Thank GOD you have finally had the baby!
No more pain in the lower back, you can get up and down from the couch easily and you can eat whatever food you like again without the risk of salmonella, reflux or throwing up! Now that the baby is here you can go back to feeling normal again – right?
WRONG! To be honest for most mamas they feel like they have been hit by a bus in those first few weeks after bub comes home!
Carrying a baby for 9+mths and then birthing (no matter which way they arrive) is the most intense experience a woman can go through – even if it is serene and calm. So, it is imperative that we acknowledge the rite of passage and give it some space to sink in.
Traditional cultures get it right – they look after their new mamas by inviting aunts, grandmothers, sisters or cousins to be on standby to help tend to mama’s needs and make sure she and baby are doing okay and resting and recuperating. There is always someone on hand to help, or do the jobs that need doing. Some mamas here in Australia are lucky to have their mum or sisters around to help out. But what happens to a mum that has emigrated or has no family close by? Or what if they feel like they can’t possibly ask a neighbour for help?
If you want to THRIVE in the postnatal weeks (and not merely survive with baby-spew stains, hair a mess and a sore neck) then here are my top 5 #postnatalhacks to make it through the postnatal period in one piece
- Make sure the food you eat is healthy for you.
It is hard to make sure you feed yourself at all, let alone feed yourself well in the first few weeks when your full attention is on your new baby. Many mums reach for easy to make foods like pasta and toast, and wonder why they feel sluggish and tired. Feeding yourself well will help your energy levels, your milk supply and your mental health. It is worth putting 1% of your focus into buying well at the grocery store and making sure you have snacks that you can eat with one hand (fruit salad already cut up, protein balls, smoothies to name a few).
There are many women who suffer with food intolerance prior to having a baby, then during pregnancy seem “fine” and then are shocked to realise that their food intolerances have returned after baby arrives. If you notice a food intolerance (gas, bloating, nausea, hives, rash, headaches, diarrhea etc) then pay attention to it! It will not magically disappear, and you MUST address it at some point. So if you think that you must eat milk for calcium, but you know it doesn’t sit right in your gut, avoid it for a while – and allow your body to settle down. (Take a calcium supplement if you are really concerned about it). If you know that eating tomatoes makes you feel sick (even though you like it) then avoid it to stop feeling sick. Sometimes “healthy food” is not healthy for you at a particular time in your life. Learn to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. It won’t be forever, just for a time.
If possible ask friends to bring a fruit salad or a stir fry instead of a baby gift in the first few weeks (let’s face it, how many muslin wraps and baby toys do you really need?) A meal you can reheat, or a healthful snack you can enjoy while your friend gives baby a cuddle is a much better gift, don’t you think?
- Drink loads of water – I’m not a coffee drinker, so this one is easy for me, but you who indulge in the “liquid gold” will know that caffeine affects your mood, your energy levels and your milk supply. Stay away from it – you were avoiding it in pregnancy anyway (right?) So if you feel like you “need a coffee to wake up” this is a good indication it isn’t good for you, so stop it now! And don’t switch to decaf – for goodness’ sake, decaf is worse…. it’s not what nature intended, so just avoid it altogether. Allow your hormones to rebalance and find a natural rhythm with sleep and wake cycles without messing it all up with coffee.
Drinking water will help you digest your food better, will nourish every part of your body, will help with flushing out toxins and drugs from labour, will help with aching muscles, will help you feel more energetic, will help you think more clearly, will help stop sugar cravings (which helps you lose baby weight)….need I go on?
And those who drink soft drink – I haven’t forgotten you either! Soft drink has zero nutritional value, and is in fact VERY bad for you. It is liquid lollies. Stop it. I have nothing else to say on this.
Okay so drink water. At least 2.5L per day if you are an average sized. A little more if you are bigger than average or it is summer. And if you are feeding make sure there is a glass of water in an easy to reach position. This will give you an 8 glasses of water per day (if you are feeding every 3 hours). Filtered water is best, so invest in a purifier for the home and teach your kids early on the importance of clean, filtered drinking water.
This isn’t rocket science. You already know this. So just do it. And feel better J
Adding a drop of dōTERRA lemon, lime or grapefruit essential oil will freshen the taste and purify the water at the same time. Did you know that Grapefruit oil can help with easing inflammation, weight gain, and sugar cravings and is considered a natural stress-fighter, anti-inflammatory,antioxidant and anticarcinogenic? Just one drop in a 1litre of water every day can make a huge positive impact on your health.
Do you need to INCREASE your milk supply? I recommend 3 fantastic essential oils for a little milky boost: Basil, Fennel and Clary Sage. If you were able to get your hands on my Labour Oil (available in clinic) prior to birth, then keep using this oil blend in your postnatal weeks. Containing clary sage as its base ingredient, it is a superior oil to balance for your hormones, helps your uterus shrink back to normal size and assists in milk production. Great for when you have had a c-section and your milk takes longer to come in. Basil and/or Fennel are excellent for milk production – use twice per day, about 2 drops in 5ml coconut oil and massage over breasts (avoid areola and nipples) and belly.
You could also make your own Fennel Milky Tea with doTERRA’s oils – steep lavender and lemon-balm herbs in boiling water for 5mins. Strain. Add 1 drop doTERRA fennel to each cup.
Order these oils HERE.
- Get a Postnatal massage every week for 6 weeks – everyone knows how important it is to look after yourself. But rarely do I see new mums who can do this well. The mums who come into my clinic that thrive in the postnatal months are the ones who take the time to PLAN their postnatal experience and don’t just “see what happens”. I have never met a woman who planned their postnatal months who didn’t have a great experience. But I meet women all the time who haven’t planned for success and are drowning in new motherhood.
Postnatal massage will firstly help with the aching muscles that often comes from carrying a baby for 9mths, delivering baby, and carrying said baby for hours upon hours per day. When you are exhausted from interrupted sleep, your entire system becomes more stooped in posture, (your tummy muscles are weak, which makes your back arch a little more and your shoulders droop forward, and you will no doubt lock out your knees too.)
Physically it is a no brainer – massage makes you feel better in your body. But the real benefits I think are in the weekly social interaction with a health professional who is trained to listen, support and guide you. You get to vent, cry, rejoice and express how you are truly feeling (to someone who is impartial). The therapist will listen, celebrate, support and encourage you. All whilst your body is being gently stretched, pampered, pummeled and covered in delicious smelling essential oils to calm your nerves and ease your mind. Studies have shown just 20mins per week can help reduce stress hormones in the body – imagine what 60mins can do!
- Go for a gentle walk each day. It is important that you read the word GENTLE and follow this. In my opinion the postnatal weeks should not be spent sweating, boot-camping and “getting your fitness back”!
These are weeks/months that your vital energy needs to come back to balance, muscles that have stretched and ligaments that are weakened take time to strengthen again. Pushing yourself will often lead to exhaustion and the more serious condition of adrenal fatigue. You have nothing to prove here mama! Give yourself a good 8 weeks before you start to even think about “getting back into shape” – I mean, where is the fire? Your body will return to a new kind of normal (let’s be honest, you have just given birth to a human, this human could go on to change the world, so lets give the experience some space!)You will learn to eat differently – especially if you are breastfeeding. You will have a different wake / sleep cycle for the best part of a year. You will need more energy and need to think about how you can distribute your energy wisely.
- Ask for help!
Take it from a woman who has been there, done that. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. I know personally I found it very hard to ask for help, because I was so afraid of being perceived as “failing” or not being good as a mother. It has taken me 15 years to realise that it isn’t important what other people think. Hopefully you don’t care either! But if you do find yourself wondering “do they think I am a good mum?” OR “Am I the worst mother ever?” Then I really want you to talk about your feelings, to your partner, a friend or a perinatal therapist. Stopping the negative self-talk EARLY is a sure fire way of managing the postnatal months with ease.
IF you are a feisty, independent, self reliant kinda gal, then you will no doubt have a “can-do” attitude that others can see! They might be relutant to offer to help, for fear of offending you (or getting their head bitten off!) Asking for help is a sign of strength – and people LOVE TO HELP! So let them:
Ask your neighbour to cook a meal.
Ask your friends to bring over food when they visit – instead of baby clothes.
Ask your partner to cook dinner at least three times per week – even if he is working! (You are working too mama!)
When in-laws or grandparents visit ask them to hang out the laundry.
Call the ABA or Trescillian or Karitane – they are amazing support services who want to see you THRIVE!
Mama, I want you to THRIVE. I want you to be a Modern Gal and know that she needs to take it slowly, nourish herself, make positive choices for her body and life and know that she has a support system around her, if only she will allow it.
For those who have passed through the postnatal months – do you have more #postnatalhacks to share?