Peaceful Transition: My Plan for the First Forty Days Post-Partum

I’m now 27 weeks pregnant, which means it’s time to get serious about getting ready for baby and the post-partum transition. And while it’s likely that I won’t deliver until close to my due date (or even after!), I like to have everything mostly done by 37 weeks, just in case. Plus, in my experience, those last 3 weeks while you’re lugging around a fully formed human being are not a time you feel like busting through a to do list.

So for your benefit (especially if you’re a first-time mom!) as much as my own, here’s my official getting ready list, thoughtfully divided into categories. I’m preparing for a vaginal delivery in a birth center (which means no drugs and heading home 6-8 hours after birth), but most of this list should be applicable regardless of what type of birth you think you’re having or end up having.

Physical

Last time, I don’t think I spent enough time thinking about my own physical comfort after delivery. Not making that mistake again! Even though I had the best possible outcome on the sliding scale of delivery experiences (relatively short labor + vaginal delivery + no tearing), child birth is never going to be pretty.

Obviously, there’s bleeding. Last time I used disposable pads, which I hate. They feel and smell gross, and they contribute to landfills. I especially don’t like the idea of chemicals in such a delicate area after a traumatic event! So this time I’m going to stock up on Lunapads Performa Maxis. 5 should be enough since I can toss them in the wash with the cloth diapers every night. I’m also going to get a few more pairs of my fave Dear Kate undies as back up and to wear solo as the bleeding lightens up. After my first baby, I really wished I had some chux pads on hand to protect my bed for the first day or two. I’m planning to get a couple reusable chux pads; I can put one on my bed preemptively in case my water does break in the middle of the night (not likely), and they’ll come in handy down the road for potty training.

Other necessities:

I’m also planning to treat myself to a couple new sets of loungewear and maybe a pretty kimono robe. It’ll be nice to feel a tiny bit pulled together!


 

I also need to stock up on breastfeeding essentials. Years ago, I posted about a nursing basket I gave to a friend having a second baby. It’s by far the most popular post on my blog, and that’s probably because breastfeeding, especially with a newborn, is serious business. I already have the two items I’ll probably need the most: my Boppy and my 40 oz Hydro Flask. And I’m sure I’ll be referring back to my copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

This time I have the benefit of knowing my own personal challenges in regards to nursing (I tend to get clogged ducts, among other issues), so I can prepare accordingly. I plan to start taking Lecithin after delivery to prevent plugged ducts, and drinking Mother’s Milk tea to help my milk come in (I didn’t have supply issues with my first, but drinking this before pumping made a big difference). A midwife mentioned that routinely using a warm compress might prevent plugged ducts, too, so the Lansinoh TheraPearl hot/cold packs will be nice to have.

Also on my list:



Mental

Post-partum hormones are bananas, and pregnancy hormones aren’t that great, either. With my oldest, I didn’t start feeling like myself again until a month or so after he weaned– at 12 months. So I potentially have another long road of feeling “off” ahead of me. Of course, the hardest period is the first few days and weeks after baby is born. I’m hoping that with a little effort on my part, I can make the transition easier on myself.

  • Having my placenta encapsulated. I did this with my oldest, and could definitely tell when I had to forgotten to take them. Potential placebo effect? Absolutely. But for $200 I don’t really care.
  • Making our bedroom super cozy and functional. In The First Forty Days, Heng Ou calls this “creating your nest.” I spent a lot of time snuggling my newborn in bed, and I absolutely plan to do that again. Knowing I’ll be spending so much time in bed makes me want to make sure our bedroom is a pleasant place to spend a good chunk of time. Since we had E, we’ve upgraded our bed to a super comfy Tuft & Needle mattress (it was our Christmas present to ourselves this year and we’re still giving ourselves pats on the back for it), and added a TV (I love watching TV in bed and I don’t care how bad it is for my sleep– which has been awful since I was a little kid, so I’m not really making it any worse). I still need to order and install blackout curtains (and get rid of the ugly window treatment that came with the house!) and new bedside lamps. I also want to add a bunch of plants (particularly some low-maintenance air plants) and an essential oil diffuser.  Function wise, Baby has a lovely vintage Jenny Lind cradle I scored from our birth center’s Facebook group. I’m planning to add a lambskin to make it extra cozy. And I’ll set up a diaper changing station on top of our dresser. I’m actually looking forward to holing up as much as possible the first six weeks!
  • Anticipating a hard time. Journaling has always been my anchor during rough times. With that in mind, I recently worked through Esme Wang’s gorgeous e-course, Rawness of Remembering. Much of it won’t be applicable until I’m actually in that rough time, but I’ve picked up a few good tips and rituals (being Catholic, I felt particularly drawn to her suggested practice of praying the examen, a Jesuit prayer, at the end of every day), and I like knowing I have the course material to return to at any time. Another great resource is her (free!) e-book, Productivity Journaling with Limitations. I recently purchased my first Hobonichi because I was so enamored with her morning ritual. I’m also going to make sure my nightstand is stocked with things I enjoy doing: plenty of reading material, an easy knitting project or maybe an embroidery project (I’m loving Sarah K. Benning’s patterns), a coloring book and colored pencils (I picked up a copy of Moods in Motion, a postpartum coloring book, at a maternal mental health conference a few months ago), and obviously, my notebooks.


Environmental

We have some big home projects to tackle before Baby arrives; we’re getting new carpet installed on our stairs and replacing the flooring throughout the second floor. Thankfully, the wheels are already in motion for this and we’re leaving the hard work to qualified professionals. Once that’s complete, we can work on getting Kiddo #1 set up in his new big boy bedroom and playroom. The nursery just needs a few small tweaks to get it ready for Kiddo #2, so I’m not too concerned about that (mostly setting up the crib again, patching some holes from a curtain installation gone awry, etc.). And I’m going to have the house cleaned from top to bottom (I think my days of trying to keep up with the housework myself are behind me, at least for now). I’ve also been decluttering and reorganizing as much as possible, which feels great and will make room for all the extra “stuff” a new family member will bring.

The other big task in this category is stocking the freezer and pantry. I think I did a pretty good job of this the first time around, and it was oddly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to tackling it again. This time, The First Forty Days will be an invaluable resource. I have a feeling I will be particularly depleted after this pregnancy (while I’ve done a decent job taking methyl folate, I haven’t been taking a multi-vitamin prenatal, although I really need to try again now that nausea seems to finally be in the past). I’m planning to make and freeze the following soups from the book:

  • Quinoa, Lentils & Greens
  • Creamy Kabocha & Red Lentil
  • Seasonal Greens

Plus the Oats & Chia Congee.

I’ve also been thinking about my favorite freezer-friendly meals that I can make in advance, like the turkey bolognese and turkey chili from Dinner: A Love Story. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post on what I actually end up making and freezing.

I think that covers it! Easy-peasy, right? Currently, my plan is to work on house prep and freezer/pantry stocking in August and September, then do an online shopping spree of anything we need (baby will need some clothes, and I’d like some new muslin blankets) in late September/ early October when I’m feeling truly miserable.

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