Update: this is an older post from Megan…but one that our ladies have returned to again and again for tips and tricks to make your postpartum experience as smooth as possible.
Lately I have been focused on getting everything prepared for the birth of my second child, due in December. Let’s face it, having a baby can really rock your world!! With my first child, the hormonal transition didn’t go very smoothly in the postpartum period. So this time around, I am doing my homework to have all the tools to support myself in the best ways possible!!
Things to do before baby arrives:
- Prepare your kitchen
Having nutritious food and drink prepared ahead of time is extremely helpful. A fully stocked freezer can make the difference between eating fast food or take-out day after day, or having home-cooked meals.
- Prepare your body
While you are taking the time to stock your freezer you can also stock up on some nutrients in your body!! Power eating is the way to go in the third trimester. My definition of power eating is to consume the most nutrient dense foods possible (think bone broth, liver, collagen, ghee, coconut oil, sea veggies) to fill up your vitamin and mineral reserves. By the time baby arrives, if you end up sleep deprived and eating less than ideal foods for a period of time, you will have stores to pull from.
- Prepare your friends and family
Although it may seem like a very basic tip to ask for help, many moms are reluctant to reach out. Don’t be!! Speaking of asking for help, www.mealbaby.com is a site that allows your friends and family to sign up and arrange meals for you. Many people are happy to relieve you of your cooking duties! You never know how you are going to feel so having a support system in place ahead of time could make a world of difference.
Postpartum Tips for Natural Pain Relief
My midwife recommended having homeopathic arnica on hand for swelling after labor. Arnica is supposed to help with bruising as well supporting the soft tissues that may have been strained. I am happy to have an arsenal of natural pain relief options just in case!
Peri-Ease is an organic herb blend for perineum healing which includes Comfrey, Calendula, Witch Hazel, Uva Ursi, Shepard’s Purse and Yarrow. You can purchase the blend from everythingbirth.com or make your own herbal blend by buying herbs from somewhere like Mountain Rose Herbs. If you don’t want to invest in all of the herbs listed, Comfrey was the one that most highly recommended to me.
A sitz bath is a great way to use these herbs – simply pour boiling water over the herb blend (instructions are on the package from everything birth.com) and add to a bath with 8 inches of warm water.
You can also use this blend to make homemade soothing “padsicles”. Brew the herbs as if you are making tea, and pour the liquid over large sanitary pads. Put the pads on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once they are frozen you can throw them into a bag and keep them in the freezer. These will provide a lot of relief in the days following the birth of your child.
Tips for Nutrition and Hormone Balancing
I can’t emphasize this tip enough. You might be eager to get back in shape or get back to your usual tasks but this is one time in life that we really need to slow down and rest when we can.
You might really want to take advantage of the hour that you have to do something productive while your baby naps, but take a nap instead! I know first hand that it is impossible to balance your hormones when you are not getting adequate sleep.
- Stock Up on Your Prenatal Vitamins
Don’t forget that adequate nutrition is equally as important in the 4th trimester (also known as the postpartum period) as it was during pregnancy. It is vital to get enough nutrients while you are nursing, sleep deprived or possibly just don’t have the time to make the best food.
Innate Prenatal Trimester 3 and Post is the supplement that I will took during the 3rd trimester and will continue to take for support to make up for anything that I am not getting from food.
- Placenta Encapsulation
The placenta is responsible for providing nutrients and oxygen to your baby as well as producing hormones that help us maintain pregnancy.
When we give birth, our hormones levels drastically drop off from having an abundance of feel good hormones to the levels similar to a post-menopausal woman. Although nature eases us through menopause over a period of 10 years, the hormone change after giving birth is immediate.
One day we have them, the next they are gone!
Because of this extreme fluctuation, as well as nutrient deficiencies and other factors many women end up with the “baby blues” or postpartum depression. You can replenish these hormones, iron, protein, vitamins and minerals, by keeping and consuming your placenta. This can help with depression, mood changes and milk production.
Check with the hospital or wherever you plan to give birth about their rules and regulations of keeping your placenta ahead of time. The hospital where I planned on delivering (we now decided on a home birth!) asks that you bring a cooler and arrange for a person that can immediately remove the placenta form the hospital premises.
Placenta encapsulation is a service offered by many midwives or doulas. The placenta can be steamed, dehydrated, ground into a powder and encapsulated. Or some people choose to consume it raw hidden in something like a smoothie.
Although this may seem like a crazy or extreme practice to some, my midwife taught me that all mammals consume their placenta. After all, we are mammals too!
- Functional Lab Work
Pregnancy and the postpartum period can definitely take its toll on our hormone balance and thyroid function.
Many of my clients developed an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s during pregnancy. They were absolutely exhausted and depleted many months or even years after the birth of their child.
Although you may have written it off as new mommy exhaustion, there might be more going on. It is a good idea to check your thyroid (including checking for autoimmune antibodies), vitamins D and hormone levels about 6 months after the birth of your child.
Need More Support?
How to Conceive Naturally: and Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30, co-authored by my mentor, Christa Orecchio, is an excellent resource for the months prior to conceiving, during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The book even spells out a Postpartum Action Plan.
You can also grab my free Holistic Pregnancy Guide if you need any more support throughout your pregnancy.