5 Steps to Postpartum Recovery
May 17, 2018 09:00AM
By Sarah Anderson
If you’re like most first time moms, you’re spending a lot of time and energy navigating your pregnancy and preparing for the birth of your dreams, but haven’t put as much thought into your postpartum plan. If this isn’t your first birth, you know how challenging the postpartum period can be, but may not know how to design a postpartum plan that is achievable and comprehensive.
Follow these five steps and go from giving birth to feeling confident and restored.
Reflect and Make a PlanFormulating a plan before the birth allows you to consider what makes you feel supported and calm. It gives you time to ask for help in advance and create clear expectations so you can enter the unknown terrain of motherhood with a little more confidence and ease.
Decide who you want visiting you and when. Consider limiting guests in the early weeks so you can fully focus on resting and processing your experience. This is an occasion in your life where it is perfectly reasonable to attend to your own needs instead of the hopes of others.
People enjoy being invited to help, but you must decide what type of support is most meaningful.
Ask friends and family ahead of time to be a part of your recovery plan and tell them how to contribute.
Conserve your energy by having someone bring you food, run errands, pick up groceries, do light house cleaning, play with your toddler, or hold the baby while you rest. Don’t forget to communicate these desires to your partner, as they are an important gatekeeper to manage visitors.
"Give yourself permission to ask for what you need and receive it open-heartedly."
What self-care rituals will support your needs? Would a salt bath, gentle massage or yoga ease your sore muscles? Does journaling or talking to a trusted friend help if you feel vulnerable, overwhelmed or even ecstatic? Give yourself permission to ask for what you need and receive it open-heartedly. Know that a healthy and happy mother is what’s best for your baby!
BreatheConnecting to your breath postpartum will help you to do two important things: reconnect to your body and stay present in the moment.
In order to birth your baby, your energy is focused on opening and letting go. Postpartum is the time to focus on closing and drawing inward. Breath awareness is easy to do and gives you a specific way to connect with your body.
Start taking slow, full breaths and notice the changing sensations in your nose, chest, belly, ribs and pelvic floor. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath. Start this practice immediately postpartum for just two minutes twice a day and increase over time.
This practice will help balance your nervous system after birth and create a sense of calm whenever you need it.
RestAllow yourself physical and mental rest to restore at the deepest level. As the saying goes, “Five days in the bed, five days on the bed, and five days around the bed.” That’s 15 days of staying close to your room, keeping your legs together, and minimizing movement and unnecessary social interactions. This allows your pelvic tissues to heal, your internal organs to reorganize, and your mind a chance to integrate the experience without any additional input. Any extra energy is conserved for recovery and bonding with your baby. Plus, getting as much rest as you can will help restore your hormones and circadian rhythm.
Rest doesn’t mean you have to sleep when the baby sleeps. Plan restful activities like reading, journaling or meditating to relax during down time and make a serious effort to stay off of devices during nightime feeding sessions.
NourishIn order for your tissues to heal optimally and to make the healthiest breast milk (if you’re nursing) you need to eat nourishing whole foods. It’s important to limit sugar intake and processed foods and amp up the nutrient dense options. Focus on eating a diet high in clean protein to support recovering connective tissue.
Eat lots of healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, grass fed butter, and nuts and seeds along with a variety of vegetables. Consider drinking bone broth or taking a high-quality collagen supplement too.
Ask for support to have these foods available. If you’re having people bring meals let them know what types of foods you want, and hold on the casseroles! Soups and stews are good options at this time.
If you’re working on getting back to your pre-baby weight know that these suggestions will help you get there while maintaining adequate milk supply.
Now is not the time to go on a low-calorie diet!
ReviewWrite down your birth story and reflect on lessons from the experience. Even if your birth experience varied from what you wanted, there is valuable and affirming wisdom to gain. Plus, doing so will help you feel at peace.
Nancy Bardacke, author of Mindful Birthing suggests answering the following questions: What did you learn about yourself through the experience of giving birth? What did you learn about life itself? Are you grateful for anything about your birth experience? How can you take this new discovery into your everyday life going forward?
Birth is a monumental physical and life altering event so give your recovery the attention it deserves. It’s normal for it to take time to integrate the birth experience and adjust to your new life rhythm. Gift yourself the space, support, and nourishment in this pivotal season of your life.
Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT, CHWC, C-IAYT is a dynamic practitioner with a broad skill set and a passion for helping women overcome their personal barriers to achieving optimal health. To learn more about her please visit CrystalFrazee.com.