I am devastated by the standard of care our society provides to postpartum women. In an ideal world, women would not need to “take charge of their postpartum” and instead would be naturally cared for by the instinctual nature of society and support systems that could allow new mothers to take a well-deserved, paid pause.
Unfortunately, it is still up to many women to “take charge” of their postpartum and educate themselves on how to move through this special, yet challenging transition with compassion and care. This is the reason I am passionate about supporting postpartum women because this is not a moment to walk through alone.
If you (or someone you know) is postpartum or soon-to-be, please take a few moments to empower yourself with knowledge on how to move through this sacred time.
I have seen many moms spend all their time and energy preparing for a healthy pregnancy and birth but then overlook the postpartum period. While it won’t ever be “easy,” there are some steps you can take to walk through this period with compassion and ease so you can emerge out of your cocoon, with your baby in tow, and into the rest of your life as a mom with your cup (at least) half-full.
Here are 10 ways a postpartum mother can thrive during this unique window of time.
1. Create a nest for yourself at home.
Think about where you will spend most of your time feeding and soothing baby. Perhaps revamp the space to be sure it is comfortable, warm, welcoming, and functional. For many moms, this means a big comfy chair with blankets and pillows and a side table stocked with your favorite lotions, oils, teas, snacks, and tons of pillows. I know lots of moms that place new house plants for the bedroom to bring some life and freshness into space. Do whatever inspires you to cozy up and feel nurtured.
2. Eat warming foods.
Warming food and drinks help heal your body faster as you recover from pregnancy and birth. As your organs rearrange to where they usually are, and your digestive system kicks back into gear, warm foods are easier to digest and typically full of nutrients.
Avoid cold and raw foods and drinks, which can lead to constipation and a slower physical recovery. For more information on this wisdom (and recipes) I highly recommend reading The First Forty Days.
3. Ask a friend or family member to arrange a meal sign up.
Mealtrain.com is a great resource. Send it out to your neighbors, family, colleagues and anyone who attended your baby shower. I love this tool because you can specify the days and times of the week you would like a meal and can indicate food preferences and allergies. Better yet, post a link to some of the recipes included in The First Forty Days and ask your village to bring you healing foods.
4. Prepare bone broth (or veg broth) ahead of time and freeze it.
Broth is one of the most healing and nurturing foods you can consume postpartum. Use the broth to make a variety of soups. Here is a recipe I like.
5. Consider investing in some extra help during your postpartum.
If you can allocate some funds to hire a housecleaner, meal delivery service, postpartum doula, or in-home massage therapist, this is the time. Sometimes I think about how much money we save up for weddings, yet hardly any of us save up for extra care after having a child. Believe me, this is a time where spending money on services will give you a significant return on your investment.
Spend as much time resting as you can for the first two to three weeks postpartum. Let others take care of the house and older children. Your number one job is to heal, bond and care for your new baby.
There are few times in life you will be given this opportunity to cocoon. When your baby is this young their days and nights are confused, and time moves in a strange continuum blending the days together in a new way. Plan for this! Arrange help and set expectations for others on how you plan to rest during these weeks.
7. Drink herbal teas.
The warming effect, hydration and herbs will be very healing. Traditionally in many cultures, it is said that drinking cold water when postpartum is problematic for a healing body. As your reproductive system returns to its pre-pregnancy state, cold in the abdominal area can slow the circulation of blood, delaying repair.
Drink room temperature lemon water and warm a few cups of herbal tea every day, like fenugreek, which is a wonderful spice for lactation. Other nice blends are ginger, turmeric, and honey.
8. Nap when you can.
You hear this all the time, and that is because it is important. Give yourself permission (especially in the first 40 days postpartum) to rest and let other obligations go. You will always have a house to clean, dishes to do, thank you notes to write, and friends to see. What you only get once is basking in the glow of your newborn baby. Better yet, the more you take care of yourself now, the stronger you will be when your postpartum is over, and it’s time to take on the world again, but now with a baby in tow.
9. Contemplate your visitors.
Think about who you want to invite into your home and where you can draw boundaries. Invite visitors who are there to help support you rather than those who are only there to meet the baby. Save the “baby viewers” for after the first 40 days, if possible. For the visitors you are inviting into your home, be clear on what you need and how they can help. People appreciate a specific direction and genuinely want to be helpful!
10. If you are partnered, consider getting extra help the initial days your partner is back at work.
This would be a great time to hire a postpartum doula, nanny, invite a family member to stay with you or to have extra meals delivered. If you have older children, arrange for them to be taken to school or daycare, especially the morning run. Getting out of the house before 11 am with a newborn is more challenging than you think!
Even if you are only able to implement one of these tips, baby steps are better than nothing. Contrary to what social media will have you think, motherhood is a metamorphosis—something you become over a period of time. Most women do not feel “like a mom” the day they give birth.
With the right postpartum care, you can blossom into motherhood at a natural pace and head back to the world strong and replenished. Skipping over this sacred time is what is causing so many mothers challenges lasting far beyond the first year of motherhood.
This article originally appears on Mamaste.