Growing a baby inside your belly for nine months is bound to leave a few marks, some more noticeable than others. And the fourth trimester, which covers the first few months postpartum, will have you experiencing more changes as well. To take it all in stride, we recommend for new moms to follow these tips:
Caring for Sore or Cracked Nipples
Some babies are born pros at breastfeeding, whereas there’s more of a learning curve for others. If you experience soreness during nursing sessions, or if your nipples are cracked or bleeding, talk to a lactation consultant who can advise you on breastfeeding positions and remedies to alleviate your pain and make nursing a more enjoyable experience for both you and your little one.
Wearing a comfortable nursing bra with wide straps can help relieve back and neck pain associated with nursing. Pick one with drop-down cups for easier access, in a breathable fabric that also stretches to accommodate your fluctuating bust size. Line the inside of the cups with eco-friendly nursing pads to soothe chafing, keep your nipples drier between feedings, and prevent milk from leaking onto your clothes.
Accommodating the Changes in Your Body
Stretch marks, damage to the pelvic floor, diastasis recti, as well as a larger bust size are just a few of the most common changes happening in the course of a pregnancy and beyond. That, combined with your hormones shifting, can make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. So make sure you have a wardrobe designed to make you look and feel good while your body recovers from and adjusts to all those changes. If you’re breastfeeding, invest in a few maternity tops that give you easy access to your breasts so you can discreetly feed your baby. And don’t try to get right back into your pre-pregnancy jeans; instead, opt for comfy leggings, yoga pants or sweats with an elastic waistband.
Feeding Yourself and Your Baby Well
Eating a nutritious diet after giving birth will help you keep your energy levels up even when you’re sleep-deprived. It will also help prevent, or at least diminish, mood swings associated with fluctuating hormones. And if you’re breastfeeding, all this nutritional goodness will benefit your little one as well. So take time to meal-prep before your baby makes his or her grand entrance, and stock up your fridge and pantry with healthy options for snacks and quick meals. Consume plenty of fluids while you’re nursing, but avoid or limit caffeinated or sugary drinks and, of course, alcohol.
Taking Time Off for Self-Care
Before your due date, talk to your bosses or customers and arrange for time off where you won’t have to stress about anything work-related. If you own your own business, this could mean hiring a virtual assistant, having a partner or employee step up and cover your duties for a while, or temporarily not accepting any new clients. Caring for a newborn is a 24/7 job, so try to not add to your plate and aim for a few work-free weeks after your delivery. You’ll need this time for your body to recover, to get some much-needed sleep, and to bond with your little one.
Prepare for the postpartum weeks by having all the necessary supplies on hand and carving time out from work so you can bond with your baby. And if you’re diagnosed with postpartum depression, nurture and take care of yourself by eating healthy foods, and don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist. Those first few months go by fast, so you want to enjoy every moment!