A Guide to postpartum care for the mother BY: JESSI LUNA
In my experience, I was so focused on getting myself through the actual act of child birth that I didn’t have much attention left for preparing for my postpartum time. I remember reading my childbirth books up until the postpartum section and stop, overwhelmed already with all the prenatal and birth information. I do think that there is really enough to keep up with, and so my goal in this article is to give you the essential postpartum information all in one place. Read this before birth, or save this article to give to a helper around you after birth. First and foremost keep this in mind: the role of the mother is to keep the baby alive, the role of the partner (and community) is to keep the mother alive. Even if you feel you are far from your family or you feel you may not have a supportive community around, put the call out to those around you. Women and mothers will hear you. All mothers have experienced the care needed in the postpartum time. Allow yourself to be taken care of.
If there is one thing you are able to do before you give birth, it’s identifying 1-3 people around you who can really dedicate some time and energy to assist in your healing. If you do not have personal friends or family around for that, look for a postpartum doula who is trained in these very services. I offer to you to use these practices below that helped me so much in this sacred time:
FOOD FOR THE MOTHER: In general, simple, warm, and mushy foods are best for immediately after birth. The body and abdominal region have just gone through quite a bit of work, so easy to digest foods with high calories and minerals are essential. Eat foods with lots of good fats, such as whole milk yogurt, avocado and soaked nuts (easier to digest). Keep taking your prenatal vitamins as long as you can, even throughout the first year postpartum. As one of your helpers to set up a meal train. This can be done via a text message group, spreadsheet, or by using the apps ****. Be sure every meal is covered by someone reliable for at least the first 1-2 weeks.
HERE WERE SOME OF MY FAVORITE MEALS:
Oatmeal: Warm oatmeal with hemp seeds, chia seeds, figs, dates, ghee, honey, bananas, and any other soaked nuts, seeds and fruit as desired. Add whole milk yogurt if desired.
Kitchari: boil 2 cups jasmine rice to 1 cup mung beans until mushy. Add water as needed. When ready, stir in ghee as desired.
Creamed Soups: boil and then liquify carrots and ginger, or potatoes and rosemary, or tomato and basil. Or create your own combo of a hearty vegetable and herb!
Ojas Drink: boil dates in water, then add almond milk, ginger and cinnamon. Serve warm and drink daily.
Ginger Lemon water: boil slices of ginger root for 10-15 minutes and allow to cool. Squeeze in lemon and a pinch of salt to taste. Serve room temperature.
Chamomile tea: this simple yet nourishing tea is what my body craved. Sometimes there’s no need to be fancy!
Water: Lots of water, you need about 3x more water when breastfeeding! Always drink at room temperature, not chilled.
BODY CARE: 1. Padsicles - Perfect for the immediate days after giving vaginal birth to calm and sooth your vagina What you’ll need:
100% aloe juice (not the drink with other additives)
Lavender essential oil
Extra long ‘night time’ pads
How to Prepare:
Mix 1:1 aloe with witch hazel, add lavender oil as desired. Pour into bottle.
Open the pad, keep the wrapper on the outside, and squirt the mixture onto the pad, back and forth 3-4 times
Close the pad back up and wrap in aluminum foil
Store in the freezer for at least 12 hours. These can also be done days in advance.
When you are ready to use one, take the pad out about 20-30 minutes before use.
2. Sits Baths - You can buy one at your local pharmacy, or use a plastic tub
Boil a mixture of herbs: comfrey, calendula, rosemary, lemongrass. Boil for about 20 minutes and allow to sit for at least 2-6 more hours. Depending on how much herbs you have, you may be able to boil for use a few times.
Add a few splashes of witch hazel
Add Epsom salts
Sit, and enjoy at least twice a day!
3. Herbal Baths - Essential for body, mind and spirit
Boil the same mixture of herbs and add to a hot bath. Comfrey, calendula and yarrow are three of the herbs that are so important in healing the body. If you don’t have all three then choose at least one. You may be able to find the dried herbs at your local health food store or order online.
Add lavender essential oil as desired
Add Epsom salts
Turn on some relaxing music and enjoy at least once a day
Using 100% witch hazel is what helped me the most (this is not the witch hazel with alcohol that you can find at your local pharmacy). I had to order online, or you may be able to find some at your local health food store or co-op. I put on extra witch hazel after each sits bath.
Natural Suppository: Wrap aluminum foil around the end of a pen to shape it, then take out the pen so you have a pill-sized pod. Fill with coconut oil and lavender mixture. Freeze. Use before going to bed at night.
REST AND SURROUNDINGS:
Golden Rule: Nap when the baby naps.
Morning Sleep: If you aren’t getting good sleep in the nighttime, I found it helpful for my partner to take our baby outside or just hold him for the first 1-2 hours in the morning. This allowed me to get some nourishing sleep for the day.
White Noise: I found having white noise helpful for Kai’s sleep. Some women choose to not use white noise, it is your choice. If you like, you can easily download or play via Spotify or another music player. Note that babies can’t hear much until around 2 weeks old, but it may be helpful for the mother’s sleep at any time!
Body Pillows: Keep using your prenatal body pillows to support the body and belly as they heal.
Abhyanga: Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic practice of gentle massage with various herbal-infused oils. Traditionally this is done as self-massage, but in your postpartum days, your partner or a practitioner can offer this! Allow yourself to take a moment for yourself and receive. This can be so hard as a new mother. Taking time to receive a massage not only benefits your physical and physiological body, but also your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Choose who you want around you when. I saved this for last, but it’s really so important. You as the mother have the power to choose how you would like this sacred time spent. You may choose to have no visitors. You may choose to only have visitors at certain hours. You may choose to have a rule that no one holds the baby, or only immediate family holds the baby. You have the power to choose. You will not hurt anyone’s feelings, and if you do they will get over it, because it all comes back to the fact that your primary duty in this time is to keep your baby alive, happy and healthy! You can only do that when you are also happy and healthy. Use your voice, ask for what you need, and allow yourself to be taken care of. You deserve it.