Photo Credit: Little Feet Photography http://www.littlefeetphotographytoronto.com/
It seems that today in our society all of the focus is on pregnancy, and the time immediately following the birth of the baby. It is part of our culture to plan baby showers weeks in advance and plan a visit to come see the baby as soon as he or she is born. But what happens after a few weeks? All too often now, after a few days to weeks the partner has to go back to work and mom is left on her own with the new addition. All those people who were at her baby shower are nowhere to be seen! Not so long ago, people tended to stay in the community they grew up in, and grandmas, aunts and sisters were available to drop by and help mom out. There also seems to have been a shift in society to be able to be “super mom” and do it all. Not only is this not possible (I can hear you all breathing a sigh of relief… you are normal!), it’s not healthy for mom and baby.
While it is important to get mobile again after giving birth, it is also important to not try and overdo it. The first three months of the baby’s life can be thought of as the 4th trimester, a lot of growth and development happens in this time period. There are also a lot of changes for mom! This is the time to have a “baby moon”. A Baby moon is time for mom and baby to get plenty of rest, the partner to be very involved and both parents to get in tune with their baby’s cues. This can reduce the risk of postpartum depression and help to reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted which are super common in the first 12 weeks.
In the final stages of your pregnancy it is a good idea to get your house prepared for the new arrival. Something that we do at my workplace, which is very helpful for new parents, is to make and freeze a healthy meal for the family. Having the stress of meals and housekeeping duties reduced is essential in the first 12 weeks.
Top Tips For Health Post Partum Recovery
1) Rest and sleep are very important. Make these your number 1 priority
2) Drink plenty of water. It is necessary for your breast milk supply, to help keep urine flowing to reduce the risk of infection, and help to keep stools soft.
3) Eat whole foods that are nourishing and easily digestible such as fish, cooked vegetables, oatmeal, and chicken soup/broth
4) Avoiding constipation is important! Include fiber in the diet; prunes work great for this purpose!
5) Make a nutritive tea. Combine equal parts nettle, red raspberry and oat straw. Steep 1 tsp in 1 cup of water, have 3 times a day
6) Use Sitz baths!
7) A peri bottle is also a “must have”. A healing herbal blend for the peri bottle is: comfrey, calendula, uva ursi, sheppard’s purse and thyme. Add herbs to boiling water and let steep for 30 min. Allow to cool and put in a peri spray bottle on the back of the toilet, for after each trip to the bathroom. Replace the mixture every 2 days
8) Continue taking your prenatal supplement. The body still needs increased nutrients in the post partum period
9) Fish oil, with at least 750 mg EPA, can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression
10) Probiotics, Vitamin B12, Iron and Vitamin C may also be required. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to help determine your individual needs
Post partum depression/anxiety are also quite common after birth and are nothing to be ashamed of! Common symptoms can be rapid mood changes, anxiety regarding how to care for baby, feeling very overwhelmed, and having “muddled” thinking. It is thought to be due to a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in prolactin (the hormone that facilitates breast feeding). Mom should be seen by her family and/or naturopathic doctor if she is experiencing any of these symptoms. Having necessary support can help reduce the risk. If support is going to be lacking in the post partum period, a post partum doula may be a good option for your family. There are plenty of resources and support groups online for mom’s who are suffering such as Ottawa based Mom’s Helping Mom’s With Postpartum Depression.
The best medicine is always prevention! Be sure to work with your naturopathic doctor during your pregnancy to help set yourself up for an optimal delivery and speedy recovery in the post partum period.
Dr Alexis Reid BASc., MSc., ND
Photo credit: Little Feet Photography