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Cultivating a practice of self-care is ideal to do before your baby arrives, so you will know what activities and tools make you feel best. Adapting your self-care rituals to life with a newborn can take time, however, a mother who can care for herself and fill her cup will be better off both physically and emotionally. Use your time during pregnancy to consider what would be realistic and effective types of self-care during your postpartum. Here are some of my favourite ways to encourage self-care in one's postpartum routine.
The first way to support your postpartum is to eat well. This takes some thought and preparation, as parents with a newborn will feel very time-poor. If you have been able to prepare some meals ahead of time that can be helpful. Other ways to support good eating during the early postpartum is to purchase a meal delivery service, delegate a meal train to friends and family, and order groceries/supplies online. Eating protein-rich meals will help to keep your hormones balanced and eating an extra 300-500 calories will help to support your milk supply.
Hydrating regularly helps to increase energy levels, support milk supply and other body functions. Try herbal teas, bone broths and electrolyte powders for added impact. Have a warm cup of tea or broth with you when you are feeding your baby, this will help to keep your fluid intake high and help you stay nourished as you nourish your little one.
If you can enlist the support of a postpartum doula this can be a fabulous way to invest in your postpartum. Sometimes friends and family can put in to gift you a doula service instead of unnecessary gifts for the baby at the baby shower. A doula can support you emotionally and physically, and will often offer services like meal preparation and cooking, massage, emotional support, cleaning and other tasks to support your family’s adjustment to life with a newborn.
Massage is a wonderful way to support your healing body. Massage gives all of the benefits of movement and exercise during a time when exercise is not available and resting should be a priority. In-home massage can be ideal in the early weeks and is a lovely thing to set some funds aside for or to ask for as a gift if your close ones are wanting to contribute to your postpartum journey.
This simple ritual can be so nourishing. Soaking your feet in hot water with some nourishing oils and magnesium salts will allow you to relax, release oxytocin and support sleep. This is something you can do while you are feeding your baby and is particularly lovely during the colder months.
To support your recovery from birth depending on the mode of delivery, there are so many products on the market now that will make your life easier. Massaging your c/section scar can be beneficial for wound healing and reducing the appearance of the scar over time.
And for those who had a vaginal birth, there are products like sitz bath mixes so you can bathe or steam your healing pelvic region. Supportive garments for your core like briefs, bands and recovery shorts are helpful to guide your muscles back into place. A lot of postpartum mums feel better when they have a structure or firming garment to hold their belly and pelvic floor in place. In the early days after a vaginal birth applying ice to the region can support healing by reducing swelling and soothing any discomfort.
Oxytocin is a powder hormone that makes us feel relaxed, in love, increases our bond with those around us and also supports breastfeeding. Oxytocin needs warmth to thrive, and also to feel safe, private and supported. Keep warm with socks, a robe and having cosy fabrics and pillows around you to help you relax and feel comfortable is a great way to support this superpower hormone.
As well as a doula, getting a good lactation consultant, psychologist, cleaner, massage therapist and physiotherapist can all be wonderful to support your pregnancy and birth recovery. Going through the transition of parenthood is huge and worth investing in. Those who can invest in good support have the benefit of feeling less overwhelmed and can hope to have a smoother transition into life with a new baby.
Joelleen, the founder of JWP is a holistic lactation consultant with over 13 years of experience supporting breastfeeding families. She combines her knowledge of midwifery, naturopathy and IBCLC lactation consulting to help parents feel guided and confident in their breastfeeding journey.
Joelleen offers clinic and in-home consultations for parents in Melbourne, and for those outside her visit zone, she offers her services virtually. Joelleen also has breastfeeding eGuides and hosts bi-monthly online workshops to help prepare parents for breastfeeding and for life with a newborn before their baby's arrival.
* photography by Studio Day Dot
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