Pregnancy and impending motherhood are one of life’s most significant experiences for most women. We plan everything down to the last onesie, but we find ourselves completely out of our element when it comes to holding space for ourselves to honor and heal our post-baby body. We need to have “postpartum boundaries” in place that are not meant to keep people out but to hold space for ourselves when we need to rest, deal with painful breasts or are doubled-over with after birth pains. That ‘sacred postpartum space’ is paramount for our healing.
Here’s what you need to know….
1. Plan for your recovery, do not just let it happen.
Most women do not know that a new mother’s body begins its transition back to its non-pregnant state hours after the placenta is birthed. Therefore, you should have a recovery plan in place 4-6 weeks before your estimated due date. The plan should encompass the new, nutritional post-baby body needs, personal care (body treatments, abdominal wrappings, food service providers), as well as the activities/events you should avoid or delay engaging in. Having a recuperation plan in place will give you peace-of-mind knowing that while you are adjusting to the newest little family member you are also making sure your recovery needs are met, thus avoiding postnatal depletion. Your plan should at the minimum encompass the first 0 to 6 weeks and ideally up to 3-4 months afterwards. Managing your recovery and helping your body heal should begin by Day 5 post-baby. Most new mothers are under the impression they have to wait until after the six-week medical check before they can begin managing their recovery. There is nothing further from the truth. Do not wait that long as it will weaken and prolong your recovery.
2. V-care, the first time.
The very first time you want to get clean after delivery, even if you’ve had a caesarean, use an herbal feminine wash specifically for after birth care, not a douche but a wash. The natural ingredients will undoubtedly have the healing benefits of anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, deodorizing, and promoting immediate wound healing. New mothers are more prone to infection at this time and need to protect the perineum area.
3. The digestive system, circulatory system, and metabolism stall after childbirth.
Foods that are gentle on the digestive system will serve you best ensuring continued absorption of nutrients and vitamins by your healing body. For example, if you are a cheese lover eating goats cheese vs. cow’s milk cheese is a better choice due to the molecules of goat dairy being smaller than cow dairy, which is easier for your digestive system to breakdown.
4. Water, bone broth, and herbal teas.
Water is needed, especially for breastfeeding; however, it is a diuretic and therefore doesn’t bring in any nutritional value. A new mother should diversify her liquid intake to include bone broths and herbal teas on top of water consumption 2-3 times each per day. Bone broths have ample nutritional benefits providing cartilage, collagen, gelatin, minerals and vitamins and is an overall healing tonic for your body. Teas that promote breastfeeding, shrink the womb, clear the after birth bleeding faster, and are helpful in alleviating postpartum blues, are the most beneficial teas for new mamas.
5. Wrapping your abdomen is very important.
During pregnancy a woman’s center of gravity shifts as her spine curves in a convex manner to accommodate her baby. The role a postpartum wrap plays is it speeds up the healing process with constant pressure on the abdomen area thus reducing recovery time. Properly designed postnatal body garments will provide 360 degree support to assist in abdominal wall muscle retraction, improve posture, stabilize loosened ligaments, and provide support to the torso while vital organs return to their pre-pregnancy position.
6. Helping your body release.
As mentioned, the circulatory system stalls after childbirth and then revs-up during weeks 2-4 post-baby when the body is releasing the retained fat and fluids that are no longer needed. To help this natural shedding process, circulation massages with oils infused with herbal ingredients that have ‘heaty’ or heat-inducing properties will help your body jumpstart the circulation allowing it to release more at a faster rate. Typically, the energy oil blends containing ingredients such as ginger, citronella, vetiver, pepper, lemon, blood orange, cinnamon and eucalyptus are a good choice.
7. Coping with afterbirth pains.
After pains are caused by the process of your womb contracting back to its pre-pregnant size. Applying infused heat to the abdominal area will help sooth such pains, but not completely. You can also place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen whenever you are laying down, sitting or sleeping – even when you aren’t having abdominal pains. Applied direct heat will sooth the pains and help the womb shrink faster.
8. The genius of the placenta.
Although in its ‘infancy’ western culture is embracing the genius of the placenta through encapsulation.
Noted benefits of placenta pills are: 1) Increase in general energy and production of breast milk. 2) Increase release of oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant. 3) Decrease likelihood of baby blues, post-natal depression, iron deficiency, insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Care and handling of your placenta must happen directly after giving birth; therefore, it is recommended that selection of a placenta encapsulator be chosen 4-6 weeks prior to your estimated due date. If arrangements aren’t made there is a real chance that your placenta will be thrown away as medical trash.
Valerie Lynn is the author of The Mommy Plan and founder of Post-Pregnancy Wellness. For more information on the New Mother Goddess recovery program register for a FREE consult with Valerie on Post-Pregnancy Wellness.