There’s so much excitement surrounding a baby. We’re thrilled to try to conceive (if we get the memo that we’re TTC before we conceive, that is). We’re elated to see those two pink lines pop up on the test stick—and the other sticks that follow that we can’t help but buy because we just need to relive that moment over and over again.

Then comes the pregnancy. The symptoms, like morning—ahem, all day long—sickness are brutal but also serve as a constant reminder of the magic that is happening within us. Those baby kicks start kicking in and we can’t wait to cuddle our bundle of joy. But wait, that’s not all.

Often, we get so wrapped up in the bliss of motherhood and preparing for the most amazing birth we’re dreaming of, that we forget to plan for the aftercare of our own selves. Welcome to motherhood, right? We’re expectant mothers and suddenly we’re last on our own list. We’re prepared with all of the baby diapers in the world, but what about the adult diapers? Baby’s bum isn’t the only thing we’ll be tending to soon, and we may not have as much on-demand help at home, so it’s important to be prepared.

What Is Natural Birth At Home?

So what exactly constitutes a natural birth at home? It’s fairly self-explanatory. A vaginal birth that occurs in your home without the use of drugs for pain relief sums it up. While some women think of going natural as just meaning a vaginal birth, most in the birth community agree that the term natural implies no drugs.

Why Would Anyone Want To Do That?

Not so fast. Don’t go assuming that natural birth is the torturous experience the movies make it out to be. Every time a home birthing mom on Grey’s Anatomy shuffles into the ER with the most difficult labor anyone has ever witnessed, we women may clench our jaws a bit and wonder what would ever compel someone to birth at home. The Bradley Method would tell you to relax that clenched jaw. (Source)

The truth is, TV fodder needs to be dramatic to catch your attention. It shouldn’t be necessary when it comes to birth, but the modern medical system has done such a fabulous job at painting over the beauty of birth that most are unaware it even exists anymore.

Enter, the home birthing mom. She knows. She feels that magical urge within herself to connect with the women who have come before her as she brings her child Earthside. She is confident that her body was built to do this. She would feel she was seriously missing out if she had to birth any other way, and she knows the choice is hers to make. That’s not a liberty she takes lightly.

Much thought goes into planning for a home birth and a lot of that consideration goes toward prepping for what comes next. How should a woman who has just given birth be supported during her time as a new mother? What is the fourth trimester all about and what will recovery from a natural home birth require?

What Is The Typical Postpartum Experience?

Home birth isn’t for everyone. Some women have complicated pregnancies that make birth anywhere too far from an operating room too risky. Because of this, birth made its way into hospitals in the 20th century, after doctors had actually been attending home births since 1760. (Source)

Over the years, hospitals have made birth a big business. Each year in the United States, childbirth brings in over $50 billion dollars in revenue. (Source) Mothers may often gripe about feeling like herded cattle more so than an individual during their hospital birth experiences, and it’s not limited to the birth itself.

Recovering from birth in a hospital has its pros and cons. Because it is a business, there is a formula for hospital staff to adhere to, and the patient mother as well. She will receive the same postpartum care instructions as any other patient, as well as the same self-care supplies and assistance.

There will be frequent monitoring. Those abdominal massages aren’t for the faint at heart, and some mothers remark they are worse than the pain of labor. Keeping in mind that studies have shown an 80% decrease in postpartum blood loss and the need for uterotonics when the massage is performed, may help curb your lack of enthusiasm for it. (Source) There will be a lot of blood, frequent changing of padding on the hospital bed, and nurses escorting you to the bathroom to make sure you can go on your own.

There are also frequent checks on breastfeeding, documenting baby’s soiled diapers, IV drips that can come at the cost of a pretty penny, and fluorescent lights that don’t exactly set the mood. Dad is generally sleeping on a pull-out chair that hardly accommodates an adult male while you are propped up with oodles of pillows and wondering who else has used them. Hey, it’s a hospital.

Lots of beeps and bumps in the night will happen, too. I remember my hospital birth with my first son. I barely slept. I’d been in labor the whole night before, up all day following his birth, and the staff didn’t think twice before waking me up at all hours of the night to sign paperwork and meet with lactation consultants and other professionals I never asked to see. This momma just needed some rest!

Motherhood already thrusts us into a new life that is lacking restful sleep at night, but sleep deprivation can even manifest symptoms of Postpartum Depression; that’s not something moms need to sift through unnecessarily when they’ve just had a baby. (Source)

What Is Recovery Like From A Natural Home Birth?

Things are admittedly a little different at home, and women’s experiences vary based on how much they prepare for this time and who’s in their corner helping them out. Fortunately, we have a lot of options nowadays.

Foregoing drugs during labor means you will likely have a far easier time moving about sooner after labor. There is no numbness or risk to your health like there can be if an epidural was given. Being able to get up and move around sooner is best for you and baby.

That being said, you shouldn’t be overdoing it no matter where you birthed. The immediate postpartum period should be spent making sure everyone is resting but alert—comfortable and getting to know one another. Baby is going to start acclimating to his or her surroundings. Breastfeeding initiates. Everything is moving at a slower pace than one would typically experience in a hospital.

Dimmer lighting, your own candles burning, music you love, food you prepped earlier before your entire life changed in mere hours, and companions by your side who’ve spent countless hours with you preparing for this moment. That’s what you can expect during the kickoff to recovery from a natural home birth, and it only gets better.

What Do You Need To Buy For A Home Birth Recovery Aftercare Kit?

Of course, while there is much to consider about birth recovery, not every part of it is devoted to emotional, mental and spiritual factors. Some of postpartum life is about your daily care routine. Which products can you buy to makes the transition into motherhood a little bit easier on yourself?

1. Pack The Pads

You have a few options for keeping that blood where it belongs during those first few (or several) weeks of new motherhood life. Some women will completely stop bleeding after two to three weeks; others will take six to eight. Both sides of that spectrum are normal. (Source)

It’s also normal to have bleeding stop and see it pick up again a few days later. Many women worry their period is already starting when this happens. That isn’t impossible; it does happen. However, studies note it is not common to see the return of menstruation before eight weeks postpartum in a fully breastfeeding mother. (Source)

Instead of worrying about when it will end, embrace this time. Love your body. It is healing. What it has accomplished is truly magnificent; don’t let the fact that birth happens every day all around the world diminish just how astonishing the process is.

On that note, it can be a lot easier to immerse yourself in postpartum life versus hating it if you are comfortable. Consider whether you use disposable pads regularly for your menstrual cycles. If you don’t, ask yourself why not. If the answer is that it’s uncomfortable, then you might want to lend some thought to whether you really want to rock a disposable pad for a couple of months, potentially.

The good news is you do have other options. Many moms opt for adult diapers instead in the early weeks. Of course, as the blood flow slows, this isn’t the ideal underwear either for many women. Some will opt for period panties if their flow is scant enough. Others make good use of mama cloth; that is, cloth pads. The choice is yours, but props to the fun of picking out that mama cloth when preparing for your birth.

2. Where’s The Numbing Spray?

Some mommas opt for numbing sprays like Dermoplast, but others prefer more natural alternatives like Earth Mama’s Perineal Spray. Whatever suits your fancy, both are great options for making postpartum life more comfortable for you. Padsicles can also help to numb the region, but they are best reserved for the first 24 hours and not used after that point as icing can delay healing. (Source)

3. Speaking Of Pain

How you will feel after giving birth is pretty unpredictable. It varies from woman to woman and even from birth to birth in the same woman. You might feel a little achy or sore afterward, or you may not. If you do, the options for tending to that are expansive, too.

A heating pad can soothe aching pelvic bones and lady bits, as well as speed healing because it increases blood circulation and blood contains oxygen and nutrients needed to heal injury and tissue damage. (Source) While pain relief may come in the form of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, some mommas prefer to stick to more natural remedies. If that’s you, Arnica 200 fits the bill well.

4. Sitz Down

The sitz bath is a classic tool. It’s cheap, easy to use, and will soothe sore nether regions. It can also help to shrink those pesky hemorrhoids many mommas endure during pregnancy and postpartum from the pressure of baby on the perineum and excessive pushing during labor. Using one a few times a day can significantly reduce their size.

5. Nurse Those Nipples

Recovering from birth is a hurdle itself, but add in some complications while breastfeeding and it takes things to a whole other level. When fatigue has set in, and you’re bleeding like crazy, and your body is sore, and you’re craving all of the things you didn’t put into the freezer two months ago, adding a child with a shallow latch or supply issues to your daily life is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many mothers.

While 83.2 percent of women start out breastfeeding in America, only 57.6 percent are still going by the time their child is six months old. (Source) Many give up on breastfeeding too soon because of the difficulty of those first few weeks. Nipple damage is some serious pain, momma. I know it and I’d personally rather give birth all over again than deal with that one more time.

Some mothers may also experience shifts in their mood when nursing. Serious thought disturbances can occur upon the letdown of your milk as a response to hormones linked to nursing, like oxytocin. This is a condition known as Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex—or D-MER for short. (Source)

Prepare for this part of postpartum life by:

Address breastfeeding complications with an IBCLC; don’t leave them to worsen hoping they get better on their own.

6. Dress To Impress

Your baby, that is. Make sure you’ve got nightgowns, tank tops, and a few worthy-of-being-seen-in-public tops to wear in the initial postpartum period that are nursing-friendly. It will make life significantly easier and you far less resentful of breastfeeding if you’re having other complications with it.

7. The Magic Of Witch Hazel

Whether it’s witch hazel pads or mixing a little of the pure goodness of the well-known astringent into warm water in your peri bottle, it will soothe those lady bits and help lend a little tender loving care to hemorrhoids you may have developed during pregnancy or labor.

8. Doing The Doo

Speaking of hemorrhoids, they—along with the general anxiety of pushing again at all—may stifle any urge you have to pass a bowel movement. Too bad; you still have to. It will come and there won’t be any holding it in. Seriously, don’t do that. Instead, focus on making it easier to go. While lots of fluids and fiber are a great idea, if you need help, stool softeners are your friend. Medjool dates and prunes can help, too.

9. All The Herbs

Some midwives will prepare an herbal bath for momma after the birth. Or you can do this for yourself. Make sure your bathtub is well-sanitized as you will have a giant wound inside of you at that point in time.

Herbs can also be helpful in oral doses. Afterease is a great tincture to help soothe cramping that you will undoubtedly experience as the uterus shrinks back down. These are known as afterpains. While totally normal, you don’t have to suffer through them.

10. Peri, Please

An old-fashioned peri bottle to rinse those delicate parts will do just fine, but many mommas are also becoming big fans of the Mom Frida brand—otherwise known as the Fridet.

11. Postpartum Panties

You’re going to need something to hold that pad in place that is a bit looser and expansive. This isn’t the time for low-rise bikini undies. Go for the granny panties.

12. Choo! Choo! Chow Down

Did you hear that? It’s the sound of your meal train. Wouldn’t it be lovely to know that dinnertime is taken care of? You can focus on yourself and baby while your nearest and dearest prepare your meals. I know, I know; it sounds tacky to start your own meal train. Not anymore.

Prepare your friends and family members in advance by announcing your own meal train before baby is born or upon their arrival. There are lots of online tools that can assist and allow loved ones to sign up for their contribution and schedule a time to bring a meal (or even come tackle the vacuuming or laundry for you) and snuggle with the new addition.

Outside Of The Shopping Cart

Not every matter you need to plan for regarding your postpartum aftercare plan can be tended to on Amazon and Etsy. Here are some other steps you’ll want to make sure you have covered.

Taking Time Off

Maternity leave has probably been on your mind from the very day you found out you were pregnant. It’s something you tend to relish every day of, as you should. But preparing for maternity leave is a whole other ballgame.

You’ll want to go into that discussion with your boss prepared with a general idea of how much time you’re allowed to take off, and how much of it—if any—is paid.

It surprises some moms to find that they don’t really handle time off from work as well as they thought they would. Plan for that time. Will you be lying in? For how long? Who would you like to visit you postpartum and when?

Map out some activities you can do at home that won’t require much energy, such as finally finishing a book you’ve not had time for since birthing books replaced it. If you’re the workaholic type, know that you may feel more unsettled doing nothing and prepare for ways to still exercise your mind while you’re off from work.

Don’t Forget Support Structures

While it’s fairly easy to pull up any number of listicles that tell us what to pack in a labor bin or how to prepare for the fourth trimester, one critical component that is often overlooked is simply another set of ears and hands.

We need help during labor and postpartum. This is no time to pretend you’re a superhero and can do it all. You can’t, and you shouldn’t be trying to. Now is the time to outsource the tasks you normally tend to, such as picking up hubby’s dry cleaning and preparing dinner for the kids before scooting them off to soccer practice. You’re getting a free pass off of those mom duties for a while to bond with your new little one. Soak it up!

Preparing For Postpartum Life Sans Chores

You can take several steps during your pregnancy to make sure all of this goes off without a hitch, such as:

  • Prepping freezer meals that can be popped into the oven or slow cooker and left to their own devices
  • Buying your postpartum self-care supplies and keeping them in bins in your bathroom(s) so they’re readily accessible
  • Purchasing your breastfeeding supplies in advance and having a contained kit to keep it all in nearby
  • Asking for help in advance; let your loved ones know what you are going to need from them

What About The Baby Blues?

One of the biggest reasons moms need rest and support during the postpartum stage of life is because of the risk of mood disorders if they don’t have that support on hand.

Many people think women need this extra help because they’ve just endured something traumatic to their body and are injured in a sense and bleeding from it. We know better than this. While mom does need rest for her body to recover from the triumphant physical feat of birth, her body was still made for this and is quite capable of getting back on its feet without much interference or medical management.

It’s the mental part of this process that needs more support in place. New mothers are sleeping very little at night. A new mother gets around two hours less sleep per night for the first five months of her child’s life. (Source)

You’ll be nursing constantly to build up your milk supply. You’ll be tending to a baby all day and night, learning his cues and perhaps feeling frustrated or as though you don’t measure up at times when you can’t seem to figure your little one out.

You will still feel the urge to mother your other little ones, but there suddenly isn’t as much time to. I’m almost four months out from my fourth child’s birth now and still hate it every night that baby number three wants momma at bedtime but my time is more dominated by the newest addition right now.

We feel spread thin, and we need someone else to bear the load of work that is usually on our shoulders. We feel guilt at the same time because from the outside looking in, we imagine it looks like we barely do anything but hold a newborn all day. Sure sounds rough, right?

In a society that has reduced mothers who stay at home and care for their children to nearly nothing, there’s not a whole lot of respect floating around for mothers who do just that: tend to their kids around the clock. There should be.

Roughly 80 percent of new mothers will experience the baby blues—a transient shift in their mood marked by weepiness, loneliness and a general malcontent feeling. It typically comes on in the first week following birth and leaves by the second, but this can vary. (Source)

Other disorders can indeed creep in that present far more risk to mom and baby. Postpartum Depression impacts 1 in 9 women. (Source) In addition, around 10 percent of new mothers develop Postpartum Anxiety. (Source) These disorders are largely rooted in the shift of hormones that new mothers are not used to.

A lack of sleep produces more cortisol (the stress hormone), and the ups and downs of everyday life can lead to more adrenaline. Combined with the low sex hormones a new mother is coping with while nursing, this can be a recipe for a hormonal cocktail she’s never seen or felt before.

While medications can absolutely be beneficial to mothers who are struggling with postpartum mood disorders, many women may prefer to opt for bioidentical progesterone cream, herbs or other natural remedies first. One such trick of the trade is placenta encapsulation.

While medical professionals are quite divided on the topic, this practice has been ongoing for many years and a lot of mothers report benefits to their milk supply and mood when ingesting their placenta. (Source)

There’s No Place Like Home

There is a distinct difference between birth at home and birth in a hospital.

Make sure you hammer home the importance of nourishing foods at this time to your partner. He can even help prepare those freezer meals. Make use of meal delivery services where possible, too. Even a quick salad is a better option than fast food, which won’t leave you feeling satisfied.

You’ll need help with little things that first week post-baby, like getting up and down the stairs. It’s wise to let someone else carry the baby during those trips. You shouldn’t be carrying anything heavier than your baby for awhile. Sorry, someone else can tackle that mountainous laundry basket.

While you’re uber busy keeping track of baby’s sleep and eating habits and noting every feeding and diaper count in that app on your phone, don’t forget to power down in between it all and rest. Relaxation is your best friend during the fourth trimester.

It doesn’t have to be lying still and staring at the ceiling. But watching a television show, reading a book, taking a nap with baby (highly recommended), meditating, and even prayer are great ways to center yourself and make the most of the moments when your newborn is demanding your attention.

Postpartum doesn’t have to be a scary time. You don’t have to succumb to the horror stories of psychosis or feel riddled with anxiety about how you’ll get it all done. Ask for help now and ensure that you’ll get it. A steadfast support system is your strongest safeguard to ensure you’ll evolve into the new you in a timely and safe way.

Share or pin this article to your pregnancy board to look back at when the time comes to know what and how to prepare for your postpartum journey.

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