There's something about pregnancy that makes people go out of their way to be nice, areweright? But then baby comes and, well, the sweetness subsides. Which is such a bummer because you've just gone through one of the hugest physical and emotional transformations a human can go through, AND you've got a brand new baby at home.
To throw salt in our postpartum wounds, a new mom's care often stops 6 weeks after baby's arrival; the U.S. has some of the lowest paid maternity leave rates; 1 in 3 women have undiagnosed postpartum depression; and there's no standard protocal to track postpartum maternal health outcomes.
How 'bout a little postpartum love?
Maternal health advocate and midwife Rebecca Egbert's got your back. Her new app, Little Mother's Helper, and its companion deck of cards (yes, you heard us right), is an educational self-care kit for women from 6-weeks postpartum through the first year. It's filled with nuggets of wisdom, advice, tips and encouragement to make your journey a little bit more manageable, and organized by different areas of health: body, mind, heart and soul. The app and (deck) covers topics like the physiology of sex postpartum, “boob issues" (mastitis, engorgement, etc.) and even finding your mom wife. The words are few but meaningful, and the illustrations are adorable.
“I see the postpartum period as a crucial time for extra attention, because there is little to no emphasis on care. You're left to discover the information and what helps on you own," says Egbert. “If we start to focus on this period now, systemically, we will largely impact and improve the health and wellbeing of future generations to come."
Below, Egbert shares some of those valuable postpartum nuggets of wisdom to help a new mom's body, mind, heart and soul.
Body: For the first 4 months postpartum, refrain from doing high-impact activities, such as: running, horseback riding, high-impact workout classes, jump-roping, heavy weightlifting, and sex if it's painful (there are plenty of ways to be intimate). These activities put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor, increasing the risk of further weakness. This can lead to long-term or permanent incontinence and other issues. Consult a physical therapist, or trainer who specializes in postpartum recovery for exercise to help you retrain your pelvic muscle in early postpartum months.
Mind: Beyond receive professional care for maternal mental health issues, such as postpartum depression and anxiety, some things you can do everyday to help yourself follow:
● If your baby blues don't go away within 2 weeks and symptoms intensify, get professional help.
● Get up each day and take a shower.
● Get out of the house and do something, even just one thing, just for you.
● Talk about your feelings and experiences with your partner, friends, and family.
● Allow yourself to do less.
● SLEEP when the baby sleeps! Get adequate rest.
● Be really clear with your partner about how they can help you with chores around the house.
● Eat enough food, drink enough water, take care to get good nutrition
● Make time to get outside and get your Vitamin D!
● Get acupuncture and massage to help your anxiety.
Heart: Being new parents has a steep learning curve. One way to strengthen your relationship is to delegate tasks and responsibilities equally during the first year. Delegate tasks so that you both know you're in this together, such as chores, negotiating drop-off and pick-up committing to that schedule, and negotiate who does the grocery shopping, arranges childcare, etc. Delegating early will prevent resentment and stress resulting from unspoken feelings of inequality.
Soul: As you filter through the volumes of advice you'll get, remember to allow your heart to guide you to do what's best for you, your family, and your baby. Intuition can't be measured; it goes beyond science and into the soul. The secret: Trust that quiet voice deep inside. Trusting and believing in yourself is key!