March 2015: I was in so much pain here. Don’t let this smile fool you. LOL

It seems like only yesterday I was sleeping on the sofa sitting up, stomach out to there, feet swollen, back bones – non-existent. Even though the end of a pregnancy can be super tough on a woman’s body, there are still things she has to endure once the baby arrives (Hello, hormones?!).

While most people focused on a birthing plan, I focused more on my post-pregnancy plan to help me bounce back to my normal self, quicker and easier. Birthing plans are nice and all, but let’s be clear: you still have no control over when the baby wants to show up on the scene in the place to be. However, once baby gets here, it’s fair game to have a few things in place to make sure you can function like a human (most days) and hopefully get back to yourself. Today I’m sharing my list of things I planned in hopes of having post-partum success.*

1.Belly Binding

I had to have a cesarean when giving birth to Laila (You can read my entire birth story here), so I knew the recovery process would be a lot longer. I started reading articles about recovery and several suggested belly binding. In many cultures, it’s custom for women to bind their tummies after giving birth for a host of reasons. Here are a few:

-Helps with/reduces risk of Diastasis Recti (separation of rectus abdominis muscles)
-Helps with pelvic support
-Helps with back support
-Helps with getting back to post-baby body quicker

Initially I purchased this belly binder, but clearly after giving birth my stomach wouldn’t even allow the Velcro to reach that far to touch. Instead, I asked my doctor to order me a medical-grade binder in the hospital to get the process started! Two days after giving birth, I was in my binder. Once it was too big, I transitioned to the one I purchased. Once that was too big, I bought another one that was smaller.

Related: Laila – My Birth Story

2. Placenta Encapsulation

Before you gag, hear me out. Call me “Mother Earth” or whatever, but I started researching the technique to find out the benefits of ingesting your placenta. I know, I know. What?! Why? The initial idea came after my mother explained to me that she suffered with post-partum depression after giving birth to my younger brother, so I felt maybe this was the move for me. I knew off the bat I was not a smoothie/truffles/put it in your food kind of girl. Yikes! However, there are methods to break it down into powdered capsules. Here are some benefits:

-Increases milk supply
-Balances hormones
-Helps prevent “baby blues”
-Increases energy
-Reduces post-partum bleeding
-Increases iron levels

For me, my capsules did all that and then some. I worked with this company and they were super professional & helpful in getting the process together for me. They came to the hospital for pickup and came back within 48 hours with everything! Three days after giving birth, after leaving the hospital and having a host of nurses and everyone around me, I got home and had a complete meltdown. I can’t describe it. It was unlike anything I went through before. One minute I was fine, the next I was balled up in a corner crying uncontrollably. J reminded me of the capsules that the company delivered to the hospital for me and told me to take them. I did an immediately felt better and a burst of energy. Each day I took the amount I felt I needed. My supply lasted for about 3 months (“4th trimester”) and allowed me to feel like normal self going forward.

Absolutely the BEST DECISION EVER. I would absolutely do this again and highly encourage my girlfriends to use it/look into the process.

Related: The Dad Hospital Bag

3. Be Kind to Thyself

This is not a physical item like the other two, but it’s a mindset I took from the moment I laid eyes on my child. No matter what my body looked like, be nice to yourself!

During pregnancy, you go through an immense amount of changes to your physical body, as well as your mental state. And for my know-it-alls out there, when the baby arrives, it’s even more of a different state! I realized that giving life changes your current life completely, so be kind to yourself. I didn’t force myself to “hurry and lose the weight” or “OMG my stomach looks like played in Play-doh.” I focused on making sure I bonded with baby, took care of myself and ate healthy, got rest when I could, & took my placenta and vitamins every day. It was incredibly freeing to not have to wake up and beat myself up. It took me 10 months to gain 31 lbs. so it wasn’t going to be overnight to get it off. I firmly believe taking this approach, along with the first two points above & nursing, helped me lose my baby weight.

For all my mamas out there, please be kind to yourself! You have 10 ka’jillion billion other things to worry about. The time to get your body back will be in no time.

*Note: I am not a medical professional. The post-partum experience is different for every woman, so please see medical attention before taking the advice of anyone.

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