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How To Navigate The Postpartum Shift

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo by Jennifer Emerling courtesy of Ergo Baby

Going from being (very) pregnant to having a newborn in your arms is a huge transition. To help navigate this postpartum shift, we tapped Erica Chidi to lend her best advice for new mamas. Listen up as the doula and founder of L.A.-based The Mama Circle offers you her top tips and tricks—from what to eat to how to free up those baby-carrying hands from time to time. (And don’t forget to forward your friends our 20+ Things You Can Do To Help A New Mother list while you’re at it!)

Go Lightly & Follow Your Babe
“Take it easy and rest as much as time allows. The trick? Follow your babe. Try sleeping when your babe sleeps. Short power naps during the day will restore your energy quickly and make attending to your little one in the wee hours of the morning much easier. If you’re not into naps, try what I call an ‘active-rest session’: Pop on an audio book (maybe that parenting book you didn’t get the time to read) and let your mind unfurl for a moment.”

Be Real
“Don’t expect yourself to be up and about getting everything done on your to-do list during those first few weeks. Sometimes, you might feel like you’ve done nothing else that day but feed your babe and sleep. That’s totally okay!”

“Let others know how they can best help you, including your partner. If your partner is going to be home with you during your maternity leave, consider delegating certain responsibilities to one another. It’s a great conversation to have before your babe even arrives. For example, you might handle the feeding, soothing, and diaper changes, and he or she can be responsible for baths, burping, and swaddling. Or you might take the daylight hours and your partner might do the nightshift. Setting tasks during the first few weeks helps instill parental confidence and will eventually transition into a fluid division of labor.”

Graze & Sip
“As your body heals and you begin to navigate life as a new mama, nourishing you body with healthful foods is key. However, sitting down and having a meal can be challenging. So, graze and sip—eat small, frequent meals and take in fluids, preferably right after you finish feeding your babe. The best way to ensure that this happens is to set up snack and water stations around the house. One in your bedroom, one where you find yourself feeding your babe most often, and another in the fridge. The snack station in the fridge should be easy to find—dedicate a section to it. That way, you won’t open the fridge and have to hunt around. Think high-protein, whole-grains, and good fats—nuts, cheese, avocado, dried fruit, raw bars, and other non-perishables are great options. Also, invest in a good water bottle with a straw, because nursing while sipping from a cup is not an easy feat. Trust.”

Wear Your Babe
“Wearing your babe is a wonderful way to bond. Plus, it allows you to go hands-free so you can multitask, which is a real confidence booster, especially if you have days on your own during the first few weeks. Soft wraps are great for newborns and structured carriers like an Ergo work well as your babe gets heavier.”

Talk About It
“No matter how your birth experience went, talk about it with your partner, your doula, therapist, or close friend. Tracing back through your memories of birth can be very cathartic.”

Visitors Are Welcome, But…
“Be selective. You will be inundated with love and requests to see you and your babe. However, make sure that whomever is coming over will be helpful and won’t mind running an errand or two or bringing some food. Consider limiting visitors during the first week or two while you adjust to your new normal. Also try and schedule visitors during a set block of time. Having people pop in all day at various times can be lovely, but it can also leave you feeling depleted and it disrupts the flow you’re starting to create with your babe.”

Treat Yourself
“Massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy—don’t hesitate to choose one of these options or blend them together. Bodywork and self-care practices will help you realign your energies and give you a boost that will help amplify your ability to be present for your babe, your partner, and yourself.”

Get Support
“If family and friends aren’t near by and you and your partner find yourselves feeling slightly overwhelmed, consider working with a postpartum doula. Her role is to help you transition into your new roles with confidence, she can help answer burning questions, provide breast-feeding support, make referrals, cook a meal, run errands, and look after the babe while you catch some shut eye or take a shower.”

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