My top 10 postpartum healing tips, natural remedies, and advice to help new moms thrive after giving birth.
Guest post by Colleen Hunt from Naturally Nested Maternal Services
I see it all the time as a certified doula. A family comes home with a brand new baby and for the next 6 weeks that baby undergoes multiple assessments for limb function, reflexes, weight gain, hearing, and more. Now, this is all wonderful- truly! But what about mom? What about the woman who just spent 9 months growing a human and who-knows-how-long giving birth to that human?
Unless there is an obvious cause, that mother will likely not be assessed by a medical professional until 6 weeks after her baby is born. Can you believe it? Six whole weeks! The problem is that postpartum mood disorders aren’t always obvious. Infections aren’t always obvious. Malnourishment, exhaustion, and inflammation aren’t always obvious. As a result, many women are left struggling and alone for far too long.
My husband and I were thrilled to announce our pregnancy with our son, Samwise, back in 2016. I had been looking forward to motherhood my entire life! I thought I knew everything there was to know about being a parent. I mean, how hard could it be? You feed the baby, burp the baby, change the baby’s diaper, snuggle the baby… Easy, right?
Wrong. No warned me about how much pain I would be in after a 3 day labour ending with an episiotomy. No one warned me that my son wouldn’t be breathing when he was born. No one warned me that he would have jaundice and be at risk of failure to thrive when he was just 2 weeks old. No one warned me about postpartum anxiety or the emotional turmoil I would feel towards a breastfeeding relationship that would never meet my expectations. And for 6 weeks after my son was born, not a single medical professional even asked.
But we can’t end on that note because I want to make it clear that I don’t blame medical professionals for this gap in maternal care. I think there are many wonderful midwives, nurses and doctors who truly want the best for their patients. But somewhere along the way, moms were forgotten which is why I became a certified doula- to prevent more mamas from being forgotten and to help families thrive in this vulnerable yet joyous season.
I should also tell you that our Samwise is now a happy and healthy 2 year old with a fierce love for cars, trucks, trains, and anything that goes!
Now, here is the takeaway. I want to leave you with some advice to help your family thrive in the postpartum because it is actually possible to have a blissful season with a newborn. So, these are my top 10 tips for thriving naturally during the postpartum period.
Ten Ways to Thrive Naturally in the Postpartum Period
1. Drink plenty high quality water. Living spring water is best type and you can find a spring near you by searching this excellent database. If it isn’t an option for you to retrieve your own spring water, research shows that solid carbon block and reverse osmosis filtration systems offer the most reliable means of obtaining clean water. How much should you be consuming? To maintain hydration, you want to consume a minimum of half your body weight in ounces. If you’re breastfeeding, it is recommended to drink at least 3 quarts of water a day. Remember that while you may be reaching for the caffeine in this sleepless season, caffeine can be dehydrating!
2. Make good use of your freezer and invest in a large slow cooker! Preparing meals in advance and freezing them or having quick and easy slow cooker recipes readily available will ensure you’re meeting all of your nutritional needs during the postpartum period. Include foods that are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, cobalt, molybdenum, and mangenese which are known to promote healing.
3. Know who you will turn to for support and have their contact information written down in a visible location. These are people who you would feel comfortable leaving your baby with while you shower, sleep, eat, or attend appointments. People you feel comfortable sharing your heart with. People who have experience, wisdom, or proper training to support your needs in this time.
4. Arnica and catnip tea are excellent tools for pain management.
5. Organic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and bleach free pads with ultra absorbency. This is important while you’re healing from childbirth because you really don’t want any chemicals interfering with your body’s natural process.
6. Perineal spray and/or padsicles. I recommend the perineal spray made by Earth Mama Organics but there may be other brands worth investigating in your area. Padsicles are another great option for soothing pain and promoting healing. They are essentially frozen pads that have been saturated with ingredients known to promote healing of the perineal area. There are a variety of ways you can make them. You can either use your perineal spray or try this DIY recipe!
1. Unfold your sanitary pads. If they have wings, you’ll need to remove the tabs but don’t toss them yet because we’ll be putting them back on.
Saturate your pads with the witch hazel. You want to use lots!
2. Spread a thick layer of aloe vera gel on top of each pad.
3. Add 2-3 drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil and spread across each pad.
4. Carefully refold your pads, place them in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer.
*Make sure to let each pad thaw slightly before using.
7. Psyllium husk capsules or powder. Psyllium is a soluble fibre which means that it absorbs water and softens stools to make them easier for elimination. This, or any kind of laxative, is helpful because that first bowel movement after giving birth might be uncomfortable. Remember how important it is to stay well hydrated while using laxatives!
8. Postpartum donut pillows. These aren’t necessary (you can easily take a towel, roll it up, and then twist it to form a circle) but they can help relieve pressure off your tender bottom while sitting down.
9. For all you cesarean section mamas out there, search for a vitamin E topical solution that you can apply to your incision after it has healed. Learn how to properly massage your incision from a trained medical professional and know the signs of infection!
10. Work with a Maternal Support Practitioner! Also known as a doula, we provide support to families who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or in the early postpartum period. Our role is to empower clients with the information, confidence, and resources that you need to make informed choices for yourself and your family. A Maternal Support Practitioner can be there in those early days of adjusting to life with a new baby. At Naturally Nested, our goal is to help your family thrive! All of our Maternal Support Practitioners are trained to offer infant feeding support to families in the postpartum period as well.
Written by Colleen Hunt from Naturally Nested Maternal Services
Photos by Rachel Hannigan Photography