I’ve read a lot of articles about postpartum tips and what happens after birth.
As a pregnant mommy, it’s one of the major things you feel like you need to know. The postpartum journey is super important!
Having gone through it twice, there are a few unique tips about what happens directly after birth and then the few weeks after that I don’t remember seeing often, if at all, and so I’d like to share them with you. For me, knowing them beforehand would have been majorly helpful.
There is a life-saving after birth tips in section 2! Don’t miss it!
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What Really Happens After Birth?
If you’ve researched postpartum healing and what to expect, you already know a bit about what’s ahead after birth. You likely have a general idea of what takes place.
There are a few postpartum facts you may not know, however, and some tips about the next 6 weeks postpartum (or so) you probably haven’t thought about. That’s what I’m going to share with you.
1: Legit Contractions After Birth (from the Afterbirth)
Once you push baby out the relief is instantaneous. You can feel an immediate difference. Baby is out, the pressure is off!
Then comes the afterbirth, accompanied by a full-on contraction.
You can feel a contraction coming on, and then your body just naturally pushes the placenta right out. This isn’t nearly as intense as actually giving birth, but it will get your attention.
Because you’ve just given birth to a little human, you’ll be a bit tender, which means you can expect to grimace a bit as the placenta makes its exit.
It’s much easier than pushing out baby, and you’re already so emotional and over the moon as you meet your little that you’ll quickly move on. It is nice to know beforehand so you know exactly what to expect.
2: Contractions While Breastfeeding After Birth
That’s not the end of contractions. It would be so nice if it were, but your uterus has to contract to heal and begin shrinking down to its original size.
What you may not know is that breastfeeding your baby triggers those contractions.
But it doesn’t feel amazing. It feels like contractions. And they’re painful.
If you’re not ready it can be a shock and a major disappointment. Here you thought you were done with all that pain and hard work, and now you’re feeling more contractions?
This is why you need to be aware. It can be pretty uncomfortable, and being taken by surprise while you and Baby bond during breastfeeding is a rude interruption.
Note: The contractions can be more intense with your second baby than with your first. I experienced this with my second son. It helped to know what to expect so I was emotionally prepared.
Now, on down to the trick to help you out with these contractions!
How I adore the nurse that shared this trick with me when my second son was born!
If only I’d known this with my first! This tip was an amazing help!
Remember those contractions I said you’d experience while breastfeeding after birth? Well, there’s something you can do about it.
If you scan over everything else in this post, READ THIS TIP!
About 2 minutes before you nurse, massage your uterus for a few minutes. It’s a little tender but the benefits are worth it!
Massaging your uterus before nursing will make the contractions feel less like labor and more like menstrual cramps.
It works! And I owe that nurse a present for that invaluable tip!
Another super helpful after birth tips is coming up! Stay tuned!
3: Postpartum Belly After Birth
You may already be aware of this, but if you aren’t it can be quite a surprise to see.
Expect to still look 5-6 months pregnant after giving birth.
It’s disappointing, I know. But your body has done a lot of shifting around to make room for Baby, and your uterus has grown quite a bit. It doesn’t all go away immediately after giving birth.
It can take anywhere from weeks to months for your tummy to go back down.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself time to heal.
Here is another life-saving tip!
Make sure your pajamas and what you pack to wear home from the hospital is sized to fit at 5-6 months pregnant.
Another surprising after birth fact is in the next section. Don’t go away! (Seriously!)
4: Postpartum Restrictions
If you have a c-section, you’ll have a lot more restrictions and it’s non-negotiable.
But for those of you who have a vaginal delivery, the bounce-back time will feel much shorter. Key word here: feel. The healing is faster and after getting that baby out you’ll feel so much relief almost immediately.
You still need to be very careful.
Yes, you feel relief and the pressure is gone. But that doesn’t mean you can go home and return to business as usual. Your body still needs time to heal.
Some may feel a little more sore than others, and that’s a good reminder to lay low and get plenty of rest.
For those of you who feel almost completely normal a couple of days later: beware!
You have to take it easy! Your body has done a lot of shifting around to accommodate baby. Not only that, but even though you feel fine you are still healing from giving birth. And there is quite a bit of healing to do!
You are still restricted to light duty. I was shocked when my nurse told me I couldn’t pick up my oldest son for 6 weeks! What!? How was I supposed to manage that?
She suggested kneeling down to hug and comfort him, and was very firm about not lifting him up. That excessive lifting can delay the healing process after birth.
I haven’t been perfect about that, but I’ve certainly done my best.
As mamas, we don’t think about it. If our tot is crying or hurt and we feel able, we’ll scoop them up and cuddle them close. No question. According to my postpartum nurse, that isn’t the wisest choice.
Use your discretion. Maybe let your tot climb up next to you and snuggle while you put your feet up.
2021 Update: I wish I’d listened more carefully to that nurse’s advice. More frequently than I should have I overdid it and delayed my healing. In fact, my tummy just stopped being sore about 4 months ago–and my baby is almost 14 months old!
5: You’ll Need A Helper After Birth
If this is your first baby, a helper is nice to have. If this is your second baby or more, a helper is a necessity.
Since you’re restricted to light duty, you’ll need someone around to help you manage your other babies.
You’ll also need a helper to do some of the heavy duty cleaning. Things like lifting a full laundry basket, scrubbing the tub, mopping and vacuuming are not a good idea while you’re healing.
Even if you feel up to it, all of your healthcare professionals are going to tell you not to. You need to give yourself time to recuperate.
2021 Update: Just don’t do it. For several weeks. Take my firsthand advice. Listen to the postpartum nurses.
Aside from that, you’re going to be exhausted. Your baby will need to eat every 3-4 hours (if not more frequently).
Trying to manage it all alone with a newborn and other kiddos around can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Have someone you trust be around to watch your other children and help with chores. It will make your postpartum journey much, much more manageable.
6: Meal Prep
When you get home from the hospital, the last thing you’re going to want to do is have to figure out how the family is going to eat.
Everyone still has to eat. It’s not like laundry, where it can be put off for a couple days.
This is probably one of the most important things to prep before you go into labor.
I didn’t do it, and I wish I had. I ended up with a severe infection postpartum and simply didn’t have the strength to cook three squares for the family.
Had it not been for my mom and other family members who graciously brought/cooked food, it would have been a nightmare.
You may feel well enough to cook, or you may not, but it’s not a good idea to risk it.
The cool thing is that most dads get paternity leave these days and can help out. Even still, it’s a good idea to have a plan.
Here are some ways you can plan to feed your family after birth:
- Dad can cook
- Stock your freezer with healthy frozen meals
- If you feel up to it, cook several meals in advance and freeze them
- Set aside a Grubhub (or Door Dash or whatever) fund and save to have hot food delivered
- Call in all those bestie favors and see if your closest person can schedule a food train for you
- Ask your trusted family members to help cook meals at times
- A combo of all of the above
7: Meal Prep for The Kiddos
If your kids are older then you’ll probably be fine prepping dishes for the whole family.
But if you have a toddler who likes to eat what they eat, you’ll need to think about that before you go into labor.
Once you’re home and healing up, you won’t want to have to stress about rummaging up some food for your little.
Have a plan for what they’ll eat those first few days after birth so that whoever is helping you can prepare it for your tot. Stock up on the needed grocery items and tot favorites in advance.
This might seem a bit strange, but you mommies of tots know how picky they can be and just how creative you have to get sometimes. It’s stressful during normal times, let alone when you’ve just come home after giving birth.
Have a plan in place.
8: Newborn Station for Easy Diaper Changes with Baby
I’ve mentioned this before in my other posts about baby’s first week home. It’s super important and will save your sanity.
Have a caddy in your room, near your bed and baby’s bassinet, stocked with baby necessities. When it’s 3:00 in the morning you’re not going to want to be running around the house trying to track down what you need.
Trust me–baby will wait to have their massive poop blowout until you’re the most exhausted. Then they’ll explode through their diaper and wreak havoc on their pajamas.
Stock your baby caddy with:
- Burp cloths
- Extra baby pajamas
- A muslin swaddle or two
- Diaper cream
Pro-Tip: Put a small, cloth storage bin in the caddy for baby’s dirty clothes. Save yourself all those trips to the laundry and just fill up the bin and then take the bin to the laundry when it’s full. (Thanks, Mom for that amazing tip!)
9: Nursing-Friendly Pajamas
Remember that you’ll be on light duty? That means you probably won’t be doing laundry for a little bit.
The last thing you want to run out of is pajamas!
Just take my word for it. You’ll want plenty of pajamas to get you through the first couple weeks. After showering and freshening up, you’ll want to put on a set of fresh pajamas.
You’ll appreciate soft, comfy pajamas that are nursing friendly while you recuperate and rest up.
10: An Extra Newborn Station
I didn’t learn this one until Baby #2, and I wish I’d known it all along.
Having that newborn caddy in your room is crucial. But it’s also nice to have another, smaller one set somewhere in a common area of your home, too.
You won’t want to be purely confined to your room during your postpartum healing.
Have a small, cloth caddy for diaper changes (include fresh newborn jammies, too!) set up somewhere in your living room, family room, or wherever you like to spend time. You won’t want to drag the one from your room all over the house.
You can set extra diapers, wipes, a burp cloth and swaddle, and other newborn essentials you need to feed baby in the smaller caddy.
Then you can relax and have what you need on hand.
11: Have Your Postpartum Kit Ready
If you’re pregnant you’ve probably already researched this. It’s one of the most important things you can do to minimize your stress. Don’t wait until you’re back home and already needing supplies to set everything up.
Have these things on hand:
- Postpartum pads
- Postpartum spray/oils
- Pain meds as prescribed by your OB
- Lots of water!
- Postpartum underwear
- Nursing friendly pajamas
- Breast pump and haaka
- Nursing balm/shield
Happy healing and bonding, mommy!