The transformation into motherhood is an incredibly powerful one. Your body's physiology changes with pregnancy, and the postpartum period is a time of great re-calibration. The stress and demands of a small child, maintaining a healthy relationship, returning to work and trying to get back into pre-baby shape can all seem very overwhelming. But, there are some basic self care tips that will make all the difference in the postpartum period, and taking the time to implement them will positively affect your health far beyond the 4th trimester.
Here are 4 holistic tips for postpartum wellness.
1. Eat. Most of the time, a new mom’s nutrition goes on the back burner, when it should be just as important as monitoring the new baby’s digestion. That's especially true if you are breastfeeding, which burns up to 600 extra calories a day. Foods that are rich in healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, are extremely beneficial. Blood-building foods like bone broth, high quality proteins and all the dark leafy greens are also a must for postpartum wellness. Place snack bowls around the house with healthy nuts and fruits and veggies and ask someone like your partner or family member to make it their job to help you eat well. Good nutrition makes all the difference in your overall energy, health and recovery.
2. Hire a postpartum doula. The benefits of a birth doula are widely spoken of. But a postpartum doula can be an amazing ally after birth, especially if it is your first child. Postpartum doulas are trained to specifically care for you, and they also are extremely knowledgeable about how to care for infants. Most postpartum doulas are holistically minded, help you determine what you might be missing in your overall self care and help support you in making your health a priority.
3. Be honest with people about what you need and how you are feeling. The joy and happiness of a new baby is clear, but that doesn't always translate into you feeling great. Mothers are often not honest about the difficulty that they are experiencing. Our culture emphasizes the new baby and expects mom to power through the first year of a child’s life. Postpartum suicide is the second cause of death in women the year after birth. Your psychological and spiritual health is important. If you find yourself feeling depressed and unhappy, tell someone and reach out for help.
4. Ease back into exercise. Blood is the essential substance of pregnancy and birth, and as a woman you use lots of the stuff. If you had a particularly complicated pregnancy or delivery, you are most likely blood deficient. Muscles require blood to work well. Heading back into a heavy exercise routine can deplete your body even more and leave you feeling exhausted. Plus, your chances of injury may also be higher. Restorative and therapeutic exercise, such as postpartum yoga and pilates, are a great place to begin before going back to your pre-pregnancy workout routine.
Dr Julie Von is a Manhattan-based holistic doctor specializing in fertility. Julie became one of the youngest people in the US to study Chinese medicine, receiving a Clinical Doctorate specializing in Women's Health and Infertility. Julie’s clinical work in New York City has spanned over a decade and has aligned her with some of the most advanced and well-known names in the field of fertility medicine.