Being pregnant and giving birth is one of the biggest physical and emotional challenges you will ever face. Your body will go through so much to bring new life into the world, after which you will immediately be required to care for a brand new person 24/7. This is going to be hard work! There’s no disputing that this is the most rewarding challenge you will face, but there’s no harm in being prepared either. Here are some tips for postpartum healing that will help you recover following the birth of your baby.
Accept your limitations
Mother Nature rarely gives us more than we’re able to manage, but that doesn’t mean you need to prove your ability to cope with it all by going above and beyond what is sensible. Pregnancy and birth are huge challenges for the body to face, and you aren’t going to just walk away from it all without a scratch. Chances are you will be at the very least tired after your baby is born, so it’s a good idea to take this as a signal to slow down. Parenting a newborn is an intense period of time that involves round the clock care for a tiny person that is unable to fend for themselves. You’re going to be required to do this straight after giving birth! So you’re also going to need to accept that you can’t do it all. Take this time to focus on your baby and your baby alone. Leave the chores to your partner, friends or family and take everything one step at a time.
Give yourself time
All women are different, and some of us may not always present a true picture when we’re out and about. Just because your friend from baby group seems to have recovered a lot quicker than you, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Experts estimate that it can take up to 6 weeks to recover from giving birth, but it’s important to remember that this is just an estimate. If you need longer, be kind to yourself and take a little longer. Life is not a race, and if you slow the pace a little you and your baby will benefit.
Tips for healing your mind
Having a baby is such an emotional time! All of a sudden, you go from being pregnant to being in charge of a whole new person, and that can be overwhelming. You barely have time to process this either, because as soon as they’re born your baby needs you. And what of you and your needs? You’re so busy making sure your baby is warm, clean and fed- and the other children, if you have them- that often you can all too easily forget about yourself too. Make sure that you put your own requirements at the top of your list of priorities too. Try these tips:
● Put together an ‘essentials’ basket of all the things you need during the day, so that you’re not spending time running around when you could be relaxing. Nappies, cotton wool, snacks, bottles of water, a book- all great things to keep handy so that you can rest a little during feeds.
● Accept for help when it’s offered, or ask for it if it’s not. Sometimes we give the impression that we don’t need help, especially if this is not our first baby. But we all need to take time out now and then so if someone offers to give you a hand, say yes! Use the opportunity to catch up on sleep, or go for a walk- whatever it takes to clear your head and have five minutes to yourself.
● Talk, talk, talk. Emotions are rife after you’ve given birth and sometimes the smallest things can be the most upsetting. Talk to your partner, friends or family and let them know how you’re feeling. Also let them know what they can do to help you.
● Shop online for a few weeks or so, to make sure that you always have healthy foods available, and to save yourself from the chore of grocery shopping with a newborn baby. You’ll thank us for this!
Tips for healing your body
Being pregnant is a little like running a marathon, and giving birth is like the sprint at the end. Both events leave you exhausted and exhilarated- but unlike running, having a baby can cause a fair amount of minor aches, pains and injuries too. There are natural ways to soothe your body though, and here are some of our favourite:
● Take a herbal bath. This is best done as soon as possible after birth, to help ease discomfort and soothe swollen/ sore tissues. We recommend using sea salt, lavender, witch hazel, calendula and chamomile as these are wonderful ingredients widely used for soothing and healing.
● Use a comfrey ice pack- these are wonderful for easing soreness after birth and for reducing swelling too. Comfrey gel is also great for healing after birth.
● Take arnica tablets to help with healing. These can also help with reducing discomfort from after pains.
● Massage- some women swear by postpartum massage to help ease discomfort and soothe tired muscles. Try mustard oil for a warming effect, or coconut oil for a cooling, hydrating massage. Other oils to use include sweet almond (for relief from muscle pain, inflammation, and itching), olive oil (to relieve stiffness) or lavender to restore calmness if needed.
● Hydrate yourself. Giving birth is draining! Drink plenty of water, coconut water and herbal tea to restore the balance in your body.
● Chamomile for rest. It can be hard to sleep post birth- there are so many emotions whirling around your head, never mind the baby that wakes for feeds on a regular basis! Some women find it hard to switch off and rest, and this can have a negative effect on recovery. On top of this, some hormones post birth can actually cause insomnia so it’s a good idea to try drinking chamomile tea to counter-balance this.
● Take care of your breasts. If you’re breastfeeding, the early days can be painful and your nipples are going to take the brunt of it. Try making up a soothing cream to apply after feeds- use coconut oil, shea butter and coconut butter (in equal parts) to moisturise and soothe.
● Combat the baby blues with bergamot or geranium essential oils. Both are known to help prevent postpartum depression; simply add 2-3 drops to a small water spray bottle and spritz into the air.