We spend lots of time during pregnancy preparing for our baby to arrive, yet often forgetting to dive into how to prepare ourselves for the postpartum recovery. Here 5 tips for you that you may like to consider adding to your own postpartum plan as well.
Prepared for you by your fellow moms, sharing their recent experience of postpartum life.
1. Prepare your house in advance
There is a lot we can do before our little one arrives! All the tips below are shared by a mama after her second week in the postpartum life. Not everything is what we usually think of, so a double thank you to Maria for putting it all together! _/\_
“All the tips below also apply for moms intending to exclusively breastfeed, like me. You never know what can happen: one day my baby was ready to feed, but I had dreadful nipple pain, and was the first time I was going to use one of my two pumps, BUT none of my pumps worked and I did not have formula around. It was a very stressful moment!):
Here things to organize at home before your little one arrives:
- Cleaning station for bottles (get a brush only for bottles and kitchen paper)
- Couple newborn feeding bottles
- Some formula just in case for the peace of mind
- Nipple shield (one is enough;) I bought two for each breast but didn’t realize baby only has one mouth 😉 However, if the pain goes on for longer you might want to have a couple around. You can have one in your stroller bag, as the worst to happen is needing to feed outside and not having it!
- Check the pumps, are they working? Are they the right size for your breast? If you need anything [for Amsterdam moms] check De Boezemvriend . Renting one of their Symphony Medela pump was an absolute great decision and kept my milk levels high at the beginning.
- Get a small bag to keep food cold, and a couple ice packs next to the bed to keep milk cold after pumping. It’s like having a minifridge next to you so you don’t have to get up to put in the fridge and stays better longer.
- For the nipples I got both Lanoline creams and Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs and I believe they both helped.
- Get an old sports bra (see the video below) to use as a pumping bra. Very effective and a lot cheaper than buying an official one.
- I found having a bottle warmer next to my bed really useful – I got it from a friend and made nights so much easier.
- Get AH delivery service at home [food delivery]. [For moms in The Netherlands] AH does yearly subscriptions for about 2,5 euros per delivery and with the app is super easy and saves lots of time and back and forth to supermarket (I still buy all my fresh things in the farmers market twice a week, but for all nonperishables is great), especially with Corona.
- If you are in Amsterdam/the Netherlands, for now and later find a young person in your neighborhood that can do small chores for you. I have a lovely young teenager that charges 5 EUR/ hour and does groceries. Goes to the market, does pick up sometimes from school of my older daughter, or even brought the pump back to the shop. Especially now young people are struggling to find small first jobs and for us it made a great difference so we could both be more at home, rested and bonding.
- Place bottles with water everywhere in the house, in the places where you breast feed. You can reuse energy drinks you can buy for the birth labor, which helps keep you hydrated, which our doula said is key for progressing labor.
- Leave one of those bottles in the toilet – to use with warm water while you pee the first days as it can be painful with tear and stitches and it really helps.
- Have sanitary napkins ready in the toilet and bathroom. Buy some more than the ones you got from kraampaket they go fast!
- I have always bananas and already peeled muesli bars (to avoid middle of the night unwrapping noise) next to by bed. You might get hungry!”
2. Meal train
A brilliant way for having your family and friends involved, and yet helpful! We all love to share our baby when they are born, show off the cute little hands and feet. But what we need more than visitors who drop by to admire our new family addition, are visitors that drop by to help. You could either ask your friends to bring you food instead of another piece of baby clothes, or a cuddly toy. Or bring it a step further! Organize a meal train!
All you need to do:
- Find one person from your friends to coordinate the meal train for you – it should not be on your plate. They can use a website designed to make it easier on them as well. Like the Meal Train website or for Dutch speaking parents, Rondje Koken
- Give them tips on yours and your family’s food requirements, allergies etc. You may also share favorite food ideas, or foods you’ve been craving for during your whole pregnancy. And foods that you really do not like.
- If you are using one of the websites to help organize the meal train, your friends will be able to add the dates when they could deliver food to your home, together with a dish they would make for you or they mark it as a surprise
- If one of your friends is organizing the whole thing for you, he/she would then collect all of those details (dates / times / meals). And when your baby arrives, you communicate with your friend so the cooking can start. You can then also indicate best time of the day for a drop-off.
- And that’s all.
The idea behind the meal train is that your friends understand that it is to help YOU. So they are also in the full understanding that it is about dropping off the meal, not coming by for a baby visit. And as a tip here – take it as it comes without feeling bad about not having visitors at the same time. Having people around takes more energy from us than we realize during the first weeks after our baby arrives. And we need all that energy for our recovery, for our baby, and for our family to grow together as one..
Here feedback from a mom that was gifted a meal train after her second baby arrived:
“The meal train was amazing, best kraamtijd gift EVER! We felt so much taken care of and it was great not to have to worry about food… Really a big relief in that first month!”
And if the meal train is not something within reach, check for healthy food deliveries around you. Here one example for Amsterdam and around:
- Plant B – a service that came up during the first lockdown in March 2020. Myrthe, one of the chefs at Plant B, used to do catering for events, including our Mamamoon retreats (super healthy, tasty and nutritious), but with the lockdown they had to look for other ways to keep things going. They developed recipes of full meals that they deliver to you frozen. Which is amazing during postpartum and parenting life, as you don’t have to eat it on a day you get it, but when you actually need it. My favorite one is pumpkin dish, and now I saw they got a new recipe from Myrthe which I want to try with aubergine. Btw, Myrthe had a baby late September 2020, so also with cooking now with lots of motherhood wisdom 😉
3. Get a breast pump ready
Even if you are planning for breastfeeding, you may find yourself needing a pump for yourself in those first weeks as well. Here is why:
- To help with getting the milk supply flowing
- To help if you find your nipples too painful for breastfeeding
- And following the previous point, to avoid breast infection then, or if you do get one – to use it then as well.
And once you and your little one are all settled and used to mama & baby time when breastfeeding, one bottle a day could be very beneficial as well:
- To give your partner the moment to bond with your baby as well
- If you give the bottle in the evening, use it as a way for yourself to sleep a bit longer – just make sure to pump first, at the time your baby is drinking a bottle, not to lose the rhythm
- To make sure your baby can actually drink from a bottle as it is not a given. It’s not only important for the time when you go back to work, and you are not around the whole day. But even for your own good feeling during maternity leave. A bottle feed is your ticket to a coffee with a friend, or joining a yoga class at a certain time. It also makes it easier on us, as we don’t feel as if we are the sole source of food for our baby, so it makes it a bit lighter mentally..
Here feedback from a mom about her lessons with breastfeeding and giving bottles:
‘Sending my baby girl to daycare at 3 months to go back to work, when she wasn’t able to suck on a bottle, didn’t feel good. Not being able to leave the house for longer than 1,5 hour didn’t feel good – not because I felt the need to do it often, but knowing I don’t have that option made the journey sometimes heavy. Eventually we found a way to teach our little one to drink from a bottle, together with help of great ladies at her daycare, but it was a process I would rather spare to anyone. So also when we had our second baby with us, both me and my husband became very disciplined about giving him a bottle at least every other day, to make sure he doesn’t lose the skill to drink from a bottle like his sister did. My husband loved the time he was feeding his son so much! It gave him a moment to switch off and just focus on that, which is a rare one in the crazy postpartum life, so definitely something to cherish!’Kasia
4. Vaginal steaming (also known as V-steaming or yoni steaming)
For all moms after vaginal birth – it is something to look into! Known to women for centuries, yet, only recently resurfaced again – a treatment when a woman squats or sits over steaming water containing special herbs. A recent study about it found some amazing results in the speed of healing and the comfort of the birthing person!
Vaginal birth can leave us with sore muscles, sometimes with perineum that needs to heal. And that’s when V-steaming is so helpful. To provide relief, relaxation, and help with faster recovery.
You could prepare vaginal steaming by yourself, or have a postpartum specialist help you with it – at home or at their practice. For Amsterdam and The Netherlands, you could contact for help Mirjam and Adisti here or Ombretta here. And for those further away – either research postpartum services in your local area, look for a doula who can provide this treatment to you, or check with your midwife/doctor where to get some help.
Here feedback from a mom about her experience with v-steaming:
“I read the fourth trimester so I’d heard of the practice and was open minded to it. It felt like I’d imagined and Adisti encouraged me to sit comfortably, close my eyes and bring my attention to my breath. These moments to myself during this first couple of weeks were so precious as for the first time in my life I felt « touched out » from daily checks, breastfeeding and it was nice to just have my body to myself and for pampering. Whether or not it helped that particular region, I don’t know. I’d had a second degree tear which was stitched up and healed with no issues.”Peta
A bit of a different one, yes. After all stepping into a room with -110 degrees is not something that we all do every other day. It is cold. But it takes only 3 minutes, and after labor – honestly, what is 3 minutes?!
I came across cryotherapy in 2004 in Poland after a knee accident when skiing – I twisted my knee, meniscus got broken and cross ligaments were partially torn. My doctor advised me to try full body cryotherapy as part of my recovery. As a result my meniscus heeled and I didn’t need a surgery at that time.
When pregnant with Miko I thought I could try it as part of my recovery as well.. Even though labor is something we are made for, it’s not a usual thing that we let our body go through every other day, so it seemed just about right to give it a try. I did check with my midwives and my GP if there is anything I should worry about, like any impact on breastfeeding, but since there was no red flags from their side, I simply gave it a go.
And it was probably one of the best decisions I could take!
- My healing process went very quick compared to my first pregnancy.
- I also noticed that coming back to my previous shape was progressing very well.
- My energy levels were much higher on the days I went for a session, which is so much needed when you have a newborn and a toddler at home!
- I noticed I could fall asleep faster not only that first time, but every time I got awake during the night – and that was many times with our little Miko!
- Despite disrupted sleep, I went back to my early morning yoga practice.. every day.. it’s something I wasn’t able to do with Lily. Even though with her I had way more hours at night to sleep, I often woke up tired and demotivated to start my day on the mat. Not this time. I get 4-5 hours sleep, sometimes disrupted more than once, and I still got on the bike before 6 am to go to the studio and do my practice before kids woke up..
- And something not to be underestimated – it became a driver for me to get out of the house, even on those days when I really didn’t feel like it. Sometimes alone, sometimes with Miko – I had my way of putting him to sleep during a walk, and he had his little safe corner to rest and wait for me for those 3 minutes I was away.
Regular cryotherapy sessions felt like a secret ingredient in my postpartum journey. But it shouldn’t be a secret to anyone! That’s why I keep on sharing my experience with you as much as I can 🙂
You could look up a full body cryotherapy around you. Or if you are in Amsterdam or around, you could visit the place which became my second home, Freezlab at Olympic Stadium.
Here feedback from two happy kids waiting for their mama to get out of -110 degrees 😉
By Kasia Pokrop HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator & Yoga Instructor