Preparing for postpartum is just as essential as preparing for pregnancy. For most new parents, and even second and third timers, the postpartum period can be tough. You’re sleep deprived, you’re recovering from your labour and birth, and you may not have the time, energy or motivation to eat well. And let’s not forget that if you’re breastfeeding, you’re still growing a human all on your own.
You need to be nurtured and nourished during your postpartum, and if you’re not, you may end up feeling very depleted, taking the joy out of the postpartum experience. So I’ve put together my top 5 tips for a more joyful postpartum experience, from my knowledge as a Naturopath and experience as a mother of two.
Yep. Plan for your postpartum the same way you planned for pregnancy. In your third trimester, think about all the things you might need support with such as; breastfeeding support, newborn health advice, newborn and infant sleep pattern information, meals, babysitting, a crying buddy, someone to make you cups of tea etc. You get the idea.
Have your list of support people handy for example; a lactation consultant, a GP, a postpartum doula and a naturopath. By planning in advance you’re going to feel more confident knowing that if issues do arise, you’ve got a list of people you can call on quickly.
Outsource, outsource, outsource!
As I say to all my pregnant clients, learn to outsource! Most family and friends are more than happy to help you during your postpartum, they just need to be told how.
So, gather your friends and ask them to organise a meal train (all your friends make a meal for you each week for a number of weeks). Ask a family member to deliver you groceries and other essential items.
Identify what you need help with and then identify who will help you. I highly recommend you think about this before the postpartum hormones kick in and you start experiencing ‘baby brain’ 😉
Get your nutritional status in tip top shape
Eating well during pregnancy not only provides nutrients for your growing baby, it also helps to prepare you for your postpartum. Optimal nutrition during postpartum will support your energy levels, your thyroid health, your hormone production and regulation, as well as provide you with the essential nutrients to support neurotransmitter synthesis (feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine).
Often your midwife or obstetrician will schedule a blood test to check your iron levels around 26 weeks of pregnancy, I also like to check Vitamin D (as it’s often low) and potentially other key nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and Folate, depending on what your diet and lifestyle has been like during your pregnancy.
I often use nutritional supplementation during pregnancy to support your nutritional needs (most pregnant clients will need a basic prenatal nutritional supplement), and during your third trimester, I will often add in some further supplements and potentially herbal medicines (if required) to reduce the risk of you feeling depleted during your postpartum.
So, don’t forget your pregnancy vitamins and appropriate herbs in postpartum – you’re still growing a human and even if you’re not breastfeeding, the sleep deprivation is still very real.
Make exercise and movement a part of your daily routine (preferably outside)
I’ll preface this by saying the intention of exercise and movement is not to get your body to ‘bounce back’ after birth, I recommend it to support your mood, your digestion, your detoxification organs and your general health.
In those first few weeks after birth, you probably won’t feel like, or be physically up to doing any intense physical exercise, and I certainly wouldn’t advise that in any case. Generally speaking you can return to exercise 6 weeks post vaginal birth and 12 weeks post caesarean birth. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t engage in any movement at all.
If possible, I would aim to get outside early in the morning, to get that dose of fresh air and sunshine (hopefully) that supports you and your baby’s circadian rhythm (body clock), as well as your mood. You might just do some gentle stretches outside or go for a short walk.
When you feel more physically able to take on extra exercise, you could start with some gentle post-natal yoga, pilates or online home workouts.
Be gentle with yourself
Whether you’re a first time parent or more experienced, your postpartum experience will be unique and this is because every baby is different. Some sleep well, others are wakeful. Some only cry if they need something, others cry a lot for no apparent reason. Some like to be held close to you at all times, others want to be free to move around.
Postpartum is a practise in letting go. Letting go of your expectations of yourself and your baby. Letting go of comparisons of other parents who seemingly manage better (it’s often not the case). And letting go of the need to feel productive (this was a tough one for me). Most things can wait while you enjoy those precious newborn snuggles.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful for you. I absolutely love supporting parents during their postpartum journey, so please do get in touch if I can support your health and well-being during this amazing time in your life.
In good health,