I have a confession: I didn’t even know what postpartum was until about five weeks before Jimmie was born. Of course, I had heard about postpartum depression (and feared it,) but I didn’t know what else to expect after I had a baby. As soon as I realized that postpartum was, a six week (ish) period after having a baby, I tried to figure out how to survive it. Here’s what worked for me:
1. Shop for new clothes before the baby arrives: Before I had Jimmie, I went shopping. Yes, I know they say not to buy clothes for your “in-between” period, but I decided spending a few extra dollars to feel comfortable after having a baby was worth it. I bought new PJ’s, I bought a few pairs of shorts, and I bought some tank tops that were one size bigger than I would normally wear. These clothing items made me feel better right after having a baby. I didn’t have to wake up and wear maternity clothes anymore, and I also didn’t have to try to squeeze into my old clothes.
2. Shower every day: I know you always hear about new moms (and dads) who are so busy that they can’t find time to shower. You have to figure it out, and make time, because showering makes you feel 100% better, at least it did for me. After your shower put on REAL clothes; not your PJ’s, not sweatpants, REAL clothes. Trust me, you’ll feel like a real person.
3. Go outside every day: Even though having a baby keeps you trapped inside for the first few weeks, you have to get some Vitamin D. Take a (short) walk, stand on your steps, or just sit on your deck/patio. Getting some sun for a few minutes every day is key to staying upbeat and positive.
4. Make a goody bag every morning: If you have two (or more) floors in your home, you will have to avoid using the stairs for at least a week postpartum (listen to this!) I only went up and down the stairs once or twice a day, for a little over a week, after I had Jimmie. In the morning, I would grab everything I needed from upstairs and threw it in a bag. This bag included my stuff and Jimmie’s stuff. I also put a toothbrush and hairbrush in our downstairs bathroom so that I always had one on both floors. At night, I brought all of my stuff upstairs again. I know it sounds weird, but it helped me stay on one floor all day (or night). By the end of the first week, my bag consisted of less stuff because I was able to go up and down the stairs more.
What was in my bag:
Change of clothes for me
Multiple outfits for Jimmie
Breast feeding supplies (nipple shield, nipple cream, nursing pads)
5. Use the sits bath: After you have a baby, they give you this weird tub to go in your toilet. Use it. I didn’t for the first few days, and I wish I did. It helps, I swear. Just go to the bathroom before you use it and don’t fill it up too much or you will get water all over the floor!
6. Don’t try to keep the house spotless: I tried to be super woman and I regret it. I should have just sat down and held Jimmie, but instead I tried to clean everything up, all day long. I hate clutter, but I realized I should have just let it go, live and learn. Now, if there is a pillow on the floor, I leave it. I know this sounds extreme, but I am extremely crazy when it comes to random crap lying around.
7. Rest: I’m not going to say sleep when the baby sleeps, because that’s crap. It’s almost impossible to sleep when your baby sleeps, but at the very least, you can sit, read a book, or just close your eyes.
8. Go to the store: If it’s warmer, take your baby out. They’ll most likely sleep through the whole trip and you can just walk around enjoying being outside of your house. It will also help your baby become familiar with outside noises.
9. Eat healthy/drink water: After you have a baby, you want the weight to go away. By eating healthy and drinking TONS of water, you will be able to lose that extra baby weight as fast as possible.
10. Ask for help: If you need help, ask for it. Even at the hospital, I asked the nurse to take Jimmie into the nursery, once, in between feedings. As much as I just wanted to hold and cuddle him all the time, I also knew I needed at least an hour (or two) of sleep and a good shower. (Even if your spouse holds the baby while you sleep, you can still hear them crying and you will want to help rather than sleep.) You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby. That was one of the best choices I made, while at the hospital, and I felt so much better when they brought Jimmie back to me.
Bonus tip: Bring your Boppy to the hospital to sit on. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
And of course, enjoy every single minute with your new baby. I had a hard time adjusting to breastfeeding and I was going down a slippery slope into postpartum depression. I was crying a lot and Jimmie wanted to eat all the time. Instead of ignoring this, I stopped breastfeeding because I knew (mother’s intuition) it was making Jimmie fussy and me miserable. After I stopped, I was happier than ever, and so was Jimmie; he was a different baby two days after I stopped. Even though it was a really hard choice to make, I knew it was the best choice for Jimmie and me. If you feel very sad, all day, every day, talk to your doctor. The sooner you do, the better; postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of.