice, but a few regular pillows can work just as well)
- A place to put up your feet
- A plush robe in a colour or pattern you love (this is a good item to put on your baby registry!)
- Blankets (it’s important to keep warm when recovering from birth)
- A table within easy arm’s reach with space enough for all that delicious food people will hopefully bring you, a water bottle, your tablet or laptop and phone, books, and maybe a few other items that are helpful or meaningful to you (photos, essential oils and diffuser, etc.)
Which brings me to…
Be flexible when considering where the baby will sleep.
Maybe you inherited the solid-wood family heirloom crib, and decorated the baby’s nursery around it. Wonderful! But for the first few weeks or months, you may want to keep your baby near your bed (or near your retreat space, if it’s not the same thing), to make those 3am feedings and diaper changes a little less disruptive. Not to mention, your baby, fresh from the womb, will feel more secure in a small space.
You might use a Moses basket, a free Baby Box, or for when you want to be up and moving around, a baby wrap or carrier such as the Tula Free-to-Grow or the LennyLamb LennyUp (another excellent registry item!). All are delightfully womblike for baby, and light and portable for you. And if co-sleeping is an option you’re entertaining, know how to do it safely.
Brainstorm what brings you peace and joy!
Does this seem like an odd tip? Maybe. But it’s perhaps the most important.
It’s simple: when you experience joy, love, and peace, your body makes oxytocin, that amazing hormone that enables you to breastfeed and helps you bond with your baby (and prior to that, causes your uterus to contract during labour). Stress, brought on by overwhelm, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and so forth can inhibit oxytocin production. Which can make it more difficult to breastfeed or bond with your baby…or just deal with life in general.
My sincere hope is that you’ll have abundant support to call on to help you out so that you’re less likely to experience this stress. But it never, ever hurts to tap into what makes you peaceful and joyful.
So I’m asking you to create one more list while you’re still pregnant. Don’t overthink it—just jot down whatever comes to mind when you imagine feeling peaceful and joyful. Make your heart soar. If meditation is your thing, you could even meditate on “peace and joy” and see what comes up.
Take a copy of your “peace and joy” list with you to your place of birth to call on during labour if you need it. And definitely keep a copy in your postpartum retreat space.
You may not be able to fully experience some of the items on your list at a particular moment, but you can at least think about them, which can be enough to calm you or give you a little love boost (and consequently get the oxytocin flowing!). Some items on my own quirky list: the smell of coffee brewing, mountains (or looking at pictures of them—particularly Mt. Shasta and Ama Dablam), running (or reading accounts of ultramarathons—yup, I said quirky), hearing people’s birth stories or telling my own, petting a cat.
Wishing you a beautiful start to your parenting journey!