Ah, the fourth trimester. This time after giving birth is usually something parents put little thought into until they are in it. But what does “preparing for postpartum” mean exactly? We asked Tinyhood expert Ashley Sousa, a labor and delivery nurse and the instructor that leads our childbirth classes, just what expecting parents should do to prepare for postpartum.
Aside from having a new little life to take care of, the fourth trimester is a time of healing, new experiences, and a lot of changes to your body and mind. Here are a few ways Ashley suggests preparing for postpartum:
Know what to expect physically and mentally. The first thing expecting parents can do to prepare for postpartum is educate themselves. A good childbirth class will help explain what to expect postpartum, but overall, depending on what type of delivery you have, your recovery time and experience with vary.
Mentally, the postpartum period can be tough. Between new responsibilities, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes, it’s important you check in with how you’re feeling emotionally. If you feel something is off, talk to your healthcare provider, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Pack your hospital bag. The good news is the hospital will provide you with everything you truly need. But there are certain things you can bring to make yourself more comfortable once the baby arrives. Our expert also recommends a long phone charger, flip flops, toiletries you would bring on a short trip, a nursing tank or bra, water bottle, items for your partner, and clothes for you and baby, as well as burp cloths.
Set up postpartum stations at home. Prepare postpartum baskets in your bathroom(s) with various products you’ve purchased to help aid in recovery such as pads, underwear, a peri-bottle, cooling pads, etc.
Set up a diaper-changing baskets/stations around your home. In those early days, you won't want to go far to change your little one’s diapers. Have a station set up in your bedroom for nighttime changes and one or two around your house or where you will mostly be spending time, so everything you need is within reach.
Make a breastfeeding cart. If you plan to breastfeed, make sure to clean and familiarize yourself with all the parts to your pump. Organize them on a cart with everything you need, breast pads, something to entertain you, water, and snacks!
If you plan to bottle feed, make sure to clean all the pieces and familiarize yourself with that as well. The last you’ll want to do when your baby is hungry and crying is read directions.
Do some nesting. There’s a good chance your body will instinctively give you the urge to do this anyway, but before giving birth, you’ll want to put together any baby products that need assembly (swings, bassinet, changing table) that you’ll need when baby comes home. You won’t want to assemble them while you’re healing. Plus, don’t forget to install and prepare your car seat since you’ll have to bring that to the hospital with you!
Overall, preparing for postpartum is all about eliminating the unknown (as much as possible) and making things easier for yourself when you return home. To learn more about how to prepare for postpartum, labor, and delivery, different pain management techniques, and tips for caring for your newborn, check out our childbirth classes now.