Postpartum Recovery: 7 Lessons Learned After 4 Babies
The postpartum advice you wish someone had told you before you had your baby. Lessons learned from a mother of 4 and the recommendations she has for a smoother postpartum recovery.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I have gone through postpartum recovery 4 times. I still can’t believe it has been that many times, and occasionally the whole postpartum experience is a big blur to me. I think all moms feel like postpartum recovery is a blur. It involves grueling hours of cries and dirty diapers, and the sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is all out of whack. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can even function with that amount of sleep. But us new moms are fierce and don’t let anything get in our way from taking care of our babies!
But now that I’m out of that phase, the postpartum recovery phase, I have taken time to reflect on how I handled things as a new mom and as a mom of 4. I know that I did some crazy things that I still to this day can’t believe I did. And then there were some things that I did that I am so incredibly proud of myself for doing.
I wanted to share with you the lessons I learned during postpartum recovery so that you will not make the same mistakes I did and have a better experience with your newborn and with yourself!
image above represents my sister-in-law’s results with the belly bandit
1. Have A Postpartum Belly Wrap Before Delivery Day
Don’t go into your 39th week of pregnancy trying to figure out what postpartum belly wrap you are going to buy.
It just so happened to dawn on me during my last few days of pregnancy that my sister-in-law had a postpartum belly wrap for her postpartum recovery. I felt like I ran out of time to get one so I asked her at the last minute if I could borrow it.
In the end I was able to get it and wear it soon enough to get great results from it. But it was a scramble for time.
And then I returned it back to her and forgot to get another one for my second pregnancy. She had gotten rid of it long before, and I ended up not getting one until much later, too late in my opinion for optimal results.
It took twice as long to get my stomach to flatten with my second baby just because I had started later with the postpartum belly wrap (my weight gain was nearly exactly the same between both pregnancies so it was a good comparison).
I highly recommend getting a postpartum belly wrap early on during your 3rd trimester so that you have it ready to go and you can start wearing it 2 days after childbirth. Read more about postpartum belly wraps and how long you should wear them for optimal results.
2. Be Sure To Wear The Right Type of Pants
Don’t wear fleece pants to bed, period. I wore fleece pants after having my first baby and that was a big mistake.
She was born in December and living in PA, it’s quite cold. My bedroom does not have good insulation, and I threw on my fleece pants every night I went to bed. But boy was it hard to actually get out of bed.
I felt like I was glued to the sheets. Speaking of sheets, I had the fleece sheets on my bed as well, so put the two together and it is total friction.
I literally did not have the strength to overcome the friction and it took me a long time to get out of bed. It was exhausting, it was dreadful and it was something that I knew I would never do again with my other pregnancies.
So, what did I do with my 2nd baby? I wore nylon yoga pants. Slippery as can be! It was a game changer for my postpartum recovery.
3. Load Up On Dense Pillows With Adequate Support
Ditch the MyPillow (but only for this short season, because I do love MyPillow). Pillows are key to success with breastfeeding. If you decide to breastfeed your baby like I did, you need to examine your pillow situation.
I had a MyPillow, and it was glorious. I got the best sleep, and I still get the best sleep, with it. But, during postpartum recovery, you want to pitch aside (just temporarily) your normal pillow and get yourself something with “body” to it.
Firm is key to feeling comfortable when breastfeeding. When sitting up in bed, holding your baby to breastfeed, you definitely want good back support that is comfortable for you to lean up against for 30, maybe even 40 minutes.
Also, while you are at it, be sure to get a Boppy Nursing Pillow to support your arms. I couldn’t live without one as a new mom.
4. Make An Easy and Direct Route From Master Bed To Bassinet
Don’t overthink the placement of your newborn’s bassinet. I still to this day can’t believe that I did this for the entire duration of my first borns’ stay in the bassinet (practically 3 months).
I had placed the bassinet at the most odd angle beside my bed. So odd that I felt trapped and had the hardest time getting out of the bed to go to the bathroom or to even pick up my baby every night she woke up.
Why did I angle the bassinet this way you might be thinking? Well, I did it so that the baby monitor that was placed on my end table could see inside at just the right angle.
Well, that was a big mistake. I had to recruit way more muscles every time I had to climb out of bed in order to scoot around and put my feet on the floor.
Rather than just rolling out of bed in 2 seconds like any ordinary person, it probably took me a good 15-20 seconds to get out of bed. That’s waayyy too long in my opinion, especially postpartum.
Don’t overthink the placement of the bassinet in the room, but I do recommend that you put some thought into it and make sure that it’s placed in the most convenient location that reduces the difficulty of getting there in the middle of the night.
5. Let The House Get Messy
Don’t worry about your house, but instead take a nap!
It is so common for new moms who are used to the homemaking lifestyle to want to jump right back into it after childbirth. They think it’s their duty as the wife to do the dishes while the husband is at work. I know I did.
But what I had found out very early on was that I was a better wife, a better homemaker and a better mom when I took the time to nap rather than clean.
Don’t you worry about the chores, ask for help. You will think that this is the best decision you have ever made during postpartum recovery, to take a daily nap at least once a day until you feel like your body is fully recovered and your baby is sleeping through the night.
6. Be In Tune With Your Body
Don’t ignore the changes that are taking place in your body but instead be in tune with your body.
I had a small tear with my first baby that I thought was rather minor and easy to manage. However, time went by and things started to not feel right.
I didn’t know what to expect with the healing process, how long it would take, what it would look like and what it would feel like. I think I was naive to think that my body would heal well on it’s own.
But as time went on, and the pain continued and other symptoms started to come on, I knew I let it go too far.
I had monitored it for way too long and didn’t act on it quickly enough. I had to face the dilemma of going on medication that would be unsafe to take while breastfeeding (which was something I was unwilling to stop no matter what). I was told I would have to pump and dump. If only I had called the doctor sooner when I first saw the signs.
If you see a change in your body that just doesn’t seem normal, all you need to do is call your gynecologist’s office, ask to speak with the nurse and they’ll talk you through it.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Call A Medical Professional
Don’t be afraid to make the call. So if you know something isn’t right, whether your feminine odor is not what it used to be, your incision looks a bit funky, your noticing signs of depression, or your breasts are starting to feel hard and painful, don’t be afraid to call.
Just make the call and ask a medical professional about what’s going on with your body.
I was developing mastitis a couple weeks after having my first baby, and I just didn’t know what to do. I thought that I could manage it on my own.
Little did I know that I was missing the key solution to the problem. I had a thousand things running around in my head, taking care of a baby and all, so of course I wouldn’t think to just pump out the breast milk. Duh!
But the simple call to the lactation specialists allowed me to talk through the issue with them, and I was healed almost instantly!
So what did I learn from my 4 postpartum recovery experiences?
Get your postpartum belly wrap long before your due date, wear spandex type pants, ditch the MyPillow and go for something firm, location location location is what it’s all about with bassinet placement but don’t over think it, sleep amongst the dirty dishes and piles of laundry, don’t ignore what is going on with your body and make the call long before you think you should.
I really hope this has been an eye opener for you. Don’t feel bad if some things like this happen to you during your postpartum recovery. Anything can happen, and you might not know how to handle it at the time. But looking back you’ll learn that you tried your best, and you will learn from your mistakes so that you can be better the next time around.
When it came to my 4th baby, I felt like a pro. I knew exactly what to wear, where the bassinet should go so I could easily get to my baby in the night without hurting myself, I called the doctor multiple times early on after childbirth with even the slightest concern I had with my body, I had my postpartum belly wrap in my hospital bag ready to go just in case and my bed was loaded with every extra firm pillow I found in my house.
Ultimately, I’m telling you all this so you can avoid the hassles that I went through and so you can have a quicker and more comfortable postpartum recovery.
Oh, and something else that is so important for postpartum recovery is being able to restore your core muscles the correct way with this exercise.
What are some lessons you learned already during your postpartum recovery?
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
**It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.