Build Your Mama Nest
Updated: Jan 15
When you see those 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test, I bet your first thought that comes to mind is - "How will I recover once the baby is born?". haha, NOPE! Let’s be honest, 90% of our pregnancies are spent planning for baby. What color should the nursery be, boy or girl, a zillion sweet baby outfits, what’s the right car seat to buy, baby monitors, swings, bibs, pacis, what kind of stroller do I want… the list seems never ending. We ask our friends what they used, what they liked or didn’t like, what has worked for their baby, ask for hand-me-downs and spend 9 months assembling ALL.THE.THINGS. -- especially if this is your first baby!
There are a select few who start to think about the 4th trimester during their pregnancy, and kudos to those mamas, Gathering information, making a plan, and a little prep for those early days when it’s all a blur of emotions, pain, exhaustion, and love will help this time feel a bit less like an unknown, bumpy road you’re traveling to some undetermined destination in a janky, beat up car. :)
There is no right way.
This blog post is only meant to serve as a suggestion; something to get you thinking about a postpartum plan and building your mama nest BEFORE baby arrives. Every family situation is different, every baby is different, and we all have varying experiences, so YOU DO YOU, BOO. Each of my 4th trimesters (and there were 3!) was completely different from the next. I'd like to think I learned and adapted with each one, but those thoughts might have to be saved for another blog post! :) Here are my tips!
Heal and Rest
As soon as your placenta detaches from your uterus after baby is born, it leaves behind a dinner plate sized wound that needs time to heal. It is essential to rest, sleep, bond with baby, and let others take care of you in the first 2 weeks postpartum. This doesn’t mean carting your other kids to school, going grocery shopping, or even long walks around the neighborhood. (There are things you can do to physically help heal and regain strength, but we’ll talk about those in another post). Now, I am a mama who has a history of just doing it all myself. I am independent and I didn’t like to ask for help. I went for long walks on day 5 after having my first son. My husband went back to work as soon as we got home from the hospital. I tried running at week 4 without any success of keeping my pants dry. I went back to work at week 6. I bet you can guess where that got me… yep NOWHERE. It took me longer to heal and in the end, I was no stronger or more active after his birth than I was after my 3rd. In fact, probably even less so.
Plan for help
I know these strange Covid times make this more difficult, but postpartum doulas are still out there you guys, desperately wanting to help all the mamas. So if you don’t have family nearby and are looking for some support, I cannot recommend a postpartum doula enough! They will help you heal, make you delicious foods, answer questions you have, and almost anything else in between. Here is a link for more information or to connect with someone in your area: Find a doula. If you are in Charleston, please look up Charleston Doulas United to get hooked up with some of the most caring healers I have met.
This is probably one of the most important parts of your recovery after birth, and one that is often overlooked because we are too tired, don’t feel like eating, or just plain don’t want to fix it. Many cultures believe in fueling the body with warm foods during the early postpartum periods is the optimal way to boost a healthy immune response and aid in recovery. Making a big pot of yummy soup (or asking your doula/support person) to do it for you, is a great idea and easy to reheat quickly. The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou is a wonderful book with all kinds of tips for the postpartum period, but includes some warming recipes that you can plan for ahead of time. In addition, keeping that water bottle by your bedside or rocker will help you reach the goal of drinking 50% of your body weight in fluid ounces. Adding collagen (Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides) to your coffee/tea will aid in soft tissue healing, integrity, and strength.
Building your nest
Just like a mama bird builds her nest before the baby birds arrive, I ask that you, too, build your mama nest to help make things easier and more comfortable for you in those first 2 weeks after your baby is born. It will be less stressful and easier to find things you need if they are all contained in one place, close by to where you’ll be using them!
Postpartum peri-care: Place a basket (or even take the plastic wash basin from hospital!) in your bathroom that has all the things you’ll need to help your lady parts heal. Items you may want to include: Peri-Bottle (Frida Mom), Pads, witch hazel, extra undies or mesh panties, cooling spray (Earth Mama herbal perineal spray), tucks pads, epsom salts or an herbal sitz bath .
Feeding station: For baby and for mom, whether by bottle or breast! Keep this basket close to where you’ll be feeding baby most often. Ideally, this is also close to where you’ll be doing most of your resting during the day. If nighttime feeds will take place in another room in your home, you can either move the basket or have two! You’ll probably also have a diaper changing station close-by too! I can’t tell you how many times I would sit down to feed, only to hear an explosive sound and have to change 3-4 poops before we would get to the end of the feed! Items you’ll want to include: Water bottle, warm things to drink, snacks that are easy to eat 1 handed (Kind bars, nuts, etc), nursing pads (disposable or washable), nipple cream, and burp cloths to catch milk spray or spit up.
Busy boxes for siblings: If your baby has older siblings, you might want to put together a few toys or books to keep them close by and entertained while you feed the baby or change a blowout! I’m certainly not above turning on a show, but for the older siblings who just won’t watch a show or aren’t old enough, this helps them feel connected to you and maybe they won’t find trouble somewhere else in the house! They also make great gifts for expecting mamas - Learn Through Playing has some really cute boxes!
I’d love to hear from you if you find tips like these helpful!
Drop a comment, share with your mama friends, or send us a DM on Instagram!