Shop my organic diapers HERE
Shop my organic witch hazel spray HERE
Shop my favorite peri bottle HERE
Learn more about affirmative thinking HERE
Hear my 10 breastfeeding affirmations HERE
Try Calendly for free HERE
Get your free printable checklist HERE
Whenever I see women on social media preparing for postpartum, they’re either sharing what meals they’re freezing or what supplies they purchased for healing. And those are both great things! But after my first baby, I learned there was so much more to preparing for postpartum than that.
In fact, I bet some of the things I’m sharing today are things you’ve never thought about before. Or maybe you didn’t realize you cared about it until you were in the thick of it. Either way, I know today’s episode is going to be helpful.
I’ve divided my tips into 5 categories: physical, mental, emotional, baby things, and support system. Spoiler alert: the advice in the support system section is straight GOLD and a little out-of-the-box, so be sure to listen to the very end for some life-changing advice there!
And, in case you’re listening to today’s episode on-the-go or you don’t want to take notes, I’ve included a FREE printable checklist with all the info from today’s episode in the shownotes that will help you organize your postpartum prep!
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen the many recipes I’ve been testing and photographing for my new cookbook. This cookbook is specifically for postpartum nutrition in those first two months after giving birth and it follows a meal plan format but with some flexibility.
One of the most important elements of postpartum healing is how you nourish yourself and most women don’t know how to do that properly or have never been told how poor nutrition in the fourth trimester affects their long-term healing. I won’t get into all the nitty gritty today, but what I will tell you now is that I am being extremely intentional and stringent with my diet for the first 8 weeks postpartum.
The prep that I’m doing now includes getting freezer meals ready, getting snacks scattered throughout the house, and making a list of grab-and-go foods that will be coming with me to the hospital (both for during labor and afterwards).
As for supplies, I’m keeping things much more simple this time around. Instead of the whole disposable underwear+3 inch pad+witch hazel pads+who knows what else, I’m just using organic diapers with organic witch hazel spray. Sounds expensive, I know, but it’s actually way cheaper. Instead of buying 5 or 6 things in giant packs of 20 or something, I’m just buying two things and restocking as needed. This means less layers, fewer things to sit on, and less time in the bathroom.
I’ll link the diapers and witch hazel that I’m using in the shownotes so you can check them out, but I’ll quick explain why I chose organic. Cotton is one of the 5 main crops that are sprayed with glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, so buying organic cotton diapers/pads/tampons means there’s no extra chemicals or pesticides going near my lady parts. Since switching to organic, not only have my lady parts felt so much better, but my hormones are less out-of-control, which is always a plus.
I also wanted to make sure that no alcohols were going near my lady parts because alcohol kills ALL bacteria, both good and bad, and disrupts the vaginal microbiome. Just like you have a gut and oral microbiome, you have a vaginal microbiome too, and it needs good bacteria to be healthy. With the organic witch hazel I bought, there’s no alcohols, fragrances, or extra chemicals - just the witch hazel, herbs, and essential oils.
I chose a witch hazel spray instead of the pad liners/circles because I remember always being uncomfortable. They never stayed in place, they usually got folded inside my lady parts anyway, and it was a balancing act just to pull up my underwear and pants to keep them in place. Too much work. So instead I’ll be spraying the good stuff both on myself and the diaper and just calling it good.
The last thing I actually kept from last time and highly recommend to every mom is an upside down peri bottle. This helps clean you up after using the bathroom without having to wipe down there, but you’re not trying to bend your arm and wrist in some weird way between your legs to get the right angle. I’ll link the one I love in the shownotes so you can get it too!
Now, to prepare my body postpartum, I’m dialing down my workouts now, especially with weight training, so my body isn’t sore when I do go into labor, whenever that is. I’m still keeping my schedule of lifting 2-3 times a week and walking the other days, but I’m not pushing myself as much.
I’ve also doubled my stretching time and my physical therapy time and regularly use my birthing ball to sit and relax throughout the day.
Lastly, I’m really focusing on relaxing my pelvic floor and staying in touch with my breathing so I’m not only prepared for birth, but ready to start my recovery routine week 1.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for years, so this category is especially important to me. To be honest, even though I’ve had a baby and gone through postpartum recovery before, I feel like I’ve forgotten everything and it’s stressing me out!
Do I have all the supplies I need? Do I remember how to breastfeed? Am I prepared for the lack of sleep? All those things. It just overwhelms me. And sometimes the idea of holding my baby girl isn’t quite enough to take away this anxiety.
So, what I’m doing is typing out some affirmations in my phone that I can repeat to myself at the hospital and when I come home. I’m not gonna lie, I used to think affirmations were stupid and super cheesy, but I’ve learned that you believe what you tell yourself, so if you tell yourself something positive, it’s going to help change your reality. I promise it works!
These affirmations can be anything you like and there’s no one right way to write them. Think about what worries you most and write affirmations about that. Now, the important thing is that you write the affirmations in a positive way, meaning instead of saying what you’re not or saying what you won’t do, say WHO you are and WHAT you are capable of.
Quick sidenote: if you want some breastfeeding affirmations, I actually did a Tiktok about this and I’ll link it in the shownotes so you can go listen to it there!
I’m also practicing some techniques to calm the nervous system like breathing, tapping, and humming. I actually don’t know the technical term for the tapping, but I saw it on Tiktok and tried it once and it actually helped! Sit with your back upright and cross your hands over your chest, making sure your right hand is underneath and over your heart. Then, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and tap each hand twice, back and forth. Tap-tap, tap-tap, and repeat.
For the breathing, I do box breathing. This is where you inhale for 4, hold for 4, and exhale for 8. When you inhale, think about breathing into your tummy, lower back, and rib cage all at the same time. Your shoulders should NOT rise. Inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips.
Now the humming is actually really cool. Humming stimulates the vagus nerve, a huge nerve that connects your brain, heart, and digestive system. It’s one of the most important parts of your parasympathetic nervous system, or your “rest and digest” state. Stimulating the vagus nerve lowers your heart rate and blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels, which allows more oxygen to flow throughout your body. This whole effect helps calm your mind and body.
The breathing, tapping, and humming are all tools in my toolbelt to help me when I feel mentally overwhelmed or overstimulated. I didn’t have any of these tools last time and I already feel so much more confident going into postpartum this time.
I’m sure you’re aware that you’re going to experience a lot of emotions during postpartum. What I do NOT want you to do is blame it on your hormones and assume there’s nothing you can do about it. You are going to experience a wide array of emotions because postpartum is HARD. Period. And you’ve been through a lot already just to get to postpartum. THAT’S why. Not because you’re out of control and something is wrong with you and you’re a slave to whatever comes your way.
(I do want to quickly mention that if you follow my nutrition and lifestyle tips as best you can, you can in fact minimize the effect your changing hormones are going to have on you during this time.)
All that to say: here are three things I’m doing to prepare emotionally for the next 6 months.
I feel like I’m always having to do this, but it’s so true. The grind-to-the-ground overachiever in me has these aspirations of doing so many things and I always have to sit myself down and say “what can I actually do with the time I have and without compromising my priorities?”
And just to make sure we’re on the same page, you have to know what your priorities are before you can adjust your expectations. So for me, this looks like getting rest when I can, nourishing my body, and being present with my kids. Those are my priorities. Then, I can make goals and boundaries with work, friends, and my house haha (because we know the house is a real thing) that won’t stretch me too thin.
I’m actually planning on doing an entire episode about my specific method of journaling, but for the sake of today’s conversation, I’ll give you a little sneak peak. I’ve got a specific journal that I keep on hand that’s really helped me work through mom guilt, anxiety, and everything in between, and I’m going to have that packed in my hospital bag and out on my nightstand when I get home.
When I tell you this very intentional way of journaling literally saved my mental health, I mean it. The funny part is that I’m TERRIBLE at journaling (just ask anyone in my family) but this method that I developed actually works and I’m consistent with it. So this will be a huge part of my postpartum recovery.
I also have a journal that I bought that’s specifically for postpartum recovery that I’ll use when I need it. It was written by licensed psychologists and therapists and has very specific prompts and entry sections in it. I didn’t use it a ton last time (and maybe I should have) but it’s nice to have as a backup. I’ll link that postpartum journal in the shownotes if you want to check it out.
Unfortunately, Tyler is getting deployed just a few weeks after baby girl is born, so I’ll be navigating the first 6 months postpartum by myself. Normally I come to Tyler for everything, but because of the time difference and his work schedule, I won’t get to talk to him whenever I’m struggling. This means I need to have at least one person that can be my on-call person for when I need emotional support.
If your spouse or partner is around, I 100% recommend having them be your person. If not, you could confide in your mom, a best friend, or even a neighbor. No matter who it is, you are going to need at least one person that you trust with any and all feelings that come your way while you navigate postpartum. I also recommend that if you choose someone who isn’t your partner, you straight up ask them to be your person so they know how they can show up for you and what you need from them.
Another thing to communicate with this person is what you need from them each time you confide in them. I know this is hard because it requires you to be honest, vulnerable, and upfront, but it’s so worth it, I promise.
This means you’re very clear about whether you need just a listening ear or a problem solver or a combination of both. Why does this matter? Well, if you just need to vent but the person you’re talking to thinks you need a solution, they’re going to listen with the intent of responding quickly and trying to work through your feelings. If that’s not what you need, you can imagine how frustrating that would be, right? Please mama, don’t let the fear of communication create more problems than you already will have. Just be willing to say what you need.
And quick side note: if you are the emotional support for someone else, please reciprocate this narrative and ask your friend, “do you need me to listen or look for answers?” or something like “what do you need from me right now?” I can’t stress this enough. It’s so important that we take a step back and be willing to be whoever our friend needs us to be.
Besides getting the car seat installed, the bassinet assembled, and the clothes washed, the main things I’m trying to remember to do for baby girl are getting diaper stuff spread out throughout the house, especially in my room, repacking the diaper bag, and making sure her journal is up-to-date and accessible.
“Wait, did you say journal?” Yup. Baby girl has her own journal and I’ve been writing in it since I got pregnant with her! I’ve been using the Promptly Journals childhood history journal for Hyrum and absolutely love it, so I got another one for baby girl. They have sections in the front for handprints/footprints at the hospital, each trimester of pregnancy, birth, each month for the first year of life, and then each year up until they’re 18 years old. Each section comes with prompts for you to answer so you’re not trying to think of what to write down, and there’s also pages of blank lines to write on and empty space for pictures. I’ll link the journal in the shownotes so you can get one for each of your kids because they are amazing and they make my job as a mom so much easier!
If you don’t have any other kids while listening to this episode, you don’t have to really pay attention here, but I wanted to quickly talk about some things we’ve been doing to get Hyrum ready for having a sibling.
Since Hyrum is only two, I feel like there’s not much we can do to really prepare him for getting a sibling, but we have done some things that I think are going to help.
First, we have been calling baby girl by her name the entire time. Since he doesn’t really understand familial relationships yet (other than mom and dad) but he does know what a baby is and he knows people have names, we’ve been calling baby by her name instead of “baby sister.” This has helped him start to bond with her during my pregnancy. He loves coming up and “saying hi” (rubbing my tummy) and telling her to stop kicking me when he sees me flinch in pain haha.
We also involved him in all the prep like setting up the bassinet, washing her clothes, getting her lovey ready, and buying her diapers. So now whenever he comes in our room and sees the bassinet, Hyrum says “this is baby’s bead” (using her name of course).
Another thing we decided to do was take him shopping for a birthday present for baby girl that he can give to her when he meets her for the first time. We actually haven’t done this yet, as of this recording, but we’re just going to take him to Target or Walmart and let him choose something he can give to her.
Going along with that, we’re also going to surprise him with a gift from baby girl so he feels like she’s excited to meet him and hopefully reduce some jealously a little bit. We’re going to bring the gift with us to the hospital all wrapped up with a card from baby girl and tell him she brought him a present. I’ll have to let you know how it goes!
Lastly, we’ve been doing little things like coloring pictures for baby girl or making crafts for baby girl and keeping them where Hyrum can see them so whenever he walks by he gets excited and says “baby’s picture!” or “baby’s bracelet!”
Ok, I guess one more thing: I’m also just mentally preparing for him to be jealous and need some extra love and attention. There’s no way around it, especially because he’s the oldest, so I’m just coaching myself through being extra patient with him as he learns to share mommy AND have daddy gone at the same time. It’s going to be a big transition for our family, but we’ll make it through.
If your mom or mother-in-law is coming to help or you have a doula/caretaker staying with you for those first few weeks postpartum, I highly recommend creating a couple different lists to offload the mental load in advance. This is especially helpful if you have other kids at home already or your husband won’t be around very much.
Here are some ideas of lists you can create:
My mom is coming to stay with Hyrum while we’re at the hospital, so she’ll be with him 24/7 for a few days without [much] on-call support from us. I’m writing out a simplified version of Hyrum’s daily schedule like when he wakes up, when he takes his nap, rules about snacks, and his bedtime routine.
I might also include suggestions for building his meals, how we clean up his toys, where refills for diapers and wipes are, how to get to the park, or some of our walking routes. This isn’t to micromanage, but it’s more so my mom feels comfortable being his primary caretaker and Hyrum still feels like there’s some normality in his day.
Basically like a chore chart for other people. It’s a list of things you feel comfortable delegating to trusted family members and friends that will keep the house clean and organized while you recover.
Now, this might sound silly, but think about it this way: how many times do people ask “is there anything I can do for you?” and you think of a bunch of things around the house that you really wish you didn’t have to do but you don’t want to admit it OR you can’t think of anything until after they leave? This solves both of those problems.
Here’s what I did: I created a really basic “chore chart” of sorts in Canva with a column for the chore and a column to mark done. Then, whenever people ask, I can say, “thank you for asking! You’re welcome to check my responsibility chart on the fridge and choose anything you’d like to do.” That way I don’t have to say something specific and they have options to choose from based on their preferences or time table.
Some examples of responsibilities might be:
Again, the beauty of this is that you can choose what goes on this list AND your support system can choose what they want to do. It’s a win win for everyone! You get help and your friends get to help in a way they feel comfortable with.
I’m sure there’s lots of different apps/websites out there that can help you do this, but the idea is that you’re setting clear boundaries of when people can come visit you and baby but you don’t have to constantly be checking your schedule or text threads.
Instead, you create a place where people can go and sign up for a time slot to come see you. You know that the days/times are already good days/times for you and whoever wants to come can just choose one that matches their schedule. You can also set up time slots if you want to make sure people aren’t overstaying their welcome or you don’t feel overwhelmed trying to get all these people into your house.
Maybe this only applies for the first few weeks, but imagine how simple it would be to get a text from your friend or auntie that says “hey congrats on having your baby! When can we come by to meet them and see you?” and all you have to do is send them one link and say “here’s our schedule! Feel free to choose a day and time that works for you. We’re excited to see you!” Now you don’t have to have that awkward conversation of “well we aren’t taking visitors for two weeks” or whatever else might come up with visitors.
As to how to do this, you could do a shared google calendar or use the free version of an app like Calendly. I use Calendly to schedule my podcast interviews and it’s super easy! I’ll include my link for Calendly in the shownotes so you can check it out if you want to try it for yourself.
If your church is anything like mine, they’re super on top of service and volunteer opportunities, especially when it comes to helping new moms. The default in this case is a meal train of sorts, so I’m going to communicate with the leaders about when I’m ready for help, how often, and the dietary restrictions I have.
For example, I won’t need help the first 4 weeks or so because I’ll have a bunch of family in town, but once they’re gone, Tyler will also be gone, so I will very much need help then. Normally meals are organized for the first two weeks or so, but I’m requesting the help later.
And, for the grand finale, your spouse or partner. This is the section I want to stress the most because I’ve seen and heard so many couples have a much harder postpartum period experience than they should simply because they did not prepare and communicate with each other ahead of time.
Mama, I’m going to be real serious with you for a second. You need to remember that your partner is experiencing postpartum too. Obviously they’re not the one who endured pregnancy, gave birth, or has to breastfeed, but they are right there in the thick of it with you. Because of this, it is SO important - actually, it’s CRUCIAL - that you DO NOT MINIMIZE their feelings. It should not and is not a competition of who is more tired, more in pain, more stressed, blah blah blah. You can BOTH be tired, in pain, and stressed, just in your own way. When you approach your relationship with connection rather than competition, you will instantly resolve more than half the problems that are about to come your way.
Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about some real things you can talk about to prepare for postpartum.
First, what do you need? I speak from personal experience when I say that the men feel helpless and pathetic watching us go through so much and they just don’t know how to help. So find ways that they CAN help you, no matter how small. In our case, Tyler was in charge of making sure I was always hydrated and fed, and my bathroom supplies were always stocked. The mental load of remembering when/what to eat, filling up my water, and stocking the bathroom really was a huge burden off my shoulders and he felt very capable and empowered that he had specific things that he was in charge of. Find little things like that that will help you and communicate them!
Next, what baby responsibilities are you sharing? Maybe since you’re going to be up breastfeeding all night, your partner is the one that does all the nighttime diaper changes. Or, maybe you decide that there should only be one tired parent, so you take on all the nighttime stuff, but that means they’re in charge of diaper changes during the day. I’ve seen people do it both ways and it’s really whatever works for you as a couple. We personally decided to only have one tired parent, so I took on all the nighttime stuff, and that meant Tyler was more physically and emotionally stable during the day when I needed a break.
Next, what household things are you stepping away from? You can 100% say “I don’t want anything to do with laundry for the first 4 weeks” and let them know that that is one major way they can share the postpartum burden with you. Or maybe they’re in charge of meal planning and ordering the groceries but you’re still cooking. Or maybe they’re just in charge of the kitchen altogether.
Now, I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention this one specific thing (ladies this one is extra important): you need to set boundaries and expectations around intimacy postpartum. This is going to be 100% unique conversation for each couple, but it’s really important that you communicate anything around this topic upfront. Maybe you’re pretty sure you don’t want to jump right back in at 6 weeks; communicate that! Maybe you’re a little on the fence about the 6 week mark and it just depends on your birth and your healing; communicate that! This is a really sensitive topic for everyone, but it’s wayyyyy better to talk about it ahead of time, I promise.
Something I want to remind you of is that just like you have needs, your partner has needs too and it’s important to be sensitive to those when having this conversation and communicating your needs. You need to be just as sensitive to them as you hope they will be for you. Does this mean you have to do something you’re not comfortable with? No! It’s just important that just like every other conversation you’ve had, it’s not a competition, it’s not just about you, and you approach it as a team. How can you both get what you need?
(I’ll also remind you that there are ways to fulfill his needs without involving your healing lady parts and there are lots of ways to be intimate, so it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Try and find ways to meet them where you’re at within the limitations you have.)
All this to say: you should be sitting down with your partner and clearly communicating what you do/don’t need, what you do/don’t want, and any concerns you have upfront so you can come up with a game plan ahead of time. This way when things come up, you’re not resentful towards each other and you’re not upset that they’re not doing xyz even though they don’t know that you want them to do xyz. Does that make sense?
Ok, my last piece of advice for postpartum with your spouse or partner: make a rule now that anything said between 10pm and 6am doesn’t count. You’re both going to be exhausted. You’re both going to be stressed. You’re both going to have low patience, no matter how hard you try. Just agree that if you get short with each other or say something mean or whatever that if it’s during those hours, you won’t hold it against each other and you won’t take offense. It’s just better this way, I promise. Sleep deprivation does wonders on your tolerance levels and your relationship shouldn’t get mixed into that.