Then & Now – How I’m Taking Care Of Myself Postpartum

It’s hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago I was writing a post about the anxiousness that goes along with playing the waiting game, waiting on labor to start that is.  And now, I have a 3 week old baby boy!  My third time around, and this has truly been the best postpartum experience I’ve had so far, and I couldn’t feel more thankful and grateful for a smooth transition thus far.  While some may say it’s been all luck, I would like to think I’ve had some part in helping me and my family achieve as peaceful and restful postpartum experience as possible.  Here’s what I’m doing differently this time around.

Mommy and HaydenThen: I never took that age-old advice of “sleep when baby sleeps” to heart.  I always said, at the next nap I’ll get some rest, let me just get one more thing done right now.

Now: I take every opportunity I can to rest, even if it just means a 15 minute cat nap on the couch.  I preferably am trying to nap as soon as baby does first thing in the morning, often sacrificing my first chance at a shower even.  But I’ve noticed that if I get a nap in straight away, the rest of the day is that much more enjoyable and productive.  I get a shower in there somewhere, but right now rest is priority #1 before showers!

Then: I accepted and even invited visitors over as much as possible.  I had minor cases of postpartum depression with both previous pregnancies, and so I thought the more people I had surrounding me, the happier I’d be.  Often though it would lead to me feeling exhausted at the end of the day after feeling the need to entertain.

Now: I am accepting visitors more slowly over the course of just a couple of days a week over several weeks, and being honest when I’m feeling tired.  I’ve told friends even that they can stop by, but I’ll plan to take a shower while they’re here and they can hold baby, which is who they really want to see anyhow ;)

Then: I introduced the bottle at 4-6 weeks, which was met with many challenges by my breast fed baby.


Now: On the advice of my pediatrician, we went ahead and started a bottle of pumped breast milk once a day at just over a week old, after we were sure breast feeding had been well established.  He took it like a champ, and still continues to breastfeed just fine.  What this means is that my night-owl husband can take the midnight feeding, allowing me to get a good 5-6 hours of sleep at a time.  He usually wakes up again at 3 or 4 am, so I pump before I go to bed, and as long as I’m in bed by 10pm, I get a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep each night.

Then: I took any and all offers of help that I received.

Now: I’m being a bit more selective.  While this sounds terribly picky, what it means is that I maintain a certain level of peace and control in my house.  I have all of my relatives, on both sides of the family, within very close proximity of us.  Before I accepted all forms of help postpartum, so often times there was always someone in the house putting away dishes and/or laundry in all sorts of hidden places ;)  While it was helpful, it was also often frustrating to feel like I had a constant stream of helpers not on the same page as me in my home.  Now I’m being honest and straightforward, making sure to graciously accept the help, but detailing in a clear way what duties they could perform that would actually be the most helpful.

Then: I worked on a strict schedule and attempted sleep training at just a couple of weeks old.

Now: I’m trying to be more relaxed with the whole schedule thing and so far it’s paying off.  Hayden has naturally adapted to eating every 3 hours during the day, with a couple of closer feeds towards the end of the day, and is waking every 4-5 hours at night, with the occasional poopy diaper or need to burp wake in the middle of the night as well.  Instead of worrying about putting Hayden down when he’s awake so he “learns to fall asleep on his own”, I’ve been getting lots of cuddle time in and if he needs to be held, he needs to be held.  Most of the time though he still goes down to sleep in his bassinet just fine.  I’m not being anti-routine, I’m just being more relaxed about it and what happens that day happens, and I believe this relaxed attitude is transferring to him, making him more relaxed.

All in all, I feel more rested and more at peace, even with a newborn and 2 school age children at home.  I love the things I’ve done the same from baby to baby, but love even more the things I’ve learned and adapted with each progressive pregnancy and baby.  It’s like I’m getting better and better at this mom stuff!  How did your postpartum experiences change from baby to baby?  I’d love to hear!

Read more of Andrea’s writing at her life and family blog Four Flights of Fancy and her style blog For The Love Of
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