The postpartum stage, or the “fourth trimester,” is a time of development for your newborn, and for you too. Your body can go through changes, both physically and mentally, that may be foreign to you.
Giving life. It’s a momentous and deeply meaningful time for a woman.
But the experiences that follow are often very challenging, especially for Mama.
The postpartum stage can last for up to six months after giving birth. You may notice changes in your body, both physically and mentally. Regardless if this is your first baby or your fourth, you may not be prepared for these changes. But there are some simple diet and lifestyle practices that may help empower you.
Indulging in sleep may be a thing of the past as you’re now realizing the all-consuming energy needed for your newborn. Interrupted sleep, lack of support, breastfeeding struggles, and adjusting to your new normal may contribute to increased fatigue as you embrace life as a new mom.
The quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep. It’s suggested that sleeping near everyday disturbances such as your cellphone and television works against you when postpartum rest is needed. Instead, try creating your own cozy, sacred space
DID YOU KNOW?
Postpartum anemia can affect 50 percent of new moms for up to two days after giving birth.
Sodium-rich foods signal cellular water storage, which may lead to a swollen or bloated look to your body. If you received IV fluid during labour, studies suggest you may experience breast engorgement and swelling of your feet, legs, and hands as a side effect.
Try to avoid those oh-so-easy prepackaged foods, as sodium is a prevalent ingredient. Look for potassium-rich foods such as bananas, avocados, spinach, and beans or lentils instead, as potassium works naturally to reduce the body’s sodium levels.
You could also try a dandelion infusion; dandelion is well known for its diuretic effect. You can find dried dandelion or teas containing dandelion at almost any natural health store.
You may feel uterine cramping, as uterine involution is occurring during the first postpartum days. This is the process during which your uterus returns to its former pre-pregnancy size.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Nicole Davies says, “Acupuncture has been known to effectively relieve cramping and pelvic pain by increasing circulation to the uterus, reducing inflammation, and releasing endorphins.”
Feelings of postpartum depression (PPD) can affect up to 85 percent of new mothers as a possible result of the significant routine shift that comes with parenthood, poor sleep, hormone changes, lack of nutrients, or feelings of being isolated.
Be sure to check in with your health care practitioner if you think you may be experiencing PPD. Some mindfulness practices, such as meditation, may help quiet your mind and listen inwardly. This can make asking for help easier if you know exactly how and what you’re feeling.
Lack of time, knowledge, convenience, help, and energy might make you feel that preparing and eating nutritious food is impossible. Not to mention that grocery shopping may be the last thing on your to-do list.
Taking a few minutes to make a meal plan may prove helpful in the long run. Cooking can also be easier than you think if you wash and chop ingredients ahead of time—when you have some spare time. Try to snack often on nutrient-dense food—variety is important.
Exhaustion affects our mental health, specifically memory and concentration. Do you feel emotionally drained? This can result from lack of sleep and feeling the pressure to do everything and more in a day.
Promoting relaxation through light yoga and/or meditation during the postpartum season may be effective, and having a trusted friend or relative to talk to about what you’re experiencing is also important. Getting outdoors to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine can do a world of good to help reinvigorate you.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lochia, or vaginal bleeding, can potentially last for up to three months after you have your baby. If your postpartum bleeding is heavy and accompanied by pelvic or uterine pain, be sure to contact your health care practitioner.
Dreamy Postpartum Tonic
1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) ice
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cacao powder
2 to 4 pitted dates
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
In high-speed blender, add all ingredients. Blend on high until smooth, and serve. Top with powdered cinnamon, if desired.
Holistic nutritionist and birth doula Meegan Waters creates honest conversation on her women’s health podcast, InBloom. inbloompodcast.com