Postpartum- the time thereafter you’ve had a child. Most refer to women as postpartum from the time of birth through to around 3 months after birth. This postpartum definition will vary as some recognize it only as the first couple weeks following birth, the infamous 6 week checkup/clearance to exercise and have sex, while others view it as a 40 day period or even an infinite period. Regardless of how you view it, postpartum is very real and comes with very real needs. These needs also vary to some degree, but after having gone through childbirth a few times, I am beginning to get my feet wet, if you will, in the true necessities that follow after the birth of a baby. Spoiler alert: It’s not any one of those 47 cute onesies or baby blankets you got from your baby shower 😉 With this being said, this is coming from a personal perspective and is also being written with a normal vaginal birth or a normal belly birth in mind. With that little disclaimer, let’s jump in!
“I just had a baby. Now what?”
Your sweet baby is now earth side, yay! But holy smokes, your body feels like it’s been through a VICTORIOUS war, whether a vaginal or belly birth!
I couldn’t emphasize this enough if I tried! Support is vital to the new mother as she navigates this postpartum phase with a newborn, whether it’s her first or eleventh. Mothering the mother is SO important. It’s an art that most westernized societies have truly lost a hold of. I could go on and on and on… and on about this, but I won’t. Not in this blog post anyways. Some incredible resources for understanding more about WHY support is SO critical & vital are The First Forty Days, and The Fourth Trimester. There’s other incredible material out there on postpartum support and how to establish it, these are just a couple I have personally read and loved. I couldn’t recommend these enough! If a support person or team is unavailable to you, consider hiring a postpartum doula.
2. Nourishing Foods
This, too, is another subject I could go on and on about! Your gut controls so much when it comes to your health. It truly starts from the inside out. Your body is in a vulnerable state early postpartum and is working like mad to heal. Help yourself out with some good food! Meal prep prior to baby coming and stock up on freezer meals and pantry staples. Soft, warm foods are best for early postpartum healing, and of course, sticking with organic food when you can, grass fed meats and butters, sprouted grains, while avoiding cold foods and processed foods. This would be a great time to gather your support people and ask that they help meal prep or bring a meal once baby is born. You can set up a meal train (like mealtrain.com) for anyone else who wants to help in this way, or use a food delivery service if funds allow. The First Forty Days is an incredible book when it comes to nourishing the new mother with food.
3. Vitamins and Herbs
Keeping a healthy gut and body during (and before/after) pregnancy is so important! Truthfully, you should strive to get your vitamins and herbs via your food! However, it can be hard to do so. These are some herbs/vitamins that would be very beneficial!
- A quality probiotic (I like Garden of Life’s woman probiotic however, there are many to choose from) is wonderful to promote healthy gut bacteria.
- A quality, whole food prenatal with folate not folic acid!
- A Vitamin B complex and Vitamin D (nervous and immune system support)
- Red Raspberry Leaf (to strengthen and tone the uterus)I prefer the tincture of this! Limited Edition brand is my favorite! Tastes good and is quick and easy!
- Nettle Leaf (calcium and iron source) and Alfalfa (can aid in preventing excessive blood loss post birth and can boost milk supply) tinctures are wonderful, too! Also from Limited Edition brand!
4. After-Pain Relief Tincture
This is for after pains. In case no one has told you, you will experience after pains after birth. This is your uterus contracting to work its way back down to its pre pregnancy size. After-Pain Relief Tincture is filled with different herbs to diminish the intensity/pain of them while doing so all natural as opposed to an over the counter drug. I’ve personally used it & it worked very well!
5. Placenta Encapsulation
If you’re not familiar with this you’re probably thinking she is telling me to put what into capsules? but let me tell you, your placenta is an incredible organ with incredible healing properties and other benefits! Placenta encapsulation is the process of taking your placenta (this is where your baby got all his or her nutrients from while inside of you!) and putting it into pill form. Some even eat theirs raw or mix them with smoothies (Which isn’t bad- it’s actually yummy! You can’t taste the placenta when mixed into a smoothie!) You’ll want to hire a placenta encapsulation specialist to process your placenta as it’s a time consuming and on your feet process. Not to mention, if not done properly, it can make you sick. Although not common, there are some instances where one wouldn’t want their placenta encapsulated because of health issues. Talking with your placenta encapsulation specialist would help determine whether or not you would be a good fit for placenta consumption. Speak with your local midwives, doulas, hospitals, or moms in your area to find a specialist near you! I’ve consumed my placenta twice now and wouldn’t not do it, health permitting!
6. Adult Diapers and Maxi Pads.
Whether vaginal or belly birth, you’re going to want some major absorption down there. Your body is healing, you have an open wound, about the size of a paper plate, in your uterus, where your placenta was attached. Your body’s natural way of cleaning the wound and healing is through bleeding. Adult Diapers, or depends, are wonderful in the sense of you not having to worry about a pad slipping and sliding and your bleeding going off of it. Adult Diapers offer the absorbency and reassurance a newly postpartum mama wants. (For the first few days to week or so, I stick maxi pads inside of the depends as well. This gives me even more reassurance/comfort.) Consider investing into period proof underwear, like these from Thinx and/or cloth pads!
5. Peri Bottle with some type of antiseptic
This is especially soothing for immediate post birth, especially if you have any tears.My favorite is Nature’s Cleanse! Nature’s Cleanse is made from all natural ingredients that have naturally soothing properties, which is a plus! Trust me, you don’ want to be trying to wipe your lady bits immediately after birth. Rinsing after using the bathroom with a peri bottle is much more gentle on your bottom.
6. Belly Binder
Again, whether belly birth or vaginal, this is a must! I wrote a blog here about Bengkung Belly Binding. However, there are many others on the market. This video below helped me form my opinion on using a bengkung binder versus other binders on the market. My binder was purchased through The Art of Wellness.
7. Herbal Baths or Herbal Spray
These feel so incredible on your bottom! The warm water mixed with the healing properties of the herbs- ahhh. There are herbal baths made specifically for postpartum mama’s (and babies, too!) My favorite is In His Hands Herbal Afterbirth Bath, but there are many out there to choose from. If a bath isn’t achievable for you (most doctors advise against cesarean mamas from submerging their scar and stitches until they’ve healed some) or if your’e just not a fan of baths,
if that’s you, we can’t be friends, kinda kidding 😉 there are also Sitz Bath Sprays to spray your bottom with. This still offers the medicinal and soothing properties of the herbs, but without the bath- which would be ideal if your doctor has advised against baths. I have really liked this Postpartum Spray from Pachamama.
8. A Comfy Bra and Spot to Nurse your Baby!
Your boobs will thank you for a comfy bra to wear. Regular bras, and even sports bras put too much pressure on your breasts, and they’re more likely to clog your milk ducts because of this. (Bravado and Bamboobies are good brands, among many others!) Also, stack up those pillows in your bed, you’ll want them for extra back support while nursing! A nursing pillow is a must, too- like a boppy pillow or a My Breast Friend nursing pillow! Perhaps a fluffy, comfy recliner! Just trust me on this. Scope out your spot that you’ll be comfortable nursing in.
9. Postpartum Affirmations
I wish I would’ve had these with my first! These are a deck of cards that you can string up around your house, carry in the diaper bag, or set out on counters where you know you’ll see them. These offer emotional and mental support with their words of encouragement plastered all over them. The Renegade Mama has my favorite affirmations!
10. Postpartum Cart
Now you need somewhere to put all these items that will make your postpartum a little more manageable and accessible! Whether you’ve had a belly birth or vaginal birth, sticking this cart next to your bedside will make your life so much easier! I have used mine to store diapers and wipes for easy nighttime diaper changes, snacks for the middle of the night for myself (can someone say breastfeeding cravings?!) my vitamins and herbs- the list goes on! Plus, if you get one like this one here, it rolls which makes it that much more convenient!
Some of these may be slightly luxurious, sure. BUT!! So practical and makes life so much easier on yourself! You are trying to heal, bond with a new stranger (your baby!) feed said stranger, deal with emotions- so much is going on. You owe it to yourself to take the load off some, whether that’s taking daily vitamins and herbs to help your body heal, stringing postpartum affirmations, or buying a rolling bedside storage cart!
What would you add to this list, if anything?! Do these sound like they would be or would have been helpful to you postpartum?! Let me know! I sure know they have been for me!