How to survive the first week postpartum
How to survive the first week postpartum
An OB GYN shares her top tips to help you make it through those first few days at home with baby.
*Guest post from Flynn Millard O’Neill, RN, FNP, Bloom OB/GYN
I had my son this past March and having taught women how to have babies in private practice for eight years, you would think I would have been a pro at this recovery thing. But I was surprised how physically and emotionally demanding the first few days home with a newborn was to us as new parents.
I delivered vaginally at 39 weeks and had a healthy baby boy without complications. Most insurance companies cover two nights stay for a vaginal delivery and four nights for a cesarean delivery. We delivered at Sibley Memorial Hospital and were sent home two nights after my son arrived.
As we were being discharged home from the hospital, you are bombarded with nurses, doctors, lactation staff all involved in checking your family out of the hospital. Once we got Charlie dressed and we were wheeled out to our car, you have the task of getting the car seat to work properly.
I recommend to all my patients to get your car seat inspected as almost three quarters of new parents install their car seat incorrectly. Fire stations, and private companies like Cherry Blossom Babies can offer parents the support of a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians to ensure proper installation. As a reminder you may need an infant insert if they are under four pounds, our Maxi Cosi carrier came with this so remember to pack it just in case you deliver a little baby.
Once we got finally got home, you then stand there looking at each other wondering what to do next with your newborn. For the immediate recovery from a vaginal birth, you need maxi pads, decent thickness, ibuprofen, a stool softener and sustenance. Commonly the hospital will provide ice packs, which I strongly recommend using for 24 hours after a vaginal delivery and longer if sore from a vaginal tear or episiotomy. Our hospital provided me with a sitz bath to use for recovery, which is a plastic tub that fits over your toilet to bathe your bottom. To warm water I added some healing herbs from Earth Mama Angel Baby. They sell these big tea bags that are full of soothing herbs like oatmeal, sea salt, calendula and witch hazel.
After you unpack, take some ibuprofen and get some ice or herbs on your bottom, you realize you are starving. New mothers are ravenous as your breast milk begins to come in around day three to five postpartum. Mothers will have to keep their bellies full while starting to make milk and also to help you not feel sick from taking your postpartum medications. Water is the next thing you will need, at least two to three litres daily or one ounce for every pound that you weigh. This will help blood pressure, your kidneys, your milk supply and help reduce swelling. These are just the basics for the first few days home, after this adjustment you will start to move around more and your hormones will level out. Most women see their providers at six weeks postpartum to get clearance to exercise and resume normal activity. I found the first week was truly the most important for rest, sitz bathing, learning to use the car seat and taking life slowly. This new pace is an adjustment, but once you have a baby in your life you do not get to move around as fast as you once did so this first week is a helpful reminder of this amazing transition.
Flynn Millard O’Neill is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner who has been practicing in the Washington D.C. area for nearly a decade. She practices medicine at Bloom OB GYN in Northwest DC. She co-founded Stork Childbirth Education Inc., a childbirth education company in Washington, DC. While obtaining her graduate degree from Georgetown University, she worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital helping to deliver the newest additions to many D.C. families. In her spare time she teaches yoga and is a consultant for Glucose Mama, a gestational diabetes app currently in development. Flynn lives in Washington D.C. with her son Charlie and husband Andrew.