How to Survive Your First Week Postpartum (Vaginal or C-Section Deliveries)

Hilariously enough, after my last post about barely being able to stay sane in my pregnancy, I had my baby two days later. Sometimes you put it out there and that’s when the magic happens. Below are the ways I’m surviving my first week at home. I’ll try and do some other posts as more weeks pass.

Baby Harvey and Me. Photography by Abbie Smith.

Week 1 Postpartum (Vaginal Delivery)

  1. Rest. When you’re feeding your baby, lie down if possible. When you’re watching your baby sleep, lie down! If you can sleep when your baby sleeps, do it! I struggle with naps, so my biggest need is just lying down during the day and sleeping at a reasonable hour at night. Let your other kids watch a lot of TV if they’re into that. It’s not going to be like this forever. Rest, rest, rest.
  2. Set up help in advance. OK, so this one needs to be done before you’ve had the baby, but hear me out. I always find I am much more reluctant to ask for help when I need it. I know most people won’t be able to drop everything in the 11th hour, so I just don’t ask at all. However, if I can plan ahead, I’m more likely to ask for the help. Examples: ask friends to make you food about a month out from your due date, ask a friend or family member to come help tidy your house or pick up your kids for a playdate (once the baby comes) a couple of weeks before your due date. Knowing help is planned and coming can help you stay calm once baby arrives.
  3. Freezer mealsI asked for meals from friends and family about once every 5 days after the baby came. This means, I haven’t gotten food from others every single night of the first week postpartum, but it does mean I’ve got help coming for a few weeks ahead. In between the meals brought in, we’re eating our freezer meals, leftovers and sandwiches. Easy peasy.
  4. Long, hot showers. I don’t normally like to dwell in the shower for long periods of time, but because no one has any real expectations of me this week, I’m spending a lot of time in the shower, decompressing and luxuriating. #cheaptherapy
  5. Eat what you want. Whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your body just went through A LOT. Enjoy eating whatever, whenever, ensuring that you’re adequately hydrated and getting enough protein.
  6. If you don’t have it yet, sign up for Amazon Prime. Yeah, it’s $100, but for the first year of your baby’s life, you’ll be thinking of that money as well spent. Also, put those diapers onto your Subscribe and Save list and never worry about buying diapers again. Plus, you save some serious money!
  7. Break out a new toy for your other kids. We got our kids a LEGO DUPLO set and a Play Doh SetIf finances don’t allow it, see if a friend is willing to lend a toy for a month or so. New toys are great distraction for the pent up energy or potentially hard transition this might be for your other kids.
  8. Ask a friend to pick up your kids for a playdate. I’ve had a friend do this without my asking (she’s an angel!), and family members too. It makes all the difference to be able to enjoy a little one-on-one time with our third and final baby.
    1. If you don’t have friends to assist, consider paying a teen in the neighborhood $5/hour to come take any resident young children out to the local park or just in your yard once a day. Bonus point for timing this while baby and you nap.
    2. If you already have an established sitter, have her come over during the hardest part of your day (for me that would be the late afternoon when we’re trying to get dinner together).
  9. Clip-on LED Book LightThis little light lets me read at night in bed while breastfeeding without waking up Sam. I love it! And the price is awesome.
  10. Curb-side grocery pickup. Scheduled for when your partner is on his or her way home from work. We’ve used Kroger and Walmart.
  11. Stay organized with all the baby gear floating around by using storage baskets (these are good too!) to pick up here and there.
  12. Wearing a classic, comfy robe has kept me relaxed with easy breastfeeding access.
  13. This Magnesium Spray is still keeping me migraine free, even with crazy hormonal drops and swings.
  14. Keeping perspective. This baby phase, especially the newborn phase, is such a brief time. Sadly, it’s taken having three kids to truly realize this, but it’s also helping me to really soak in this special time for the final go around. Don’t wait until your third kid to enjoy all the precious moments that come from having a baby. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but also the most rewarding.

Week 1 Postpartum (C-Section Delivery)

My awesome sister-in-law Jenny wrote up some of her tips for surviving the first week postpartum, specific to having c-section deliveries.

I’ve had two c-sections–an emergency c-section delivering my older twins and a scheduled c-section delivering my youngest. The first thing I’ve learned from having two c-sections is that no matter how your baby enters the world, it is a miracle. My first c-section was a whirlwind! Since it was an emergency, I was put to sleep for my twins’ birth. However, with my third child, I was alert, the c-section was scheduled and I was able to hold my baby within minutes of him being born. I still think about those moments and how special his birth was. You can still enjoy intimate, beautiful moments after your baby is born, no matter how they are delivered.

  1. Ask your doctor to hold your baby up for you to see immediately after the birth. My doctor did this without me asking (but I’ve learned that isn’t always the norm), and I am so grateful that I was able to see my baby right before they whisked him away to he cleaned up and weighed.
  2. Make sure visitors are flexible and do what’s best for you. I felt extremely nauseous because of the spinal block and other medications during the hours after my c-sections. And of course everyone wanted to come see the baby right away. While I was completely open to any family or friend visits, I had to let visitors know I needed flexibility. I was sleepy during most of the visits and even had to kick people out momentarily, because I was feeling sick. People are there to see the baby (okay, maybe you too), but it’s okay if you sleep through the visits or need moments of extra space.
  3. Let your baby sleep in the nursery whenever possible. You need to rest as much as possible, so why not take advantage of the wonderful nurses to care for your baby? My third child refused to sleep in his bassinet for days (what newborn does that?) and the nurses took turns holding him through the night. What a life saver! I was able to get some sleep before returning home to my other children.
  4. Get up and get moving as soon as you can. I was able to get out of bed (with assistance) hours after my csection. It’s amazing how quickly your body can recover. Go for walks around the hospital floor and push your baby in the bassinet. It feels great to get up and out of bed.
  5. If your insurance covers it, stay at the hospital as long as you can. I really appreciated any and all help from the nurses and the extra rest really aided in my recovery.
  6. Accept any and all help.
  7. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Rest and your recovery will go much smoother.






5 thoughts on “How to Survive Your First Week Postpartum (Vaginal or C-Section Deliveries)

  1. Congratulations on the birth of your baby! It’s a long time ago that mine were babies – but I still remember them clearly – and yes a hot shower is one place you can have a few minutes to yourself!

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