As the senior instructor for Oh Baby! Fitness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can best physically and mentally prepare women for the experience of motherhood- not just labor and delivery, but also the first few weeks and months that go by in a blur of joy and fear and sleeplessness. I think it’s easy when pregnant to just focus on how difficult labor can be physically, with little thought that the hard part is actually what happens AFTER delivery.
I’ve been lucky enough to work directly with thousands of pregnant women and new moms, and they’ve taught me a lot about how to prepare for those first few weeks after delivery. Here is some of their best advice about things to do when pregnant to prepare for the first two months postpartum:
1- Work your arms and upper back. As a new mom, you’ll spend a lot of leaning forward over your baby- feeding, changing diapers, and bathing. A strong upper back will keep you from getting that hunched over new mom look. Also, car seats are heavy, and your little 8lb baby is going to feel REALLY heavy on that 4th nighttime feeding. Work your biceps when pregnant- you’ll be glad you did.
2- Fill your freezer with small, microwaveable meals. Think of things you can heat up and eat in just a few minutes- there will be days where it’s too hard to cook the frozen lasagna, but you might be able to warm up that single serving of soup.
3- Be choosy about who is around. Some moms want lots of visitors, some want none, and some REALLY don’t want to have to deal with their mother-in-law right away. Trust your gut on this one—you will need help, but that doesn’t mean you have to take help from just anyone. Put someone, maybe your husband or partner, in charge of communicating these choices, and don’t feel guilty about them.
4- Know, ahead of time, who to call when things get hard. This could be your best friend, your mom, your therapist or your sister. Let this person know that you’ll need them— I guarantee they’ll be happy and honored. Pick someone you know you can call in the middle of the night, and someone who is good at making you feel calm and confident.
Those first few weeks are hard, but knowing how to prepare can really help. What do you wish you’d done when pregnant to prepare for the first few weeks? Let us know in the comments.