It’s no secret that having a baby will put a mother in need of some serious R&R. So here to help with tips on how we can best take care of ourselves after we have given birth is Better Postpartum Founder and #MINDRMAMA Natalie Telyatnikov. Natalie, a postpartum support specialist, shares her 5 secrets for making sure that every new mom is able to rest, recover and focus on her needs, all while staying focused on the needs of her newest addition. Say hey to Natalie at @betterpostpartum.
If you’ve just had, or are about to have a baby… congrats!
As a postpartum support specialist, what I want for you, and for every mom, is to be informed about what you will experience after you give birth; and to feel empowered to have the most successful, healthy and happy start to your life with your new baby. Which you may have already guessed: is no small task.
After all (and those of you who’ve already been on the other side of birth will nod) those early days and weeks of new motherhood often come with a whole host of fun little life-upheavals. Women who give birth undergo a series of serious biochemical, hormonal, and brain composition changes. They are thrust into ‘recovery mode’ after giving birth, often needing to heal physically from a wide range of postpartum conditions. Add to that the potential pain and discomfort of breastfeeding and you’ve got a complete recipe for slight-to-severe postpartum suffering.
Oops. Did I forget to mention that you will be doing all of this while functioning on a debilitating less-than-3-hours of sleep? Silly me! Sorry. Because: Yes. That too.
So please read on, as I share these 5 secrets to getting through the postpartum haze.
Secret # 1: Learn everything you can about the postpartum period. If you are educated, then you will be empowered to set yourself up for better success.
Your postpartum time with your new baby has the potential to be sweet, intimate, and special.
But, if we’re being completely honest—it seldom is described by women that way. This is in part due to the fact that this particular period of the “birthing continuum” is very often overlooked and tragically ill prepared for—especially when compared to how much prep time goes into learning about techniques to get through the labor and delivery phase.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and HealthRight International have published studies showing that up to 80% of women report reduced symptoms of postpartum depression and other postpartum hardships, when given proper preparatory and educational guidance. With the right education, support, tools, resources, and advice and care from the right specialists and healthcare practitioners, mothers would be in a better position to avoid or alleviate many of the common, universal challenges that arise in the postpartum time. A Better Postpartum class is a one-stop shop for the best postpartum care practices and advice from midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, nutritionists, therapists and sleep specialists.
Secret # 2: Follow this basic rule: Your job is to make sure that your (and baby’s) basic needs are met. No one else’s.
I can’t tell you how many moms I’ve worked with who are completely focused on their baby’s needs, but are dismally unaware of how badly they are ignoring, or voluntarily choosing to forgo, their own needs in those early days, weeks, and months after having a baby.
Your needs must come first. Then your baby’s—at a very close second. Remember: You have to secure your own oxygen mask, before assisting others. This is just as true in motherhood, as it is as a passenger on a Boeing 787. Every child deserves a well mother. So make sure your needs are getting met in a variety of ways every day, so that you are mothering from a place of wellness. This can mean doing anything from taking breaks to taking showers, from having tea to chatting with friends, putting your baby down, and generally letting others care for you and your baby.
Don’t forget, this also may include, going to see specialists, joining support groups, fostering a sense of community, going to the right doctors/therapists, getting a massage, any thing that falls under the big, giant realm of “taking care of you. I’m talking about: Your needs. Your health. Your body. Your emotions. You, you, you.
Secret # 3: Nourish yourself with the right healing foods. Focus on your health and nutrition which will aid in your recovery.
Our postpartum physiology requires us to eat certain types of healthy, nourishing and healing postpartum foods in order to better recover from the act of giving birth. What we put in our bodies can assist in the repair of our body tissue, help replace lost blood supply, assist our organs in properly processing and eliminating toxins, and help to regulate our hormonal and nervous systems.
Generally, I recommend eating foods that are “warm in temperature, warm in nature”. These are foods that are warm/hot in temperature and are seasoned with warming spices. Think hot herbal teas, hot porridge with spices like ginger, cinnamon, molasses or cloves, with plenty of melty animal fats, like butter and/or ghee. Or for lunch/dinner, try slow-cooked meat stews—and plenty of bone broths. These are the rich healing foods that exist in the traditions of many cultures all over the world, and are also seen throughout history, as being given to postpartum women.
Secret # 4: Be the boss. Use managerial skills to delegate and outsource.
As the mother hen, you are now the Queen of the house. And like any successful boss: you must learn to delegate. You must learn to outsource.
What does ‘being the boss’ look like in practice? It looks like hiring help. Or getting your partner, your mother, your neighbor, your aunt, your anyone… to do things for you. It is imperative to understand that no matter who helps you—you will need help with all the things: cleaning, cooking, laundering, and with baby care. You will need meals, showers, phone calls, and breaks. Maybe you register for a meal train, a postpartum doula, a night nanny, or a babysitter. I’m telling you: whatever you can get, get that. The general rule of thumb here? Get more than you think you need. (Trust me on that one).
The old “It Takes a Village” adage sometimes feels a bit cliche—so—okay—let’s say something different. How about: “It Takes a Whole Staff of People?” Or: “It Takes a Football Team?” Okay—maybe we’re not ready just yet to entrust our babies to a football team. Bad example. But, you get the point.
Secret # 5: Make your bed your “best friend” and your “home base.”
You need to recoup, recover, and conserve energy. You need to nap whenever you can, if you can. Or just zombie out, and lay like a corpse—you’re still recharging your batteries that way, just at a slower ‘charge’ level. The fact of the matter is: You will need lots of time in the supine position. Rest helps you heal, helps you lose less blood, helps your internal anatomy reset properly, and helps you to conserve your mood and energy levels.
Plus, loads of cuddles and skin-to-skin time will supply you with the oxytocin (love hormone) you need to feel over-the-moon in love, and could help you with breastfeeding attempts as well.
So stay in bed. Read and watch movies there. Decorate your room with flowers. Eat your meals on trays.
Time spent like this is often at the very heart—it is the foundational root—of what it takes to regain your strength, and to feel good, in your new life as a new mother.