Day 18 Family Life: My Postpartum Healing Plan
So many women focus heavily on their health during pregnancy and then consider the baby’s health afterwards, but far too few women really make sure to assure themselves what is necessary to bring solid healing after giving birth. Let’s be real here…birth is no picnic, no matter how the final outcome looks, so it is very wise to have a plan for healing that truly benefits the mama.
I love my midwife. I’ve now worked with her for three births and I love her. She is an honorary member of the family. I have met a great friend because of her, through her practice. She is a great support and gentle guide and has been such a blessing to our family. I still remember one of the most significant and helpful things she could have ever said to me when we started working together 3 plus years ago, and it was regarding her after birth prescription for me. She said, “You need to stay upstairs, in your room, for the better part of a week. You are Queen of Sheba. You need to rest and bond with this baby.”
Now, for me, a complete control freak and likely household micromanager, that was an almost scary directive, but I complied. You know what? I healed faster than ever before, my mind was better able to handle the normal stresses of life more effectively once I returned to its paces, and I just felt overall great.
I have since added some additional elements of healing over the years, which I will cover, but this single one, if really taken to heart, is the greatest advice I could have ever heard, and now offer. If you don’t have a support system built in at home to accommodate this, plan and take steps in advance to set one up for after birth. Even a postpartum doula would be an amazing investment! You want, and need, help after having a baby, so welcome it, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Here are some of my other recommendations for postpartum healing:
A. Eat healing, nourishing, nutritious meals. Get plenty of protein, fiber, and colors of the rainbow in produce to help replenish and restore your body’s energy and reserves. A homemade lentil soup with chicken is a great option for this goal. Pair it with a salad and you’re all set!
B. Drink lots of water. Remember, you are bleeding and have just lost a good amount of your body’s fluids right along with the baby, so replacing that water is a critical element in postpartum healing. Tea is another great option, and it may be quite appealing if your throat is sore from labor and birth noises.
C. Take 2000-3000 mg Vitamin C to help with healing. Vitamin C is an awesome aid for the immune system. It offers a great addition to the healing plan!
D. Use the AfterEase herbal supplement to help with afterbirth pains. This is a fairly new addition to my home birth arsenal, but it is super helpful. A dropper full or two under the tongue every few hours helps to lessen the pains and quicken the healing time after giving birth. Now, warning…the liquid burns a bit under the tongue, so you want to take the dropper fil, hold it under the tongue as long as you can before it burns too much, and then chase it with a drink. Voila!
E. Take homeopathic Arnica to reduce swelling in the perineum and help with healing. Arnica is a commonly used homeopathic remedy for trauma treatment, and it works beautifully with birth. 5 pellets under the tongue every 2-3 hours during the day for a week or so is recommended.
F. Continue to take a Prenatal Vitamin. Just because your baby is on the outside does not mean you no longer need your prenatal. This is especially true for the breastfeeding mommy. A quality prenatal vitamin will help assure that both you and your baby are getting all the important nutrients you need in the days following birth.
G. Take a probiotic. Probiotics are an important factor for overall health, but following birth it can really be a lifesaver. If you’re birth took place in a hospital, it may be even more significant to help fight off any germs you were exposed to and to strengthen the number of good bacteria in the body and gut to keep you nice and healthy.
H. Take Vitamin D. Hopefully you had your Vitamin D levels checked during pregnancy, so if you did and your levels are below 50, an additional supplement is super helpful. 2000-6000 IUs is not overkill if you are deficient, but if your levels were just fine, your prenatal vitamin may already provide your daily recommended dosage, so be sure to check before adding this into your plan. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with all kinds of auto-immune disorders, so getting an adequate amount is of growing importance in our understanding…and since you really don’t want to be taking long walks in the sunlight right now, a supplement is most efficient.
I. Sleep. For some people this likely needs to be closer to the top, but make sure to get plenty of sleep as you can, especially during the first week postpartum. The baby will be a little less agitated most likely and sleep may be more available, even at odd times of the day, so try to embrace the opportunity to sleep and not misuse it by doing something “productive”. Those days will come, but right now sleep is essential. A note: I struggle in this area personally, because after giving birth I get a huge burst of energy and sleep is hard for me, so my goal is really to just sleep when I am tired and not try to push myself. If this needs to be your goal too, have at it!
J. Minimize company and exposure. Now is not the time to have all the family over to meet the newest addition. Aside from maybe a few close family members, if you are up for it, keep visitors to a minimum. This is for two reasons: 1. You need to rest as much as possible, so having regular interruptions and the potential feeling of “needing to entertain” is not a wise thing to bring into your mental situation, and 2. Both you and the baby have some level of a weakened immune system. You do because you are healing, and your baby does because they have very little immune system (I.e. A significant reason why breastfeeding is so critical for protection of a newborn). You don’t want lots of foreign hands and germs touching your baby right now. Give it a week or more and then welcome the visitors…and don’t feel badly about it. You’re now the mama bear, and one of your primary goals is baby protection. God made it this way for a reason. Embrace it =0)
K. Reduce or eliminate other household expectations. A few days of dishes, or a pile of laundry, will not kill you to be left alone. If you don’t have the help to get to these things, just let them be and get to them when you can. Household tasks are small cookies right now, so whatever is not essential does not need to be on the agenda. Bonding with and enjoying that baby are critical right now, especially for establishing a solid nursing relationship and building a healthy milk supply, so don’t let the little things get in the way. If you have to put a towel over it, or hide it in another room, to get it out of sight!!!
There you have it: my postpartum healing recommendations. Having a baby is no small thing, so taking steps to protect a transition and healing after it is one of the best things you can do to protect both you and your baby’s overall health. I truly believe that these steps will help you as much as they do me in your postpartum healing!