Baby showers are great. You get to see your friends and family, it’s a great way to get a lot of the gear you need for your new arrival and there’s plenty of food. Of course, most of the same folks who come to your shower will want to drop in during the first few weeks of your baby’s life. I mean, who can blame them. And while that’s great… it can also be exhausting. That’s why a postpartum party can allow loved ones to visit baby and support you during the fourth trimester at the same time.
Postpartum Party to Help with the Fourth Trimester
Bear with me here. I know what you’re thinking. “That’s INSANE!” The first six weeks of parenthood are an endurance race you stumble through in a fog of sleep deprivation, physical pain, and baby poop… What kind of masochist would try to throw a PARTY during that time?
Don’t worry; it’s not that kind of party. This is an opportunity for you to invite your village to support you during those first few weeks. Writer Marisa Mendez Marthaller, who pioneered the idea, describes a Postpartum Party as a six-week-long event “with supercool games like housecleaning and diaper changing.”
Friends and family will inevitably say things like “Let me know if you need anything!” But in the first few weeks after giving birth, you’ll struggle to put together a coherent sentence. You won’t have time to help your friends arrange to bring you dinner or help out with housecleaning.
That’s where the Postpartum Party comes in. Make a “guest list” of people you are comfortable with being in your home when you’re in your pajamas and covered in spit-up. Then work with them to organize a food and cleaning schedule. You can use Google calendar or a site like mealtrain.com to help your friends and family coordinate when they’ll come by to help out.
A house-cleaning and food schedule are great but don’t forget to put mother sitting on the schedule. That means allowing a few hours here and there for whatever you need at that moment. Whether it’s holding the baby so you can take a shower or a nap or folding the laundry, there are lots of ways your people can support you.
We spend so much time preparing for our little bundle to arrive that we often forget to prepare ourselves and our homes for our own recovery. Planning a Postpartum Party is a great way to set yourself up for success.
Must-Haves For Your Postpartum Supply List
Another way is to create a postpartum checklist. There are a few thousand “new baby” checklists out there on the internet. Most include precious little in the way of supplies and preparations for the new mommy. The immediate aftermath of childbirth is messy and painful and complicated by the bundle of joy you are now responsible for. It’s easy to push your own needs aside, which just makes matters worse in the long run. Making sure you have these items prepped and ready before you head to the hospital will make things a little easier.
Sitz Bath – Your down under is going to need some extra care after you have baby. Keeping an over the toilet bath around will be a lifesaver. It will allow you to effectively take care of yourself and the healing process, without having to spend all of the time needed to take an actual bath.
Postpartum Bath Salt – Bath salts can be helpful with soothing and relieving any pain you may experience. The essential oils they contain are also very therapeutic.
Witch Hazel Pads – TUCKS pads or similar are soft enough to gently clean your currently EXTRA sensitive private bits and they can be tucked into the top of your pad, creating a welcome cooling sensation.
Peri Squirt Bottle – It’s just a simple plastic bottle with a squirt top for cleaning off your privates after you use the restroom, but they are absolutely indispensable. The hospital will probably provide you with one of these miracle workers. It’s still worth it to acquire a few more so that you have one for any bathroom you might use. If you plan on leaving the house for any reason, take a small one with you.
Perineum Spray – Whether you get Dermoplast or prefer to go a more natural route with something like Earth Mama’s Herbal Perineum Spray, this is an absolute MUST. Both use a numbing agent to ease the sting after you use the restroom. This is a godsend in those first weeks, especially if you have stitches down there.
Period Panties – The hospital will put you in mesh underwear and if you ask, will send you home with a few pairs. They. Are. Hideous. They are also incredibly practical for the first few days. After that, you’ll want to have a solid supply of comfy undies that you don’t mind getting stained until the bleeding subsides (which usually take a few weeks).
Pads – You will need pads. The hospital will send you home with pads that are larger than you ever thought possible. You will only need those for the first few days or so. Make sure you have a supply of comfortable pads in varying sizes for the weeks that follow.
Breast Pads – Whether you are nursing or not, you will leak. Obviously, if you’re nursing, you’ll want to stock up on breast pads since you’ll be at risk of an embarrassing leak for much longer. There are a lot of reusable options out there as well, made from cotton and bamboo that help keep you dry without creating a bunch of extra waste.
Prenatal Vitamins – Don’t stop taking your prenatals just because baby is here. Your body needs to recover, and those vitamins have a ton of nutrients that will go a long way in that endeavor. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to keep taking prenatal vitamins until your baby is weaned.
Stool softener – Trust me. The LAST thing you want is to end up constipated and straining to poop when everything else down there is still pretty wrecked and trying to heal. It takes a while for your system to balance out and most hospitals will prescribe iron supplements (which can cause constipation) for a few weeks to help combat the natural blood loss of childbirth. That’s why many doctors recommend a mild, non-stimulant stool softener to help things along.
Soft Ice/Heat Packs – Think gel beads or rice bags. You might need these for your downstairs or you might need them for engorged breasts. Either way, it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.
Hydration Essentials – It’s easy to get super dehydrated when you’re on an insane schedule, sleep-deprived, and recovering from pushing another human out of your body. Make sure you have a few water bottles (that are easy to manage one-handed) as well as lotion (to combat all that hand sanitizer dryness), and chap-stick, strategically placed around your home. Staying super hydrated will help your body heal faster and is especially crucial if you’re nursing.
Sleeping Bras/Nursing Bras – Even if you aren’t nursing, your breasts will be tender. Pick up a comfortable sleeping bra. If you are nursing, invest in a few good nursing bras.
The bottom line is, just like pregnancy, every woman’s postpartum journey is different. The important thing is to recognize that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s also absolutely CRUCIAL to take care of yourself. You have to take care of YOU in order to take care of your baby.