• Alexis Concetta Montalvo

Navigating Postpartum: How I Prepared & What Actually Helped my Sanity

Postpartum. The shadow that accompanies us from the time that beautiful being leaves your body. I could argue that I was afraid of my own "shadow". And, I recognized how potentially harmful this time could be, knowing that this period was one that was unavoidable.

If you simply google the word "postpartum", a slew of postpartum depression research and information pops up along with the medical definition and stats on the side of your search results. Childbearers, beware, the internet has already labeled your "after-child state" as one with depression. Perhaps its because most women experience these "baby blues". Whatever google wanted to tell me, I didn't want to know. The anxiety I had about this metaphoric shadow of PPD, was real. And like with everything in my life, I just wanted to be prepared just a little bit.

Before I gave birth, I didnt know what kind of birth I would have, either vaginal or c-section. (Though my c-section was planned, I didn't want it being it wasnt medically necessary.) Either way, I wanted my home to be ready for my arrival home, so I read up and watched a ton of Youtube videos. Simple things that I could do to make me physically & emotionally comfortable. Of course I didn't realize at the time, these simple things, helped make it eaiser for my husband and family members while they cared for William George, too, since I wouldnt be able to right away. Also, they just made me feel good or helped me keep my cool when I was on the verge of losing it.

Here's a list of what I prepared & actually used after coming home from the hospital:

1) Changing baskets

Prep baskets in each room set with diapers, wipes, diaper cream and some extra burp cloths and onesies. It's not fun to be running from room to room with a crying newborn looking for rash cream or a change of clothes after a blowout! I placed baskets in the bedroom, the living room & on the changing table in WG's room. Not only did this help my sanity, it helped me stay in bed at night, because everything is right there.

We bought these baskets at Burlington, but I found some similar ones that are super cute on Amazon linked here.

2) Bathroom Care-Kit

I set up my "teacher cart" in my bathroom with essentials for post-birth. After birth, whatever kind you have, bleeding and the uncomfort is real!

(I didnt even know there was vaginal bleeding after a cesaeran! But its actually because of your uterus recovering from the loss of your placenta. The wound is present and needs to heal! )

Let me first introduce you to your new best friend: PERI BOTTLE. This water shooter is seriously the most soothing relief to your swollen lady parts. I kept two rotating peri bottles that I recieved from the hopsital and that I ordered online with warm water for my bathroom runs. Also included in my "stash" were pads (I learned that I preferred the cotton ones such as Stayfree-they were just comfier as opposed to the dry weave), Tucks wipes, Witch hazel (wipes or spray) & Dermoplast (ideal if you needed stitches!). Also, peep the diapers. Did anyone ever tell you you'd be in diapers too? Believe it or not, these were so comfy and perfect for the first few days and bedtime! I did have extra mesh panties the hospital gave me and I seriously preferred these for those nights of relaxing with padcicles. (Check me out flaunting my mesh panties in my COVID mask @ 7 hours PP)

3) A "Pretty" Pumping Station

If you're planning on breastfeeding, or even if you're not, having a little sanctuary is so nice, mentally, physically and even asthetically. My husband had moved one of our sitting chairs into our master bedroom along with a small sidetable. It had great back support (ideal if youre pumping) and arm rests (ideal for feeding). I set up the side table close by with my Medela pump, a phone charger, headphones & pump cleaning wipes. Keeping water & snacks closeby is a great idea. I learned quickly that pumping thirst is a real thing! Also, I used coconut oil after every pump & feeding to prevent chapped or dry nips! Eventually, I was able to get a second pump and create a space on my dresser for easy night time pumping as well.

We also had a ton of sanitary products because of my COVID-19 diagnosis. I was equipped with sanitzer, antiseptic spray, gloves, masks & a garbage pail right by my pump. This helped ensure that I was maintaining cleanliness for the first week or so. I still keep my sanitzer and cleaning wipes close by with a small garbage can, but pumping with rubber gloves on is not "ideal".

4) Mental Health Checklist

While I was pregnant, I knew my anxiety could make or break this postpartum experience. I wanted to ensure I had some tools to access, should I feel overwelmed. I also knew that there were some things that I "wanted" for when I came home. My husband helped me create a checklist of things and we went through who would be responsible for what throughout the household. Thankfully, Tim does most of the cooking so that was one thing I didnt need to worry about!

I spoke to Tim about some of my worries and we came up with some things I could do or say if I was getting overwelmed or needed a break. At the time, we didnt think the world would be in pandemic mode, so we planned to have someone stop by once a day/every other day (parents or inlaws) to drop off lunch, help with the baby, or just give me a break.

I love to shop and who doesnt enjoy putting on some new clothes? Knowing I wouldnt be able to shop with a newborn, (other than Amazon!) I bought some pretty PJs to wear each day at home. I thought having some new PJs would help me feel good about the day and also feel more put together without putting on actual clothes. Victoria Secret was my go to!

Write down some worries or anxieties you have with your partner. Discuss how you plan to troubleshoot these issues when they arise. Again, this isnt a perfect plan. My hubs and I didnt plan to parent in a pandemic but hey, we made it work, while still making sure we are each okay!

5) POSTPARTUM UNDERWEAR- yes, I went there but do you know that good underwear can make alll the difference!? These support panties I bought from Amazon were everything for making me feel human again. They held in my new mommy pack right in place and helped me feel well supported throughout the day. (This was Day 7 PP)

6) Make a Playlist!

I spoke a bit about how my playlist helped me during my birthing process during my birth story. Music is calming. It helps relieve tension and it really helps with the lonely feeling you might get if the room was quiet or empty. Put on a playlist each day when you wakeup. In our house, we have a playlist for almost every part of our day! It really just depends on what we want to hear but typically heres our "schedule":

Mornings: Disney Piano Music

Day Time: Anything from Marc Anthony to the Gypsy Kings or

the Bee Gees to Justin Timberlake!

Nap/Bed Time: Spanish Lullabies or Tibetian Singing Bowls

Also, consider downloading some audiobooks youve been meaning to listen to or want to read. I went through a few really awesome books during pump sessions or especially at when I couldn't sleep while baby slept!

These little things helped me so much navigating the "shadow" of postpartum, especially in those early stages of figuring out the new human that belongs to you! This is all such a rollercoaster ride. Some days good some days bad. Even hour to hour all hell could break lose! Finding comfort in things that make you happy is not selfish or self centered. It helps fill your cup to then pour out to your baby & to your partner too. Understanding what you need or what works for your family is so helpful in learning how to transition through this unknown time, with just a little bit of comfort!

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