By Jaimie Ramsey, Contributing Writer
Childbirth is a stressful event! Of course it’s joyful and exciting and full of blessings, too, but it brings countless changes to your life and family, it’s physically very hard on your body, and especially for the first-time mom there is so much to learn and get used to. The first few weeks after my son was born were very stressful for me, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you. I plan to prepare much more thoroughly the next time I get pregnant so I won’t have to deal with so much stress again. Keep reading to learn 9 ways to reduce your post-birth stress, so you can relax and enjoy your new little one!
9 Ways to Reduce Your Post-Birth Stress
Stock Up On Freezer Meals
Set aside a few days to freezer-cook and stock up at least two weeks’ worth of ready-made meals. If friends or family bring you food as well, great! Your meals will last longer. But it would have been so much less stressful for me if I knew I had at least two whole weeks before I had to do much cooking again. And don’t just do suppers, but pre-make breakfast items and snacks as well.
Get a Breast Pump Ahead of Time
Pull out your breast pump and familiarize yourself with it a month or so before your due date. I got a breast pump just in case, but I didn’t think I’d really need it. Two days postpartum I was engorged so badly that pumping was the only way to relieve it–and I hadn’t opened the box once! Even if you’ve used a pump before, get yours out and make sure it’s clean and doesn’t need any replacement parts so that you can use it at a moment’s notice.
Stock Up On Nursing Supplies
Have plenty of nursing supplies handy, even if you don’t think you’ll use them all. I had two nursing tanks when my baby was born, and I could have used half a dozen. Make sure you have plenty of breast pads, nursing bras, and nipple cream.
Keep the Pantry Stocked
Stock up on pantry items and things like toilet paper, tissue, paper plates and napkins, etc. You won’t feel like doing dishes for a while, and the less trips to the store your husband (or mom or neighbor) need to make, the better. Have plenty of necessities on hand so you don’t have to think about that for a while.
Stay Home and Rest
Don’t plan on going to any major events–or really, anywhere at all–for the first couple weeks after your baby is born. I insisted on having our son’s baptism the first Sunday after he was born, and he was only five days old. I had virtually no energy, I was hormonal and overwhelmed, and I was completely exhausted by the end of the day. You can reduce your post-birth stress by keeping your expectations of yourself very low, and giving yourself time to rest. You’ll be healing, getting the hang of nursing, very sleep-deprived, and learning how to take care of a newborn–no need to push yourself or be social for a while.
Outsource Household Duties
Get someone to help you around the house for at least a few days, preferably a week or longer. My mom stayed with us for about four days and although it was wonderful, and we were really glad to just be the three of us when she left, we could have used help with things like laundry, meal preparation, and cleaning for a lot longer. My husband was amazing and my mother-in-law helped out with laundry, but I felt pressure (self-induced, mostly) to get back to my usual routine pretty quickly, and I didn’t rest as much as I should have. A month is an ideal length of time to “hibernate” after your baby is born, if you can manage that.
Keep Plenty of Diapers and Wipes on Hand
Stock up on diapers and wipes well before your due date. This is one thing I actually did do and it was so helpful. I had several months’ worth of diapers, in three sizes, and we didn’t even have to think about getting more until my son was about three months old. It was so great to not have to think about getting more diapers, and I never ran out.
Stock Up On Baby’s Wardrobe
Have plenty of basic clothing items (sleepers, onesies, etc.) in a variety of sizes before your baby is born. You can guess about how big your baby will be, but it’s hard to tell. My son was a little over eight pounds when he was born, and he grew out of newborn sizes quickly.
Pad Your Savings Account
This might be obvious, but it helps so much to not have to worry about finances right after your baby is born, especially if you’re quitting work or taking maternity leave. Plus it will enable your husband to take some time off without worrying about money. Babies can be expensive, even if you don’t have any major medical complications, and you’ll have medical bills no matter where or how you give birth. Saving up for that ahead of time will make life much less stressful.
These are just a few of the ways you can reduce your post-birth stress, helping those first few weeks with a new baby be less stressful and more joyful and relaxing. Plan ahead, stock up on supplies, and do whatever you need to in order to make sure you have plenty of time to rest and heal. Then, after the excitement and hard work of labor and birth, you can enjoy those new-baby snuggles worry-free!
What’s one way you worked to reduce your post-birth stress?