This is the second article in a series from Lisa Hewitt on how to take care of your body during and after pregnancy. Lisa is a Holistic Nutritionist at Bright Beginnings with a special focus and love for a nourished pregnancy and postpartum, and inspired infant nutrition. As a Mama of 3 with nearly two decades in the health industry, Lisa is best known for her capacity to inspire wellness while being respectful, inclusive, and generous to the culture of Motherhood. Read her first article on the essentials for a healthy pregnancy here.
A new mother has been born!
As a modern culture we prepare very well for birth, and also for a new baby. Preparing appropriately and thoughtfully for postpartum however, is often overlooked. This is a time in a woman’s life like no other – it can be many things but it will transform our hearts forever.
You are the body that built baby. Now you’ve birthed her too.
Let this time be cherished, and sacred; those raw and early weeks of new life embody a fragility that allows us to exist in our most vulnerable and sensitive state. This moment is a cornerstone for transformation, from maiden into motherhood.
There is a call for tenderness. Surrender. Permission to be still with our young.
In other cultures around the world, postpartum is recognized and respected as an impressionable time for both mother and baby. Therefore, after birth and often for the first month – or forty days – the new mother is given reprieve from all responsibility except caring for her new child.
She is nurtured, nourished, and cradled by her community.
A modern mother requires many of the same things. If granted a similar period of grace, she can emerge stronger, and more capable in the months and years ahead.
A NURTURED POSTPARTUM
Rest – consider the first month after your baby is born as a time to pause from routine, schedules, or expectation. Let your new normal be spacious, open, and unstructured so you can relax into the art of being, not doing. One day soon life will resemble what it once was. In the meantime, rest, recalibrate, recover, and heal.
Warmth – heat is the only unbound element – it can transcend all physical limitations or boundaries. Warmth is a key foundation for postpartum healing since it allows energy, blood, and even emotion to flow more freely. A new mother and baby recover from birth best when they are kept warm, both in temperature and in essence.
Hydration – liquids provide a vessel to cleanse the body while the orchestra of hormones re-balance and fall into place. Water is vital to producing breastmilk (see more on that below), and for replenishing our cells after the hard work of giving birth. Focus on warm drinks like herbal teas, broth, and room temperature liquids. Cold water or icy drinks inhibit blood-flow to the womb, which needs warmth and adequate circulation to return to its pre-pregnancy state.
Nourishment – an enormous amount of energy is expended during labour, and how smoothly a mother recovers will be directly influenced by her nutrition.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, proper nourishment will also invite a plentiful and healthful milk supply:
- Reduce inflammatory foods – such as refined sugar, refined grains, and caffeine. Focus on wholesome warming foods, and soft, nutrient-rich meals like broths, soups, and hearty stews. In the warmer months of the year, include fresh-pressed vegetable juices and nourishing smoothies both served at room temperature.
- Ditch the dairy – though dairy is not an inherently unhealthy food it can be problematic when recovering from birth. It slows our digestion down, increases inflammation, and can be a trigger for digestive stress in babies.
- Include Healthy Fats – on repeat. Don’t even try to mess with this. Nervous system development for baby during the first year of life is as rapid as it’ll ever be with baby’s brain reaching a whopping 60% of its adult size by 12-months of age! The brain and nervous system are made up of 75% fatty tissue, and since nature knows best, the fat in breastmilk is responsible for around 50% of calories provided to baby. Not only are healthy fats paramount to nourishing a mother’s body and mind after birth, they are critical to the health of your baby.
and most importantly
Support – Sink sweetly into motherhood and tuck into your newborn by relaxing into your village of care. It can be hard to agree to such support since we are a culture of isolation and nuclear living; accept gifts of time, energy, cooking, or tidying. (Here’s a very useful gift idea for a mom-to-be: DIY Postpartum Padsicles.)
Give yourself permission to be nurtured – you cannot pour from an empty cup.
*The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
Read more of our posts on motherhood here: DIY Postpartum Padsicles, An Open Letter to Myself One Year Into Motherhood, DIY Postpartum Padsicles, and The Beauty of Motherhood and the Importance of Self-Care.