11 Feb Five ways to nourish yourself postpartum
You’ve just spent the better part of a year, or more if you were planning to conceive, nourishing your pregnant body and growing baby. Now, baby is here and if you are anything like the rest of us, self care seems to be the first thing sacrificed in early parenthood. Your body is basically recovering from an ultra-marathon, your calories are going straight into making breastmilk, sleep is evasive, and hormones can make your emotions a little more variable than “normal”. As an acupuncturist, doula, and mama of two, here are a few suggestions to help you feel your best postpartum.
- Accept help, even ask for it. Babies are meant to be raised by villages where everyone pitches in to support the new families. One tiny human is a lot of work for even two adults. What if everyone who came to meet your baby brought you a warm meal, took your dog for a walk, or folded some laundry? Folks who come to visit want to help, they just need a little direction. Ask a friend or family member to arrange a meal train before baby is born so your family can focus on bonding with baby for the first few weeks instead of cooking. Most people love tiny things so folding clean baby clothes is totally swoon worthy. Nearly everyone who comes over will ask if you need anything so let them know how to help!
- Continue prenatal nutrition routines including following your midwife or doctor’s recommendation to continue your prenatal vitamin. We do such a great job nourishing our bodies when pregnant. Then baby is born and suddenly the pizza that gave you heartburn or ice cream you couldn’t eat because of high blood sugar are all you want! After all you actually need more calories while breastfeeding than pregnant, right?! While it is true that you do need to consume more calories while breastfeeding, healthy foods are just as important as they were in pregnancy. Continuing to prioritize healthy nutrition postpartum will help with milk production, energy, and recovery from the birth.
- Eat and drink warm foods. In China, it is a longstanding tradition for a mother to have 30 days of staying indoors and eating nourishing warm foods with the only responsibility of nursing her baby. Many cultures have similar rituals to honor and replenish mothers following pregnancy and childbirth. Though staying inside for 30 days isn’t something we are likely to take on in our culture, we can follow their wisdom around diet. In Chinese medicine, consuming warm cooked food is a great way to go easy on your digestion and nourish your body. Soup is a great choice. If you must have a salad or a smoothie, add a chunk of ginger to the dressing or throw it right into the blender.
- Reach out to other new parents. Becoming a parent can be isolating. Friends who aren’t yet parents often can’t really understand all the ways it changes your life. Go to your local La Leche League meeting, the new parents’s meet up you’ve heard of or a baby friendly exercise class.
- Prioritize your health. I get it, you are in survival mode. Making sure the humans and animals in your home are fed is great feat in and of itself when you are a busy new parent. Taking the time to get a massage, see your acupuncturist, or even take a few deep breaths may seem like a luxury, but the truth is you have to take care of yourself to take care of your family. A favorite midwife of mine said “a good mother gives herself to her children, but she has to have a self to give. A good mother nurtures herself.” Taking the time for self will benefit you and your entire family in both the short and long term!
If you are interested in learning more, book an appointment to come see me for a private acupuncture session in Portland, OR. Cheers to new parenthood and good health!