You’ve done it. Your body has just spent nine months creating and birthing a baby! It might not feel like it now, but it’s an incredible achievement and one to be truly celebrated. But when the spotlight’s on caring for your beautiful new arrival, it’s hard to carve out time and energy for your postpartum recovery.
What Is Postpartum Care?
In some eastern cultures, a woman who’s just given birth tends to return home to live with her family, where she is looked after. This isn’t just about pampering, it’s an essential process for mother and baby to rest, recover and restore. Although this may not be possible for most western women, honoring what is known as the ‘fourth trimester’ promotes a quick physiological and emotional recovery after birth. We’ve put together some suggestions to support you as you navigate this momentous phase of your life.
Postpartum Physical Needs
Stock Up On Supplies – For Yourself
It’s way more fun to pick out cute baby outfits than maternity towels, breast pads and nipple cream, but you’ll be much more comfortable if you have these items, as well as a sitz bath (a warm, shallow bath that cleanses the perineum), witch hazel pads, arnica cream and numbing spray available at home. If you had an abdominal birth, ensure you have some loose, comfy clothing that allows your skin and scar to breathe.
The right fuel will help your body recover, and cope with tiredness and hormone changes. Eat nourishing, fiber-rich foods that aid digestion and prevent constipation, replenish minerals and increase milk supply, if you’re breastfeeding. Include lots of fruit and vegetables (canned and frozen is fine), slow-release carbs like wholewheat pasta and bread to keep you energized for longer, and high-quality meat or plant protein to deliver the amino acids required to help your body heal. If you can, batch cook and freeze meals in advance or ask friends and relatives to deliver food to you.
Rest. Then Rest Some More
Sleep as much as possible. No, really. We know newborns and sleep do not go hand in hand and sleep deprivation is pretty much inevitable. But finding ways to get a little extra sleep can make a big difference, not only in helping you heal physically but also in your mental state. Don’t feel bad for enlisting your partner to share in the nighttime feedings or wakings. Try to nap when your baby sleeps and don’t worry about letting things slide at home – your baby won’t care if the house is a mess!
Create A Cocoon
It hardly seems practical these days, particularly if you have other children, but it’s important to cocoon yourself from the outside world – visitors, shopping and daily life – for a period of time that works for you and your family. This is a vital time for bonding with your new baby. It also enables you to establish feeding, rest and recover. There’ll be plenty of time to receive company and introduce your little one later. Don’t be afraid to put in place boundaries that will keep well wishers at bay, just while you catch your breath.
Ask For Help
A rollercoaster of hormones, lack of sleep and adjusting to life with a newborn can be unsettling for all new mothers. But if you feel persistently hopeless, sad, isolated, irritable, worthless or anxious for more than two weeks’ postpartum, you may have postpartum depression. This is nothing to be ashamed of and is not your fault. Don’t suffer in silence – speak to a health professional who will be able to help you. Learn more about postpartum depression here.
Seek Feeding Support
Some women don’t have trouble breastfeeding. But those who had difficult pregnancies or deliveries are more likely to need help. If after two or three days, you’re in a lot of pain or your baby isn’t gaining weight, speak to a lactation consultant. Ask other parents or your child’s care provider for referrals or have a look at La Leche League USA. Do what is best for your family, and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to exclusively breastfeed.
It’s more than OK to supplement with formula or donated breast milk. Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, being comfortable makes it a whole lot easier. Try a DockATot feeding pillow, which curves around your body to support your baby or your arms during nursing sessions, helping you relax and bond. Oh, and it’s easy on the eye, too. Designed to look like a chic scatter cushion, it’s available in emerald, sand or indigo chambray as part of the fresh new Magical Gardens range.
Relax And Enjoy The Ride
The postpartum period is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Take each day as it comes and don’t compare your progress to others – all mothers are on their own journey. Eat, sleep and feed your baby. If you’ve done all that, you’re winning.For more postpartum care advice, visit our blog.