6 Things New Moms Should Know About Postpartum Recovery

As a new mother, your first instinct is to focus on taking care of your little one, even if that means ignoring your own body’s needs. It can be easy to dismiss that you’ve just undergone a very intense physical and emotional experience, but it’s important to acknowledge that it will take a while to recover and feel “normal” again. 

An overwhelming number of new mothers do not feel adequately prepared for the postpartum experience. To help you plan for the unexpected after you give birth, we’ve compiled the top things you need to know before delivery day.


  1. Postpartum Bleeding Is Normal

You will continue to have vaginal bleeding for several weeks, which should get lighter and lighter, but this is not your period. As your body recovers and your uterus goes back to its normal size you release lochia, which looks a lot like your cycle. This is resolved in 3-6 weeks, so stock up on panty liners to help you stay fresh (tampons risk infection at this stage).


  1. Involution (AKA Afterpains)

You spent nine months expanding and after birth your uterus will shrink back to its normal size. Referred to as afterpains, new moms will get short, sharp, cramps in your abdomen that often come on while nursing, which helps expel blood clots.

When your little one latches on and begins suckling, your brain releases a hormone very similar to the medication you receive when you’re in labor. This six-week process, called “involution,” can be a painful one. Regular ibuprofen works to take the edge off. The trick is remembering to medicate about 20 minutes before feeding.


  1. Difficult Bowel Movements  

If you had a vaginal delivery you may be anxious to have that first poop after delivery. This is completely understandable if you received stitches close to that area. Even if you don’t have tearing, it’s going to be really sensitive for a while. 

However, delaying the first bowel movement only makes things worse. Make sure to drink lots of water. If you think you may have a problem getting things moving, ask your doctor to prescribe a stool softener or just buy one over the counter. You can also prop your feet on a box to minimize straining. 


  1. You May Not Be Period-Free For Long

Your period will typically return about six to eight weeks after you give birth. Those who practice “exclusive breastfeeding” might not have a period the entire time they breastfeed. Exclusive breastfeeding means that your baby is receiving only your breast milk. But for others, it might return after only a couple of months, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. And note—a cycle returned early brings ovulation, another thing to prepare for.


  1. Expect Your Hair To Change  

Another unpleasant postpartum surprise is hair loss. When you are pregnant your body produces more estrogen. While this makes your hair and skin look fantastic during pregnancy, after delivery your levels normalize over the first few weeks. This is when handfuls of hair can start to fall out. Most moms notice it in the shower when they are washing their hair. Even when you know this is going to happen, the amount of hair loss can be shocking. Don’t worry though, this phase is short-lived and your normal volume usually returns within six months.


  1. Emotional Distress 

Mothers should also be prepared for the emotional roller coaster that can happen after delivery. Your life has changed completely, which is really hard if you’re usually someone who has everything under control. Sporadic tears, frustration and fatigue – all to be expected. But it’s important to identify when you need additional help. 

Perinatal depression has typically referred to a period of time when symptoms appear anytime during pregnancy or within four weeks of delivery. When left untreated, perinatal depression can hinder bonding and healthy attachment, distort perception of the infant’s behavior and impair the mother’s attention to and judgment concerning safety.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers are screened for depression once during pregnancy, and that pediatricians screen mothers again during the infant’s well visits at 1, 2, 4 and 6 months of age. Take advantage of this time to discuss your feelings with your provider and ask for the support you need.  


How long will it take my body to return to normal?  

The first thing to realize is that following delivery you have a “new normal”. Don’t feel defeated – it will take time to figure out and adjust your new normal so be sure to manage your own expectations. Some new moms say it takes around a year to get into their routine and new body. Allow yourself grace during this time of change, get as much rest as you can and set realistic goals. 


10 Essentials Every New Mom Needs

Friends and family are quick to chime in with lists of items you’ll need once your baby arrives, but sometimes they forget to mention key details that make all the difference. 


You deserve the inside scoop and important accessories that will make your role as a parent easier. To help you out, we’ve gathered the top new mom must-haves and secret weapons.


  1. Stock Up On Postpartum Essentials

After delivery your body is going to need some time and TLC to recover. Along with ice packs and peri rinse bottles, get some sitz bath herbs to help soothe wounds, aches and reduce swelling. You’ll also need padsicles, like these from Frida Mom, which are chilled, large maxi pads that act as cold compresses and encourage healing.


  1. Understand The Importance Of Lactation Massaging

Clogged milk ducts are no fun and unfortunately are not uncommon for nursing moms. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends gently massaging the breast before each feeding. Breastfeed as often and as long as possible, offering your baby the sore breast first to drain it more effectively. Apply warm, moist towels on the affected breast several times a day. Also consider a milk expression aid that uses gentle vibrations to loosen ducts and get milk flowing again.


  1. Get A Portable Breast Pump

Pumping isn’t a pleasant mommy task. If you plan on nursing and are going to take the time to express milk for your little one, pick a pump that’s effective and portable. This will allow you to multitask while prepping baby’s next bottle. 


  1. Choose A Diaper Bag You Are Willing To Call Your Purse

Consolidate baby’s necessities by splurging for a diaper bag that doubles as your own bag. There is such a thing as a stylish and practical diaper bag. Armed with lots of pocket space and a washable finish, you’ll feel confident on the go. 


  1. Try On Your Baby Carrier Before You Buy It

Moving through life with your baby will be much easier with a baby carrier that’s comfortable to wear. However, you won’t know what fits your frame best until you take it for a test run. Look for one that has adjustable straps on your shoulders and hips so you can evenly distribute the weight, allowing your partner to use it too. 


  1. Invest In A Quality, Safe Crib Mattress

Quality sleep is essential for a baby’s health and wellbeing, and there are lots of factors to consider when looking into safe sleeping, such as firmness, quality components and manufacturing standards. Colgate Mattress ® was founded on the values of the safety of babies, children and the environment, which has earned our family owned and operated business many industry awards over the last 65 years.


  1. Make Sure Your High Chair Wipes Clean

There’s no avoiding it – baby meals are messy. High chairs with soft fabrics look comfy, but be sure that they can be wiped down with a wet cloth. Avocado, pureed veggies and Cheerios can creep into every crevice. It’s also helpful to be able to tuck the high chair tray into your dishwasher for easy cleaning. 


  1. You Need Two Strollers 

Really, two strollers? Consider the fact that you won’t want to push around a heavy stroller everywhere you go. Having a lightweight and collapsible option will save time, back pain and be a lifesaver in the long run. Look for one that’s JPMA certified to meet or exceed all safety standards, like this one from Jeep.


  1. Secure Baby Toys To Whatever Baby Is Sitting In

Rattles, teethers and other fun playthings stimulate baby’s senses, boost healthy development and keep your baby entertained when you’re busy. However, toys seldom stay in your little ones hands. To avoid playing fetch all day, pick up a few toy straps to attach items to your child’s stroller, car seat and high chair.


  1. Ask For Board Books 

We tend to think storytime is about reading, but for babies it’s all about grabbing at the pages and children’s books are easily ripped. Baby proof story time with board books! Not only do they stand up to your tiny, curious fingers, many of them include textured elements that encourage tactile exploration.

Becoming a Parent During COVID-19

We are surrounded by images of blissful motherhood on social media, TV and in magazines. But many new mothers experience some distressing feelings after giving birth. That’s normal because the responsibilities of being a new parent are both tough … and exhausting. Fathers are also at risk of depression after the birth of a baby, and the risk goes up significantly when the mother experiences depression too. 

New parents need plenty of support during the best of times, but when faced with hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, new visitation rules for delivery rooms and the general uncertainty about how coronavirus affects our lives, the stakes can feel especially high.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your plans for support after childbirth from family and friends have probably been changed or may have even been cancelled. Losing your support system can make it harder to figure out a smooth transition to parenting. 

Fortunately, help is available – from family, peers and providers. However, support looks a little different now. Most providers are using telehealth visits for most of their visits, and support groups have moved online. 

Below are resources for providers, support groups and ways that we all can support parents and families during this uncertain time.

These groups and resources can offer the chance to communicate with people who get it. We hope these make the day-to-day challenges, fear and overwhelm a little easier to take.