Preparing for your baby’s arrival is a super exciting time.
If you prepare well, you’ll make the most of your maternity leave and postpartum period. You’ll heal better, bond with your baby better and even enjoy yourself more.
Here are our best tips for making the most of your postpartum recovery.
How to Make the Most of Your Postpartum Recovery and Maternity Leave
- Set realistic expectations
Healing after birth and recovering postpartum isn’t a cakewalk. There’s so much planning to do while pregnant. Planning for baby, planning for birth. So many moms forget to plan for their postpartum too!
With all the crazy things that happen to your body postpartum, it can be quite shocking. Find a few really good postpartum recovery tips and make the most of your healing time.
Don’t expect your postpartum to feel like a vacation. It can be very enjoyable, but it’s not all relaxation and fun. There are hard things too, like complete and total exhaustion and navigating newborn baby care and possibly breastfeeding.
It’s much easier to expect it to be difficult, prepare well and be pleasantly surprised about how much you enjoyed it, instead of being devastated and disappointed by your experience.
- Give Yourself Permission
Mom guilt is very real and can start from day one. Give yourself permission to let “all the things” go. Cleaning, cooking and any other responsibilities you may have, back burner those!
It’s OK not to be responsible for everything right now. You can only be good at one or two things at once. So right now, be good at healing and bonding.
The rest of the stuff will get picked back up later. Or better yet, done by someone else for a while.
If you have family and friends you can rely on, ask them for help! Don’t feel like you have to do it all to be a worthy mother.
- Figure out Your Meals Ahead of Time
Since you won’t be doing much cleaning or cooking, you should try to figure out what you’ll be doing for food ahead of time.
In an ideal world, you would have fresh, healthy food catered to you daily. If you can afford this, it is worth every penny.
However, in the real world, most new moms cannot afford that. Instead, try prepping easy freezer meals ahead of time.
- Keep it moving
Even if you’re really tired, try to keep active each day. Once you’re feeling up to it, start taking daily walks with your baby.
The fresh air will do both of you some good. Walks are a great way to let your mind wander and get enough exercise that you receive those feel-good endorphins.
Not only will this make you start to feel better physically, but it’s especially important for your mental wellbeing during your postpartum period. With so many hormonal changes every new mom is at risk for things like postpartum anxiety and depression. This is one way to help keep those things at bay.
- Set a plan for the day
If you’re used to being super productive during the day, you may start to feel like you’re getting nothing done during your postpartum recovery and maternity leave.
Of course, this is not true. The time you spend healing and bonding with your baby is time very well spent and will pay off big time later.
But I get it. Sometimes, you need to feel like you did something productive each day to keep your sanity.
If this sounds like you, the best thing you can do is make a short list in the morning of a few simple tasks you would like to see get done. You can then create a loose schedule to when you’ll do those things.
You can use the time when your baby is hanging out in a baby swing or just hanging out to get a few of those tasks done. You could even pop your new little one in a baby carrier. This is a surefire way to get things done while still bonding with your baby.
- Prepare for breastfeeding ahead of time
If you plan on breastfeeding, do your research ahead of time. Breastfeeding is not quite as easy as it seems, and when things don’t go perfectly, it can be very stressful.
A bad latch can make feeding unbearable in a matter of days and can create a vicious cycle of low supply and injured nipples. Instead find great breastfeeding tips and research ahead of time how baby should be latching, and what you can do if things go wrong.
The hospital should be able to provide you with a lactation consultant if you birth there, so take advantage and ask LOTS of questions and practice with them there. Don’t feel embarrassed or stay quiet if things don’t feel “quite right.”
This is not uncommon and they’ll understand that it can be frustrating and difficult sometimes.
One of my favorite ways for new moms to get ready with breastfeeding is this very affordable breastfeeding course. It’s offered by my friend Stacey who is a certified lactation educator. It’s awesome and costs about the same price as a book.
- Find the Joy in Motherhood
Being a new mom is hard. Finding the balance between caring for yourself and your baby can be a real struggle. If you’re having a hard time, know that it gets easier.
Try focusing on specific moments to capture in your memory. Things like how, how good your baby’s hand feels rubbing on your body during feeds, or how sweet new baby smiles are (once it finally happens! and it’s totally worth the wait.)
Be ok with the fact that you’re not going to enjoy every moment of it and that’s perfectly acceptable and even…. normal!
Also, find three things every night that you are grateful for. It shifts your mind and you’ll enjoy things much more. This can make all the difference between surviving in motherhood and thriving in motherhood, at least for me it does.
Stormy is a mom of 3, two of whom she grew herself. She loves coffee, reruns of the office and writing about all things pregnancy and postpartum. She has her own blog over at pregnantmamababylife.com.