A family’s approach to their lives in the first few weeks post-birth is as unique an experience as a birth plan or an individual birth itself. Some people like to carry on full steam ahead, mere moments after their little one joins their family, while others prefer to take a little time, often within the comfort of their home to regroup, re-calibrate and dip their toes into the water of their new lives post baby (whether it’s baby one or baby three). No matter what your decision is, or how it evolves as your family grows, or even if you change your mind a dozen times in the first few weeks, this is your time to get to bond with your little one.
Some people choose to practice the tradition of confinement, more commonly seen in India or China, where for about 40 days the new family spends time at home, only going out for doctor’s appointments. This is seen as a way to protect both a new mom and her baby from illness and infection, and allow for recovery from birth and adjustment to life post baby.
No matter what your path is to life after birth, there is certain to be a period of time where you’re probably a little more home bound than you will be in three or six months. Many parents experience the urge of nesting in their last trimester of pregnancy, where they get everything ready for baby. But what about getting things ready for mom?
Behold the ultimate 15 item grocery list to promote rest, recovery and enjoyment in your first few weeks post-baby!
15 Head of Cabbage (green or white)
As your milk comes in during the first few days after birth your breasts can get very hot, swollen and tender. Consider some cabbage, yes seriously, to help cool things down. By securing fresh, clean cabbage leaves (that you’ve chilled in the fridge) onto your breasts you can draw out some of the fluid. The leaf should fit perfectly over most sized breasts and will provide some relief because of the time spent in the fridge. When the leaves feel damp or wet, change them (usually every couple of hours).
14 Epsom salts
Epsom salts added to your bath can be a nice way to provide yourself with a little pampering post baby all the while promoting healing. Benefits of using Epsom salts include: improved circulation, flushing toxins (particularly important post-birth), relief of stress, reduced inflammation to relieve pain and decrease muscle cramps, and improving absorption of nutrients. These are all good things for you and to improve your ability to take care of your petite. In addition to other notable benefits Epsom salts added to a bath will help heal hemorrhoids and stitches (either from an episiotomy or tearing). If you have had a caesarian section be sure to consult with your doctor before bathing/ getting your stitches wet.
13 A Shower Cap or Dry Shampoo
If you’re a blow-out loving perfect hair loving kind of gal, parenthood may have you sporting a jaunty ponytail more than you’re accustomed to. Since new parents often have many guests coming to meet the baby you’ll probably want to make the most out of your hair when you’ve had the chance to properly style it. By utilizing some dry shampoo and/or a shower cap you’ll be able stretch the time a little longer between styling. Dry shampoo is also a great option for people recovering from a C section who have temporary restrictions on bathing post-surgery.
12 Baby Wipes that aren’t for baby
If you’ve been nesting, even just a little bit, you probably have plenty of wipes for baby. Here’s a little secret, baby wipes are great for new moms too. No time for a shower? No problem, have a quick wipe down courtesy of a couple of wipes. These can also be used as makeup removers, stain removers and more. Likely, they will become both a purse and baby bag essential for the next two to three years of your life. Flushable wipes (make sure you check the label before you clog your toilet) are a fantastic option for “down there care”.
11 Food you can eat with one hand
Your hands are going to be full, and as awesome as all of those lovely casseroles are that helpful friends, family and neighbours will make for you, healthy and convenient to eat food (that you can eat with one hand) is going to be your best friend. It will help keep you fuelled, particularly late at night or early in the morning.
You’ll want to focus on easily enjoyed items that are packed full of nutrients, and that won’t taste bad cool or cold. Stocking your freezer with healthy frozen food like pizzas, burritos, and kabobs can put dinner on the table and in one hand while you rock, feed or cuddle your newborn. Pre-cut veggies or fruit served with high protein dips like nut butters and hummus make for convenient snacks with some protein. Other high nutrition items that can be made or purchased ahead of time are power punching protein bars, protein balls and lactation cookies (that are said to help increase lactation in many new moms).
10 Fresh and frozen fruit
A lot of expecting parents are on a specific vitamin regimen to help them during their pregnancy. After baby arrives your body will have different needs, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. Consider talking to your healthcare practitioner before bambino arrives about what new vitamins you’ll need to speed your recovery and adjustment into parenthood.
Baby making and baby rearing is thirsty work. Some people find that using straws for consuming water is an easy way to get their recommended water intake faster, without feeling like all they’re doing is guzzling down H20. Proper hydration will help energize you, even on days when you aren’t clocking a lot of hours actually sleeping. Bored of regular water? Get some lemons or limes to squeeze in, to add a little flavor punch! For those of us who are taking water on the go, have multiple children, or are a little accident prone themselves, consider purchasing an insulated cup with a straw to help keep your water cool, and from spilling all over your nightstand during that 4AM feed.
Tea is a wonderful thing. When you have unexpected guests it’s the perfect beverage to offer! It can help calm an upset stomach, or an anxious new parent who’s having trouble getting baby to latch on. By keeping a variety of caffeinated options (for guests, or a little relief after a long, long night up with junior) and herbal or decaffeinated varieties you can all enjoy a cup of warm comfort.
6 Adult Diapers or SUPER Absorbent maxi pads
Photo credit – Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com
As someone who has relied on tampons since I was a teenager the thought of living with big bulky pads horrified me. For the first few days in particular post birth the bigger the pad the better, yeah maybe it feels like you’re walking with a mattress between your legs, but it’s better than the alternative. Invest in some good quality super-duper absorbent maxi pads, along with some thinner ones for the weeks to come.
5 Stain Remover
Accidents happen, whether it’s spit up, poop, or a leaking maxi pad. By purchasing a decent stain removal spray, you can spend a little less time soaking and scrubbing your laundry, or purchasing replacement items that have unsightly stains.
4 Pain relievers
After birth contractions (as your uterus works to get back to its pre-birth size) can hurt a lot, as can recovering from natural birth or a C section. Some doctors will prescribe specific medication to help you with the pain, while others simply recommend over the counter solutions like Motrin or Advil. If in doubt, ask your doctor before you hit checkout on your online order.
One of the many awesome things about having a baby is that people will bring you food, and it’s going to taste amazing because you don’t have to prepare it yourself. Stock up on a variety of zip lock bags and plastic containers so you can properly wrap up, refrigerate or even freeze some items to enjoy tomorrow, next week, or even next month when you’ve run out of groceries and the welcome wagon has moved on. Bonus points to those who also get a marker so they can label the food they’re storing.
2 Magazines or other light reading material
Photo credit – Niloo / Shutterstock.com
Often the first few weeks at home with a little one is a frantic combination of extremely difficult and painfully boring. My attention span, or the time I got to myself came in five to twenty minute bursts. Some light reading material helped keep me feel connected to the outside world. Pulp magazines also gave me something to talk to guests about, beyond the world of baby.
Personally the junkier the tabloid or magazine the better! This is also a fantastic gift idea for visiting a new parent; I mean who doesn’t want to dish over who wore it better or loving to hate the Kardashians!
1 Crossword Puzzles or Word Jumble
Some days when a crossword puzzle seemed like too much work, a word jumble or some scratch lottery did the trick to keep me entertained and could easily be set down when baby needs to be fed, burped, changed, or cuddled.