The postpartum period begins right after the delivery of the baby and ends when the mother's body has almost returned to its pre-pregnancy state. This period usually lasts six to eight weeks.
In the days and weeks after your baby is born, it’s just as important to focus on yourself and your postpartum recovery as it is your bundle of joy. You’re exhausted, you’re sore in places you didn’t know could be sore, and you find yourself crying but have no idea why.
Here are our top tips for postpartum self-care for the all-natural mama!
It’s so important to stay hydrated when you’re recovering and establishing your milk supply, so drink lots of water, all day long. Water will also boost your energy levels and help keep away at least one dreaded postpartum side-effect - constipation.
It will also help keep your skin, the body’s largest organ, hydrated. When it’s hydrated, it becomes more supple and can rejuvenate more easily; helping to fade stretch marks.
Getting dressed after having a baby is not as easy as throwing on our pre-pregnancy clothes, and maternity clothes aren’t any better after a week or two postpartum. Your everyday outfit could consist of leggings, a nursing tank and a loose-fitting top.
It can be hard to leave your baby even just for the 10-15 minutes it takes to shower, but those quiet minutes can be magical and really help to lift your mood. Either pull your bouncer seat into the bathroom for your babe, or ask your partner or friend could take over.
Opt for natural-based shower gels, shampoos and conditioners which are free from harsh chemicals to help your skin bounce back to normality. Look for products which contain nourishing ingredients such as almond oil and rosehip oil.
Whether you’re having your first or fourth baby, the best way to eliminate that hit-by-a-truck postpartum feeling is to encapsulate and take your placenta! You will be amazed at the impact it has on your recovery.
Sprays for ‘down below’
Ditch the pain-relieving sprays with less-than-ideal ingredients for natural products instead. They’ll help to soothe sore lady parts, speed up the healing process and make you feel so much better.
Every new parent soon learns that babies have different body clocks than adults. Although a solid eight hours of sleep for you may not happen again for several months, the following suggestions can help you get more rest:
- You need to be relieved of all responsibilities other than feeding the baby and taking care of yourself. Share the load with your partner, family and friends as much as possible.
- Save steps and time. Have your baby's bed near yours for feedings at night.
- Get outside for a few minutes each day. You can begin walking and doing postpartum exercises, as advised by your healthcare provider.
- After the first two to three weeks, introduce a bottle to breastfed babies for an occasional nighttime feeding. This way, someone else can feed the baby, and you can have a longer period of uninterrupted sleep.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be only a few minutes of rest several times a day, but these minutes can soon add up.
Maintaining a healthy diet helps to promote healing and recovery, and gives you the energy to stay active enough to care for your baby properly. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, make sure your postpartum diet includes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, calcium and protein.
Getting outside can clear the mind. You can bring your baby in a stroller or a wrap, but it’s ok to go alone, too, even if it’s just a few blocks.
Ask your partner to run you a bath with some lavender oil to really relax you after a long day with the baby.
Once you’ve dried off, message a few drops of rosehip oil over your tummy to help rejuvenate the skin and reduce stretch marks. Then, give your skin an extra burst of moisture by layering a hydrating body butter on top! Choose one which contains ingredients such as soothing aloe vera and softening shea butter for best results.
Many new parents enjoy regular visits from friends and family, but new mothers should not feel obligated to entertain every day. It’s okay to choose whether you want to limit the number of visitors you have or you may be more suited to ‘the more the merrier’.
Music / Dance
Put on your favourite playlist, crank up the volume and let go in your own personal dance party. The only person watching is your baby, and your baby thinks you’re the best no matter how you dance! Plus, this can be good for their developing senses.
Make time, a few times a day, to breathe in fresh air as deeply as you can, for a full five breaths, in and out. Everyone knows deep breaths are calming, but they also help relieve stress.
Try to live mindfully and be fully present in all you do. For example, when applying your facial oil in the morning, enjoy the process itself! Pay attention to the sensation of warming the oil between your palms, and the scent of the oil itself. Can you smell essential oils such as lavender and geranium? How does it feel when you gently massage it into your complexion?
Don’t rush the return back to ‘normal life’
It will come soon enough and rushing it can cause more stress. Chill out, embrace it and it will soon be back to how it was, just with one more little person joining in on everything!
Talk to other mummies
Social media is great, and has brought so many isolated parents a sense of community and connection. But if at all possible, try to get out of the house and hang out with people who are experiencing the same insane new mum life that you are. You can do this through breastfeeding support groups, hospital groups, playgroups and local parenting resource centres.
Be kind to yourself
The person you should be most kind to during the postpartum period is yourself. The most important thing you can do when you have a newborn is take it one day at a time and release yourself from those silly expectations. You are doing what you need to do to get through this and in your own way. Tell yourself this every day.
The most important thing to remember?
Incorporating these self-care practices into your daily routine can help you feel so much better and recover lots quicker. As mums, we often give everything of ourselves to our kids, families, and homes. Your body and emotions have been through a lot, sacrificing so much – your body, your sleep, your time – so be intentional about taking care of yourself during the postpartum phase mama. You deserve it!