Basic Postpartum Survival Guide

Welcoming a new baby in your life is an exciting time! Although it is also a time of significant transition as you adjust to life with baby. Here are some basic tips to help you through the early postpartum days.

Prepare food in advance
After the birth of my first, I was completely unprepared at how hungry I would be from breastfeeding. He was born right after Halloween which meant there were leftover bags of candy all over the house. I’m pretty sure I ate more candy that first week of his life than I had in the past several years. It was quick and easy to grab a handful of candy; plus it provided an instant burst of energy.Although it sounds like I am advocating a postpartum candy diet, I assure you I am not. What I learned from that experience was the importance of preparing healthy snacks and meals in advance so they are readily available when hunger strikes.

One easy way to have ready-to-eat postpartum meals is to freeze several during the final weeks of your pregnancy. You can double up on recipes, serving one for dinner and freezing the other for later. When I was pregnant with my second child, I spent the final weeks of my pregnancy stocking my freezer. It was wonderful after baby was born to open the freezer and have an array of healthy choices.

Rest whenever possible
I am sure you have heard by now the importance of “sleeping when baby sleeps” and it’s because new mommies need plenty of rest. Your body needs to heal and restore from birth. Your body is using extra energy to produce milk for your baby. And chances are your little one is waking up every 2-3 hours around the clock to nurse. It’s no wonder moms are so tired! Be sure to rest when the opportunity arises. When you have older children and a newborn, it’s a lot more difficult to sleep when baby sleeps. In that case hiring a postpartum doula or mother’s helper might be something you consider to allow yourself the opportunity to rest during the day.

Daddy napping with baby


Accept help when offered
Often the arrival of a new baby means lots of visitors who are excited to meet the new family member. It might feel joyous to share this excitement with others; however it can be exhausting if you are playing the role of hostess to your visitors. As woman we are accustom to nurturing others, but as a mom of a newborn allow yourself to be nurtured. Often visitors will ask “do you need anything?” Don’t be shy to reply with a “yes” and a specific task like loading the dishwasher, changing loads of laundry, or making a snack for your older children. It can be hard to ask for or accept help from others when you are used to functioning independently.

With my firstborn I struggled with even identifying my needs let alone conveying them to others. Sometimes well intending loved ones would offer to hold baby so I could have a break or get some things done. After a few times of taking their suggestion and passing over baby, I quickly realized that I didn’t need or want a break from holding him. Rather I wanted company and help around the house while I relaxed and held/nursed my baby. Most visitors genuinely want to be helpful so it’s okay to openly express what would you need or want from them.

Seek Professional Support if Needed
There are so many emotions during the early postpartum days and significant hormonal changes occurring. Coupled with sleep deprivation it’s not surprising many women cry easily and often during this time. While a certain amount of weepiness is within the realm of typical postpartum emotions, there are times it extends beyond what a woman can manage herself. If you at all have concerns about your emotional state, please don’t hesitate to seek professional support. Contacting your maternal health care provider (OB, midwife, etc) is usually a good starting point to access resources.

What helped you survive the early postpartum days? What tips or suggestions would you give to a new mom?

New parents often wonder will I ever sleep again?!? Check out tomorrow’s post about night-time parenting for more information about adjustment to infant sleep patterns.


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4 Responses to “Basic Postpartum Survival Guide”

  1. Megan says:

    I have a friend who made me a postpartum care package. It included witch hazel, maxi pads, Epsom bath salts, and disposable underwear (yes Depends) for when I came home from the hospital. It was the best shower gift that I got! No one warned me of the care that I would have to be taking of myself, only of my baby. Having all of this stuff on hand already made life much easier!

    • Sarah says:

      What a perfect gift for a new mama! I will remember that for my next pregnant friend. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  2. My baby shower “gift” to my best friend was to deliver healthy snacks (pre washed/cut fruit, Clif Z bars, smoothies, etc.) weekly for the first month after the baby was born. My son was born 15 months ago, and people were so generous at providing meals, but many times (especially in the middle of the night) I just needed something I could eat with one hand. She has loved it and I’m definitely planning to give the same gift again to new moms who I’m close to!

    • Sarah says:

      Great idea!! I completely agree that easy to grab, healthy snacks are so helpful to have around the house. I think I will borrow your idea and include some snacks next time I bring a post partum meal to a mommy friend. Thanks for sharing! 🙂