Prepare For The Postpartum Period
A postpartum period or postnatal period is the period beginning immediately after the birth of a child and extending for about six weeks. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the postpartum period as the most critical and yet the most neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies. The postpartum period can be a trying time- there are sleepless nights, hormones causing your emotions to range from anger and depression to exhilaration and joy and the physical healing that needs to happen after a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. Having a plan for the first six weeks of your life as mother is critical for your health and healing.
Do I Have A Good Support System?
Postpartum care will be different for every woman and family but you still need to ask yourself if you have friends or family that will come along side you with the support that you will need. Having a support system that will bring meals, get groceries, clean your house, offer a listening ear and caring hugs Is so important during those first six weeks. Your focus during those weeks should be to bond with your baby, build your milk supply if you are breastfeeding, get as much sleep as possible, eat the healthiest, most nutrient dense foods that you can to speed healing and process the changes that have been made since becoming a mother. These things will be very hard if you don’t have a good support system.
If you don’t have a good support system, you are worried about asking too much from your support system or you simply feel like you need more support than your family or friends can offer look into hiring a postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas will help with light housekeeping, breastfeeding support, run errands and can watch baby so that you can rest. Each doula offers different packages and prices.
Health and Physical Healing
One of the biggest things you can do during your postpartum period is to eat nutrient dense foods that will help speed healing and keep your energy up.
Protein is essential to help repair and strengthen muscle. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen which helps to build muscle, tissue and hair. Extra Vitamin C will also give your immune system a boost during the tiring weeks of the postpartum period.
Iron Supplements can help you regain your energy quicker. Floradix is an iron supplement that is plant based and can be quickly absorbed into your body making for a quicker recovery than if you use a synthetic supplement. Water is also important during the postpartum recovery. Make sure that you are drinking at least eight cups per day. Some women find that they need to drink even more to keep their milk supply up.
*Fruits and Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that will help your body to recover from the demands of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing a newborn. The natural fiber they provide will also help your digestive system to get back to normal.
Go Easy On The Weight Loss Regime
Please don’t think about weight loss during the first six weeks after birth. Your body has gone through a lot to nurture and care for you and your baby and it needs care as you recover before stressing it to try and lose weight. Some women find that weight falls off easily while breastfeeding, others find they can’t lose weight, that some of it stays around until baby is weaned or that they may even gain weight while nursing. Each body is different and each body will deal with the demands of healing and nursing in different ways.
Gentle exercises are good during the postpartum period but please check with your doctor or midwife to make sure you are cleared for it. If you lose a larger amount of blood you may want to wait until after the first six weeks so your body can rebuild it’s iron stores. Walking and stretching are probably the best exercises to start with and they do not over stress your body.
Prepare a Nursing Basket. Include a water bottle, book, burp cloth, nursing pads, a nursing cover if you use one at home, magazines and snacks. Easy snacks to include would be high quality protein bars, dried fruits, nuts and dark chocolate.
Self-care During the Postpartum Period
If we aren’t caring for ourselves during the postpartum period it is easy to become fatigued and overwhelmed which can lead to depression. Besides the above suggestions to help your body heal here are some other things that you can do to ease your transition into motherhood.
*Wear pajamas or lounge wear at home
You will be nursing a lot and there will be frequent wake up calls in the night nursing or not. By wearing your pajamas or loungewear, especially if it is something that you do not normally wear during the day, will help remind you to rest and sleep when possible. It will also remind any visitors that you have that you need rest right now.
*Take any offer of help
If someone offers to bring food let them. If a visitor asks if they can do anything while they are at your house give them a job. Have someone pick up your groceries, run errands for you, etc.
*Make time for yourself
Have your husband take over the evening chores. He can manage the other children, set the table or just cuddle the baby (Dad’s need bonding time too!) while you take a bath or a shower, workout or do anything that refreshes you. If you are a single mom ask one of your support people to give you a break while you get some alone time.
*Put the fine china away
Use paper products for the first six weeks. It will make things so much easier. Even if you have a dishwasher it is easier to toss the plates in the garbage than to get things loaded and then unloaded and put away. If you don’t want to use paper products only wash the dishes once a day or have your partner do them in the evening or a visitor who wants to help.
There are so many more things we could talk about that will help you prepare for and have a healthy, healing postpartum period. But by using the ideas above you will be well on your way to having a wonderful first six weeks as a momma.