Four kids into this motherhood gig means I’ve made it through four postpartum seasons. Obviously, the postpartum time after my first child was my hardest, as I was recovering from birth, functioning on little sleep and trying to figure out how to take care of a newborn. With each subsequent baby, postpartum recovery has been easier and I’ve had the confidence to know that a) babies are resilient, b) I will sleep again one day and c) there are a few things I can do during postpartum recovery to make me feel human.
I’m here to share my 8 tips for thriving postpartum. None of these are baby tips, because each baby eats and sleeps differently—and much of that is out of your control when they are a newborn. Instead, my tips focus on what you have the power to do for yourself so that you can truly enjoy those early days with a newborn.
8 Tips for Thriving Postpartum
1. Shower Every Day
There are tons of mom memes about never having time to shower, but it’s really not as hard as you think. You don’t have to shower first thing in the morning; you can shower when your baby naps or when your spouse gets home from work or after your kids go to bed. During my postpartum periods, getting a shower at some point each day made me feel alive and human during a time when sleep was limited. Not only did I feel fresh, but I also felt refreshed. Hot showers postpartum were about more than getting clean; they were about snapping me out of my sleepy haze and empowering me to juggling mom life with a newborn.
2. Optimize the Natural Light in Your Home
Those first few weeks postpartum, you’ll be stuck indoors much of the time as you rest and recovery. You may also be stuck inside because it’s too hot or cold for a newborn outside, depending on the season. But you can make the best of this time by optimizing the natural light in your home.
Open curtains and blinds and remove anything obstructing natural light from spilling into your home. Natural light boosts your body’s Vitamin D, which is great for your immune system, your brain as well as your emotional state. Natural light can also contribute to you feeling happier, healthier, calmer and more productive.
3. Take Time to Rest
Everyone will tell you to nap when the baby naps. And while that’s great advice, I’m admittedly a terrible napper. But resting doesn’t have to include naps. Other ways to rest postpartum (especially if you have other kids) is to utilize baby’s naps for reading, watching a show, meditating, journaling, etc. Rest time is as important for your mind as it is your body. Spending time resting postpartum helps to refuel and reenergize you so that you can be the best possible mom for your baby/kids.
4. Eat Often
After birth, all women are ready to get back to their pre-baby size. But those first few weeks postpartum are not the time to change up your diet or restrict calories. Breastfeeding moms need about 500 more calories than normal, and even if you aren’t nursing, you need to make sure you’re eating quality foods often to help your body recover from delivery.
5. Drink Water Constantly
Drinking tons of water postpartum helps to replace fluids after delivery, keep up your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding, ease constipation, combat headaches and avoid dehydration. Keep in mind that by the time you’re physically craving water, your body is already depleted of fluid. So try to stay on top of hydration by keeping a large water cup full in the nursery and main living area of your home.
6. Get Fresh Air
Depending on the season in which you gave birth, it’s not always easy to take your newborn outside with you when you’re craving some fresh air. Spring and fall are ideal seasons to be outside with a baby because of temperate weather. Summer heat may cause you to stay inside with your baby most of the day, but consider getting outside first thing in the morning when it’s cooler or at night when the sun begins to set. In the winter, see if a spouse or family member will watch your baby for even 30 minutes so you can get outside. No matter the temperature, fresh air will leave you feeling bright-eyed and energized, despite the limited amount of sleep you may be getting at night.
7. Connect with Other Adults
Interacting with other adults during the first couple months postpartum takes concerted effort, especially if most of your friends are in the working world, making them unavailable during weekdays. If you don’t have many friends or family with flexible schedules, reach out to your local moms groups or other community groups. Chances are they hold weekdays meetups with like-minded people and would welcome you with open arms. It helps to know someone else going through a similar stage in life. You can rejoice together about getting a decent night’s sleep or rant about the woes of babies cutting new teeth.
8. Do Some Inspirational Reading
Since you are thinking about all things baby day in and day out, it’s a good idea to try some adult reading material that stimulates your mind and provides inspiration. I recommend some uplifting faith books and devotionals or self-help books. Consider Uninvited, Girl, Wash Your Face, Embraced, A Simplified Life, Present Over Perfect, 100 Days to Brave or Everybody Always.
What are your tips for thriving postpartum?