Updated: Feb 26, 2020
I love teaching prenatal yoga for so, so many reasons, one of which is the chance to share, connect, and support each other as a community of women and parents. During a Saturday prenatal yoga class, we talked about the "fourth trimester," or the time after baby is born when women are healing, bonding, and connecting at home. After the birth of my daughter, I remember feeling blindsided by the amount of physical discomfort I was in, as well as the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt for the first few weeks at home. Here are some things I wish I had known:
Consider taking your bed off of a bed frame and putting it on the ground. I spent a lot of time in bed and my bed was too high for me to get in and out of comfortably for a while; I had to use a stepstool.
Don't be afraid to ask people to wait before visiting if that feels more comfortable. Wanting some time and privacy to yourself is ok! Other than our moms, we waited about 2 weeks before having visitors. Other people want friends over right away to share and give support, and that is great, too!
You really won't need much for baby at first. Really! Don't forget about yourself, though. I ended up having to run out to get lots of period pads, ice packs, Alieve, easily-accessible snacks, nursing supplies, comfy clothes, etc, because I didn't have enough.
Give yourself permission to HEAL. Your placenta leaves a big wound inside, which is why you'll bleed for a few weeks. Relax, sleep, settle in. No need to take on the world just yet. Taking a bath was one of my favorite ways to do this. If my daughter cried to the point where I wanted to take over, I'd ask my husband to bring to her me and I'd nurse her in the tub (obviously only do this if that feels safe to you). I'd throw on a podcast or set up my iPad at a safe distance and watch a little Netflix while I was at it :)
During the introductions in our class, I asked the women of Tosa Yoga who were on their second+ pregnancy to share their advice to new moms. I wrote it down and paraphrased to share:
It might seem like your body will never heal or go back to normal, especially after a traumatic birth. It will, it just needs time. Be kind to yourself and be patient. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a physical therapy referral for postpartum restrengthening!
Give yourself permission to slow down and go with the flow with both birth and postpartum life.
I spent so much time and money on trying to get breastfeeding down: lactation consultants, shields, syringes, etc. I put so much pressure on myself that wasn't necessary; give yourself a break. In the end, however you feed your baby is just fine!
Take the stool softeners, even if you don't think you'll need them! You'll thank me...
Breastfeeding was much more challenging than I anticipated and also emotional. Getting help from a lactation consultant was really helpful. I saw the one from Tosa Pediatrics.
I was set on having a natural birth. I was open to an epidural but really wanted to deliver vaginally. When I had to get an emergency C-section, I was disappointed and felt like the experience I wanted was taken from me. In the end, having a healthy baby and mom is what matters, not the process of getting there. Keep an open mind and flexible expectations.
Probiotic drops were really helpful for my fussy baby!
Don't be afraid to be a little assertive when it comes to visitors. It's ok to give a set start and end time to visits, or to ask them to bring food, do a chore, etc. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but people actually appreciate it!
I loved the program Expecting and Empowered. It's a little pricey, but worth it. It gives ways to ease back into movement and exercises after birth. It's not about "getting your body back," but about restrengthening. I downloaded the PDF and got it printed and bound at Kinkos. https://www.expectingandempowered.com/fitness-guides
Here are a few other resources:
Considering pelvic floor PT? I saw Jes Davies at Body Renovation in Tosa after hearing about her success in preventing vaginal tears at birth. It worked for me! http://www.bodyrenovationpt.com/therapists.html Patti Fasciotti leads a post-partum core restore workshop that is awesome and is another great PT choice! https://patriciafasciotti.com/
I saw Dr. Kristin Lee for both perinatal chiropractic and lactation counseling and we loved her: https://drkristenlee.com/ Is is also certified to do baby flipping!
This is a great resource for those experience perinatal mood disorders, including a list of local and vetted providers: http://momsmentalhealthmke.org/
Here is an article with more postpartum advice written as a guide: https://laist.com/2019/09/23/postpartum_resources_recovery_guide_prepare_tips_advice_stories.php?fbclid=IwAR2fjvWm7FBD1Ns6w7-lp74OWYGdHcYbGO7kvvf9yRXOkVjyDpswBl42i34
Authentic Birth Center offers a free birth stories group, as well as a free weekly lactation support group. These can be great resources as you heal and find other women with similar experiences.