5 Simple Tips for Postpartum Mental and Physical Health
Often in today’s standard American culture, a woman has a baby and not much thought is given in regards to the postpartum period or the aftermath. That is still the same woman you used to see in your 6:00am CrossFit class or your regular Sunday yoga class at lululemon. It’s just now she has a baby. But in my opinion, the new mother should not be the one having to make adjustments. Her community should adjust and embrace her and praise her for her achievements.
Because having a baby and returning to activity is an achievement. Yes, there are those women who breeze right through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and then are back at the gym in six weeks. That’s not common, but it’s a blessing. Then there are women whose experience of things is not as peachy. And, that’s completely normal. It’s life, so embrace it for all its glory.
Given that I’ve seen a lot of women deal with this transition in their life, I’ve come up with the top five things every new mother should know after giving birth.
1. Eat clean and nourishing foods.
Whether you had short vaginal birth or an emergency cesarean section, you need proper nutrients so your body can heal and recover optimally. The best thing you can do is to sip on bone broth throughout the first two weeks. Try to avoid inflammatory foods like grains, sugar, and dairy. Eat foods that are super nutrient dense in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
2. The gym will always be there.
Your newborn is only a newborn for so long. Soak up the time you have with the little one. Take naps, go on walks, and just get to know each other. It’s normal to want to get back into the swing of things. However, the blanket advice “you’re clear at six weeks” doesn’t always apply. Every woman is different and will recover at different rates. When you do go back to the gym, remember to ease into workouts and don’t overdo yourself.
3. Breastfeeding may not come easy.
As we know, babies are supposed to breastfeed. However, it is completely common for breastfeeding to not work like butter the first week or so. There are people out there who know how to handle these situations. For instance, check out Le Leche League International and local groups in your area for support. Clients of mine have taken weeks to get comfortable with breastfeeding.
4. You are not alone, nor are you crazy.
I’ve had women breakdown and cry in my office while saying, “I just don’t understand how Jill picks the kids up, works out, shops and still stays sane.” My answer to them is always, “She had help, whether she admits it or not.” I have never found that to not to be the case. When your partner goes back to work and it’s just you and the little one at home, it’s normal to get a little stir crazy. I encourage women to journal and go for walks with the baby. Invite women over from your pregnancy support groups, whether it was Sacred Pregnancy, Hypnobirthing, or fitness classes. Reach out to your community. If you do need professional help, then seek it out. There are many resources out there.
5. Above all, give yourself a break.
You just gave birth to another being. That’s a beautiful magical experience. Own it. Saturate yourself in being a new mother. Don’t beat yourself up for not making it to the gym by week seven, or for missing someone’s birthday. This is the fourth trimester, so just go with it.
Whether it’s your first or third child, treat each pregnancy, birth, and fourth trimester with gratitude and respect. Each experience is different so embrace the energy that each on has to offer you.
What were your personal experiences with the fourth trimester? Post to comments below.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.