What Do I Need Postpartum? Top 3 ways to have your best postpartum recovery by an L&D Nurse
The truth about birth is there is not enough postpartum preparation and recovery for a new mother. There also isn’t enough about postpartum nutrition. I’m not a postpartum nutritionist, postpartum nutrition dietitian, or a postpartum personal trainer but I have my Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Certification so it is a special area of interest for me.
Other than teaching a postpartum mother important health concerns after birth such as blood clots, hemorrhaging, postpartum depression, and possible postpartum preeclampsia a woman may find herself feeling lost and confused on her postpartum journey. This is because that is not enough information one needs as they head into their 4th trimester.
Today, women are sent home to figure it out on their own and many new mothers do not realize that all the issues you thought would go away after birth don’t. New mothers find themselves in a state of exhaustion, confusion, and totally unprepared for the feelings they experience in postpartum. They often are left asking…why didn’t anyone tell me?
So much of having children focuses primarily on pregnancy and birth. Postpartum seems to be just an afterthought. But CDC research shows about 1 in 8 women with a recent live birth experience symptoms experience postpartum depression, it really does have a huge impact on a new mothers mental health. Understanding The Invisible Process at Birth will also help your transition into postpartum and your fourth trimester.
My thoughts always go to the idea that this time in postpartum must be protected and treated as sacred as it was meant to be. There is a word in Swahili “mamatoto” or “motherbaby”. This means mother and baby are interconnected and interdependent physically, energetically, and spiritually in the early postpartum months and I believe in an ayurvedic postpartum care plan.
So what are my top nuggets that don’t get enough attention in the postpartum continuum? Set up your Postpartum Sanctuary early, before pregnancy if possible but definitely before birth. Just because your baby is no longer in your belly it doesn’t mean your energy and emotional systems are separated. You are recalibrating and your baby is discovering their nervous system while you both are exploring the new experience of baby being earthside now. Keeping a calm and peaceful home will provide the ideal recovery that helps hormones balance such as Oxytocin: More than meets the eye and prolactin the hormone of motherhood.
Like real rest- for both parents. Prior to pregnancy if at all possible you should set up a support system for you in postpartum. You can not be afraid to ask for help when it comes to really understanding what your body needs after you give birth. Our body heals while we sleep and a lot of postpartum is about healing from a huge shift that happens after birth. I can’t stress this enough; postpartum must have respect when it comes to rest with a postpartum recovery plan. Setting up at least 6 weeks of help for postpartum prior to birth - prior to pregnancy is even better because it gives you more time to sort out details. Some people spend over a year planning their wedding, why wouldn’t you plan for your postpartum with just as much thought and detail?
Because NOBODY warns you how difficult it can be! Everyone wants to be a hero and do it on their own because you just don’t anticipate the struggle (thanks to instagram and others who make “bouncing back” the priority), or maybe you just don’t have a community of support. If this is the case there are postpartum doulas that can be available to help you in your 4th trimester. If you have to choose between a birth doula and a postpartum doula you may want to seriously consider the postpartum doula and really do your research and soul searching. Postpartum includes everyone regardless of how you gave birth.
Your body took around 40 weeks to grow a new life inside of it, now it will take time to shift into a body that is no longer sustaining an extra load. This takes time and it is different for everyone. The idea that you should be “all better” in 6 weeks is just unrealistic for everyone. This is the time to listen to your body and know that it is still working on recovery and feeding a new life (for those who are breastfeeding). Your body may need extra important nutrients like protein and collagen.
Food is medicine…. Don’t forget this, everything you decide to eat can make the difference and there are many postpartum healing foods to learn about. Preparing a postpartum meal beforehand that is rich in nutrients and easy to heat up will help you make better food choices when you are too tired to care. This takes time and I would recommend getting help with the preparation. Starting with a food train from your family and friends for about a month is a good way to start your 4th trimester journey. However, it is very important to give those who want to make meals for you a menu they can choose that includes all the nutrients you need. The First Forty Days is a great postpartum cookbook and resource for a 40 day postpartum diet.
There is way too much emphasis on fitting back into your old clothes and not enough on embracing your new powerful motherly body. Rest is more important than fitness at any age and stage of life and fitness is dependent on the level you were at before and during pregnancy. Give your body a break and admire the strength it took to grow the life you now hold in your arms, or the way it has the ability to nourish your baby with your breastmilk.
Accepting your new curves, larger breasts, stretch marks is all a sign of accomplishment. Stress increases your cortisol which likes to deposit in your belly so, the less you stress the less belly fat you will accumulate. Walking is one of the easiest and most beneficial exercises you can do, you do not have to worry about “getting back into the gym” even if you were committed all the way up until birth. I don’t care who you are, once your body has to shift into postpartum, create breastmilk, decrease the size of your uterus, remove hormones that are no longer needed, repair any tears that occurred in birth you must respect that.
Give yourself a true recovery time and after your provider gives you the green light, listen to your body- not your fretting brain about how you should look now that you have given birth. Your body will guide you and if you listen you will begin to become the woman you envisioned in the time that works just right for your body.
Hi, I'm Marya Eddaifi
I was only 22 when I had my son. It wasn't the best experience but I didn't know better.
It wasn’t until after I became a Labor and Delivery nurse did I realize how badly I was treated and grieved over my birth. Did I tell you this was 15 years later?
After realizing how nurses and medical providers impact such a huge life event, it became my mission to change the world through beautiful birth experiences!