Take Care of Yourself: The First 72 Hours at Home with Baby
The first 72 hours at home with a baby is a wild ride. There you are, back at home with a new family member that needs you 24/7 (and for the rest of their life) and little idea of what to do next. The good news is that all moms (and dads) have been there, and you’ll get through it. Our advice? Take it all in, stay calm, and follow your instincts. Lean on your support network to answer your burning questions (or find an expert who can help) and put your partner to work to help you during this unique and joyful time.
This article is our guide to how moms can take care of themselves these first 72 hours at home, but if you’d like more information that focuses on baby’s first few days at home, we really like this article.
Give yourself the space to work through the birth you just experienced. It was likely incredibly intense and challenged your emotional and physical self. Take the precious moments while baby is sleeping, or even awake, during these first 72 hours at home to find a quiet space where you can process the last few days of your life. All of a sudden everything has changed and that’s a wonderful thing. But, like other types of trauma, failing to process this emotional experience can actually make the trauma even harder to process. If you journal, jot down a few notes about what you’re feeling. Sometimes just the act of putting your feelings on paper can make you feel that much better. Even a Facebook or Twitter post counts as journaling therapy if that’s how you like to express yourself.
Regardless of your method, try to keep the noise at bay these first few days. That may mean delaying visitors (even the virtual kind, in light of the current COVID-19 climate) or asking your partner to keep distractions like TV and music to a minimum. Silence is a powerfully therapeutic tool but if you find silence deafening, soothing, meditative music might be your go-to. And baby will love it, too.
You just gave birth. WOW! What an incredible experience and likely an intense one. Whether you had complications or a breezy birth, now is the time to focus on your body, physically and emotionally. If you can, try to plan ahead for your own wellbeing after birth. Register for items that will make you more comfortable when you get home, like a cozy robe or slippers. The groundbreaking physical care items from Frida Mom address several wellness needs during those first few days or weeks at home and can also be added to your registry, or add them to your cart when you stock up for diapers. This is the most important time for you to heal your body and appreciate the gift it has given you. If you can find the time, or have a handsome helper, make nourishing foods that aid in the healing process. Nourishing soups or lactation cookies will warm your soul and help with those first few days of breastfeeding, too. Plus, cookies just make everything seem a little bit better, don’t they?
Trust your instincts
Authentically lean into your deepest emotions during this time. Your hormones, muscles and circulatory system are working in ways you’ve never experienced before and likely affecting how your brain processes pain, fear, happiness and a myriad of other emotions. Let your body and mind express those feelings in a way that feels natural, like crying or laughing at something absurd. Don’t bottle it up; both your body and your baby will feel the effects of repressing your inner feelings. If you feel comfortable sharing with your partner, unload on them! Now is not the time to keep your feelings to yourself. And it’s likely that they are stepping on eggshells so as not to ruffle your feathers. Once you open up, they’re likely to do the same and that open communication will aid in your healing.
Instincts are just that - intuitive feelings that are best not ignored. If you feel depressed, physically incapable of something or that something “just feels wrong”, now is the time to seek medical or expert attention. Postpartum Support International has a 24/7 hotline that instantly connects you with someone that can listen. Your OBGYN, nurse practitioner, doula or midwife are also resources to lean on for specific questions or concerns. Remember that it’s likely someone else has experienced the same feelings or pain you’re going through, so asking questions in a judgment-free atmosphere is always a good idea.
There are a million little and big things coming your way now that baby is home! Keeping your baby happy and healthy is your new priority, but don’t forget about yourself. You’re likely home for the next few weeks or months bonding with baby and building your new normal. Now is the time to build routines and a support network (which may include providers like those from Tot Squad) that make you feel like supermom, even if that just means taking a shower once in a while. Every little thing you do to improve your self-esteem, physically and mentally, is well worth your efforts. Keep it up mama, you’re doing a great job!