How to Thrive After Having a Baby

Five postpartum tips from a midwife.

By Lauren Zielinski, MSN, CNM
such a cozy nursery

Baby’s on the way….and it’s a big deal! Your sweet new babe coming earthside signals a shift into an entirely new way of life. You’re definitely still you… but things are about to change.

As time ticks and you enter the third trimester you’re probably knee deep in sorting baby shower gifts, designing a nursery and thinking about your upcoming birth. But have you thought about preparing for after baby comes?

Setting yourself up for success now is a great way to make the transition a bit smoother. You can’t predict how everything will go with your birth, your baby, breastfeeding etc., but keep setting up some semblance of predictability in the things you can control will make a world of difference in those wild first few weeks.

Here are my favorite mama-chosen, checked, and proven tips and tricks for after baby. We’ll talk breastfeeding, self care, pain control, meals and more. Take notes, and consider prepping now. You won’t regret it!

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Ice, Ice Baby: Make yourself a “padsicle” stash

Pushing out a baby – as you very well may know – can cause some vaginal soreness, swelling and for first time mamas especially there are often stitches involved. Eep! I know it sounds scary to think of a tear down there but do know it’s totally normal and you and your body are going to get through it just fine!

Avoiding discomfort and keeping pain under control here is key and the best way to get some ooo-ahhh relief is by icing down your underside….and not just any old ice pack do.

Introducing the padsicle: think a pad and an ice pack mixed together, exactly what you need post baby! You don’t need to spring for these – you can totally make them yourself easily at home. To create your own padsicles follow these instructions. 

  • Buy long heavy overnight pads (yes the big ones)
  • Fill a 2 cup measuring cup with:
    • 1 cup water
    • ½ cup aloe vera gel
    • ½ cup witch hazel 
    • 5 drops of lavender essential oil 
  • Pour the water mixture across a few pads at a time soaking them with the cooling mixture 
  • Wrap each individual pad in tin foil, folding the edges around the pad (the pad should be open and long as you wrap)w
  • Repeat for as many pads as you would like (10-20 is more than enough)
  • Freeze! 
  • When it’s time to apply to your bottom – run the pads wrapped in tin foil under hot water for 10-15 seconds to “defrost” and make it easier to unfold and apply to your bottom. 

Out of time? If you want to skip the DIY situation, I like this brand of pre-made padsicles by Frida Mom, you wont get all the yummy soothing ingredients but they will cool the booty!

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Nursing Nourishment Station

This is one of my favorites! For mamas who plan to breastfeed this tip is all about preparing yourself for some self care and nourishment while you’re providing care and nourishment for your little one. Ask any mother who has breastfed, as soon as you sit down to nurse you realize every single thing you need is just out of arm’s reach. Avoid that situation altogether and prep for breastfeeding sessions by picking a few places around your home – perhaps one in your living room and one in your bedroom, and set up a success station. It’s a good idea to prep this in the weeks before birth. How to? Next to each of your designated breastfeeding “spots” in your home you have chosen, place a basket full of water bottles, snacks, a powered up phone charger, a good book or magazines, nipple cream, and any other breast-cessories you may want together. This way every time you feed you have the ability to take care of yourself, right at your fingertips without getting up. Viola, your partner will thank you in advance for not yelling their name across the house every 5 minutes.

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Meal Prep Party

In the days and weeks after your baby comes it can definitely feel like survival mode. Sleeping when you can, feeding the baby every few hours and changing lots and lots of diapers, all smushed in-between congratulatory calls/visits will have you busy mama. You totally got this – but honestly the last thing you will want or need to worry about is cooking for yourself. While you may be gifted or brought food from friends for a bit, you will definitely want your own stash. Prepping 4 or 5  casserole style meals, curries, pastas or other easy to freeze items for after baby will have future you thanking 39-week pregnant you for weeks! 

Pro tip: If you don’t want to eat that king ranch casserole for 5 days in a row, consider portioning out your meals into individual sized meal containers so you can mix it up from day to day. 

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Snag the right apps

As you get into the rhythm of your new little person’s body and needs it can be helpful to track everything that happens to be sure babe is thriving. It may sound weird, but in the first few weeks these details matter to your docs and midwives. Tracking pee’s and poop’s will tell you that feeding is going well. While tracking which side you breastfed on last or how much formula the baby took helps you remember what to do next and gives you good data to help your pediatrician be sure your baby is thriving. This will 100% save you from spending time in your doctors office going ummm…. welll??? what did happen last night honey?? Trust me – you likely won’t remember. My favorite app to recommend is called “baby tracker”, which you can download hereThis smart app helps remind, remember and track things for you when you may not know what day it is. Take the help sister!

relaxing bubble bath

Secure Support

Last, but absolutely not least. Schedule yourself some self care for after the baby comes, now. Yes now! You may not know what it will look like or exactly what you will need – but discuss, voice and make it known that you will be asking for help and time away for your own mental health and line up those willing participants. It doesn’t have to be crazy or extravagant – perhaps it looks like a trip to get your nails done, an exercise class, a walk in the park? Pick something that will healthfully feed your soul and bring you home happy and refreshed.

It’s okay to take a few selfish hours to yourself. Don’t feel guilty for a moment, this very important time alone helps you fill your own cup so you can be the best mama possible to your little one.

Hopefully your partner can man the ship while you sneak away and you can do the same for them (yes they need this too), however if that’s not the case, make other arrangements. Self care and carving out time to still be you is key – honor the work you’ve done to get baby earth side and soak it in mama, you deserve it!