When you're pregnant, thinking about what life will be like after you give birth is probably low on your to-do list. Between making a baby registry, decorating the nursery, and reading all about parenting, it's understandable that your mind is on overdrive right now. But did you know that there are plenty of things you can do every day while pregnant that'll make postpartum recovery easier? As it turns out, you're probably already doing some of these without even realizing it. Basically, any measures you can take now — no matter how small they may seem — will definitely pay off in the long run.
If you're anything like me, you've likely heard a number of unsolicited postpartum recovery horror stories. Whether it's tending to those episiotomy stitches to never being able to sneeze again without peeing yourself just a tiny bit, you're probably overwhelmed with these hypothetical scenarios. But you don't need to worry because you're definitely not alone in this and, thankfully, there are many ways you can ensure the healing period after giving birth will go smoothly. So sit back, take a deep breath to clear your mind, and check out these super simple things you can do every day during your pregnancy to make postpartum recovery easier.
1. Assign Shifts
If you're lucky enough to have friends or family nearby who are willing to help, then you can start planning now. Even if you believe you'll be able to handle it all by yourself, having extra help is never a bad thing. So go ahead and start checking with those who've offered to help and see what days and times they're available. That way, once baby is born, you won't have to scramble to look for last-minute assistance.
2. Buy Underwear
Whether you had a C-section or a vaginal birth, there is still going to be an elevator-scene-from-The-Shining amount of blood coming out for a few days postpartum. Since you don't want to ruin all your nice undergarments, you can pick up cheap underwear for your postpartum bleeding, as Eileen Ehudin Beard, a nurse-midwife and family nurse practitioner, recommended to Fit Pregnancy. Of course, if you ever get concerned about your bleeding, don't hesitate to contact your physician.
3. Reach Out
This can be especially helpful if you don't already have friends who are parents or if you're new to the area. As The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) told The Huffington Post, you can join support groups for new mothers while you're still pregnant. This will be a great way to stay social postpartum and you might learn some things from the experienced parents in the group.
4. Prep For Meals
One of the best pieces of advice I ever took about postpartum recovery was to do meal planning. In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you can either make simple dishes that can be portioned out and frozen, take people up on their casserole offers, or just keep your favorite delivery place on speed-dial.
5. Set Up Your Space
You don't truly realize the little things you take for granted before you give birth. Little things, like popping downstairs for a snakc or getting in and out of bed, can become huge hurdles postpartum. Coralie Macqueen, a certified nurse-midwife, told Parents that you should, "limit trips up and down the stairs, avoid long walks," and basically don't put any unnecessary strain on your body. What's the solution? While you're pregnant, you can stock your bedroom up with necessities and arrange things in a way so you don't have to exert yourself to reach things. Putting a step-stool by my bed did wonders during my recovery.
6. Do Kegels
You've probably heard people talk about Kegels before, but how can doing them while your pregnant make postpartum recovery easier? According to What To Expect, "regularly doing Kegels during and after pregnancy can help decrease the odds of complications." In my experience, it also helped with my bladder control immediately after birth.
7. Buy Lube
It may not be the most fun topic in the world, but trust me when I say you don't want to wait until you really need this to purchase it. OB-GYN Dr. Susan Bliss told The Bump that, "you're low on estrogen after delivery, causing a thinning of your vaginal membrane, which can lead to dryness." So go ahead and pick up some lubrication now, and you'll thank yourself postpartum.
8. Eat Fiber
If you get into the habit of eating healthy, fiber-rich food during your pregnancy, it won't be a big deal to continue doing so after you've given birth. That's why my OB-GYN told me it was super important to begin a tummy-friendly diet while pregnant because it would help make postpartum bowel movements much easier.
9. Invest In Pillows
There's no such thing as having too many pillows, in my opinion. As it turns out, getting a jump-start on your pillow collection now will pay off in the long run. As Beard told Fit Pregnancy, sitting on doughnut pillows after a vaginal delivery or holding a pillow over your abdomen to sneeze or cough after a C-section will make your postpartum recovery much easier. Whether you just need a little extra padding or you want to create an entire fort, investing in pillows during pregnancy is a great way to prepare for postpartum.