By Alexa Joy Sherman
When preparing for the arrival of a baby, it’s natural to think about every way you’ll care for your newborn—from feeding and diapering to bathing and parenting. Without question, there’s a lot to plan. But along the way, you may lose sight of an important detail: yourself.
“Often parents focus on caring for the baby, but forget to think about what they’ll need for themselves after the birth,” notes Glade B. Curtis, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN in Salt Lake City and co-author of Your Pregnancy Quick Guide: Postpartum Wellness (Da Capo Press, 2005). Of course, taking care of yourself as well as an infant may sound impossible. But if you don’t tend to your physical and emotional health—particularly during the six-week postpartum period—addressing your baby’s needs will be even more challenging. Believe it or not, it can be done. It just comes down to planning, communicating, and asking for assistance when you need it.
Maternity Ward Wellness
If you’re delivering at a hospital, most facilities will have essential supplies on hand, but you might want to pack a few things from home to help you recuperate—whether it’s a favorite CD, robe, or brand of maxi pads. “I packed comfort items,” says Brynja Kohler Wind, 35, mom to 7-month-old Sophia in Logan, Utah. “It was nice to have music, and I brought ‘nature sounds’ CDs that were very relaxing.”
Meanwhile, make sure any clothes you bring are big enough (generally whatever fit when you were about six months pregnant); unfortunately, you won’t return to pre-pregnancy size by the time you reach the recovery room or the car ride home. Another important consideration: Think about how many visitors you want dropping by. “It can be a real invasion when people want to see and hold the baby and be a part of everything you’ve just gone through, and that can take a toll on new parents,” says Curtis.
So make a phone list, don’t allow too many people to visit at once, and consider leaving a “do not disturb” sign on the door when needed. Most important, lean on the hospital staff as you heal from giving birth and learn to care for your baby. “Explore medications, sitz baths, sprays, or other pain relievers, and find out which ones work before you go home and you’re on your own,” says Curtis.