Updated: Jun 17, 2020
The first few weeks of your baby's life disappear in a blur of sleepless nights, cluster feeding and dirty nappies. All the while, you're trying to recover from bringing a human into the world! Whether you're recovering from a c-section or a vaginal birth, it is super hard on your body. Not only that, it's hard on the mind! Sleep deprivation is seriously tough, no matter who you are.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get through the first few weeks post birth. Because a comfortable, happy mama means a happy baby!
Sleep whenever you can
See what I did there? It's not "sleep when the baby sleeps" but it's similar. Realistically you can't always sleep when the baby sleeps, because sometimes you might like a shower. Or to go to the bathroom. Or to eat some food!
But do try and sleep whenever you can. Maybe your partner can stay up for a bit and take care of baby while you go to bed early. My husband and I tried sleeping in shifts for a few weeks and it worked pretty well. I'd go to bed at 7pm and wake up at 11pm for my shift. Our daughter was a contact sleeper, so we had to take turns to get any sleep.
Use reusable nursing pads
Once your milk comes in, leakage is going to be a thing! Disposable breast pads are uncomfortable and often scratchy. Your nipples are going to take a bit of time to get used to having a baby or pump attached to them, so you want to make sure whatever you're using to soak up the leakage is top notch.
Bamboo nursing pads are AMAZING. Not only are they soft, they're oh so absorbent. Even better, they're washable, so you can just pop them in a wash bag and throw them in the washing machine. They'll get even softer over time, too. Bonus!
Get a soft crop top for sleeping
For the first week or two after having my daughter, I was sleeping in my nursing bra. Bras aren't comfortable to sleep in, no matter how comfortable they are during the day. They've got straps and clips and things that'll dig into your skin while you're getting those precious moments of sleep.
Get yourself a few nice soft crop tops that are fitted but have no seams or clips. You can easily pop a couple of reusable breast pads in to catch any leaks, and if you need to feed baby during the night, just pull the top up. You'll sleep so much better, trust me!
Get a peri-bottle
If you'd had a vaginal birth, going to the loo afterwards can be a painful experience. Don't even get me starting on wiping! A great tip from my midwife was to keep a drink bottle in the bathroom (obviously don't use it for drinking again!) to spray your nether regions while you pee. The water helps with the stinging AND replaces wiping if you just can't face it. It's like a bidet, but cheaper.
Obviously you can also buy a 'proper' peri-bottle if you want to, but why not save some cash and just use a water bottle? You can use the cash to buy chocolate. Or wine.
Do what works for you
This one is crucial. Chances are you're going to be bombarded with so much advice, but you need to find what works for you. I was told to never sleep on the couch with my baby. Trouble was, she only wanted to sleep on me! And sometimes I was so tired I just couldn't stay awake. So I built a pillow fort up around me and we slept. She only rolled off me once, and that was onto a nice cushy pillow. And I woke up immediately to cuddle her back to me. Guess what, she didn't even wake up!
Sometimes the things that work for you won't be what you're advised to do. And that is totally okay. The newborn days are true survival mode. Obviously you do need to be mindful of the safety of your baby, but do what you need to do to get through the sleep deprivation and cluster feeding.
What postpartum survival hacks worked for you after having your baby?