5 Ways to Prepare for the Postpartum
When people are pregnant, they often think about what life will be like with baby. However, the immediate postpartum sometimes get overlooked. Today, I’m discussing 5 simple ways how you can prepare for the postpartum.
Create Your Nest
It’s likely that most of your time in the immediate postpartum will be feeding baby and getting rest. Many people believe they need to ‘get back to it’ days after birth – but the truth is that your body has done A LOT over the past 9 months, and some people liken birth to participating in a marathon.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there’s a huge emphasis on resting for the first 40 days after birth in order to replenish your energy stores. So, if you’re going to be recuperating in your home for the next little while, you may want to consider purchasing some items to cultivate some comfort.
This may include:
- Comfortable chair that can glide back and forth
- Side table to hold your water, phone, etc.
You essentially want to make your space as nice and cozy as possible so you can enjoy the immediate postpartum as much as you can.
Stock Your Pantry & Freezer
Oftentimes when you’re caring for a newborn, cooking isn’t top of mind. But eating well is important to you may want to replenish iron and blood, repair tissues and support hormones, enrich breastmilk and support mood.
When my clients begin maternity leave, they usually start preparing meals that can be frozen and easily warmed up when needed. Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes simple yet nourishing meals to support your body in the postpartum. This includes soups, stews, and broths (even during those warmer months!).
Soft and simple meals (read: easily digestible) are recommended because your digestive system was displaced during pregnancy and needs time to return to its original position and function. Eating a meal that takes a lot of energy to digest, may upset your system.
Ideally all your meals should contain some type of protein and fat to nourish your body and help with repair and recovery. Hydration is also quite important as you likely need to replenish fluids lost at birth. Moreover, if you choose to chest/breastfeed, water is needed for milk production.
Lastly, many wise people recommended adding gift cards your registry – specifically to grocery stores/local restaurants. Basically, if you’re able to purchase ready-made food, it will save you lots of time and energy (not to mention, washing dishes!).
Stock-up on Your Supplements
I often get questions from patients asking which (if any) supplements they should take in the postpartum. Obviously this depends person-to-person, but for the most part there are a few to consider having in your cabinet.
- Prenatal Vitamin: You won’t be done with this one yet! If you’re chest/breastfeeding, your baby is getting many of their nutrients from you. So it’s necessary for you to continuously replenish that store for their needs as well as yours!
- Fish oil with EPA and DHA: Fish oil in general is a great supplement to have on hand for your overall health and mood, and the DHA specifically will help with your baby’s neurological development.
- Probiotics: If you ended up testing positive for Group B Strep, you will most likely get antibiotics during your birth. Supplementing with healthy bacteria will aid in replenishing your gut – which will not only benefit your immune system, but will support baby’s too. There are specific strains for the vaginal microbiome as well.
- Vitamin D: Generally, most of us are low in vitamin D. Low levels have been shown to contribute to postpartum mood disorders. To determine how much you need (because this is one of those vitamins where dose does matter), a simple blood test can be done.
- Iron: Low ferritin levels (the iron storage form), can also contribute to postpartum mood disorders. While iron is present in prenatal vitamins, sometimes more is needed. Again, a blood test would tell you how much is needed – test, don’t guess!
- Lactation Herbs: There are tons of these – so speak to your ND before buying a particular brand. Goats Rue is an herb that works universally – supporting prolactin, milk production, insulin sensitivity, and the nervous system. But something to keep in mind is that if you’re experiencing milk production issues – it’s usually best to consult with a lactation consultant first before using herbs. Sometimes the latch is the issue!
When determining what exactly you’ll need in the postpartum, it’s important to work with someone who can provide you with the correct information, safe products and dosing.
Catch Your Zzzs
Your sleep quality and quantity may likely change in the postpartum. So if you have an opportunity, rest up before baby comes! Like I mentioned earlier, pregnancy can be like a marathon and preparing your body is important. Whether you’re taking naps throughout the day or going to bed a few hours early – every last bit counts.
When baby arrives and when it’s safe to do so (this article was written as we’re all physical distancing), don’t be afraid to ask for help! Whatever task that can be taken off your hands, and placed into the hands of family and friends will save you time and energy, ad hopefully allow you to get some rest.
Build Your Community
When people say it takes a village – it’s true! Your village doesn’t need to be made up of just family and friends though – healthcare providers can also provide support! The following are some professionals that you may want to seek out. Some clinics (like the one I work at) are tailored towards pregnancy and the postpartum, and usually have most of these services all under one roof (and many provide virtual visits as well).
- Lactation Consultant (In person & virtual): A lactation consultant can be helpful for chest/breastfeeding support, especially promoting a flow and a healthy latch. Usually the first person you should talk to when it comes to feeding.
- Postpartum Doula: A postpartum doula may be helpful at providing support for both you and your newborn. This may include chest/breastfeeding support, completing small tasks around your house (ie. laundry, tidying up), and providing a wealth of knowledge about the postpartum period.
- Therapist (In person & virtual): Sometimes birth doesn’t as expected. You may want to consider adding a therapist to your postpartum team, to help process your delivery and your new role as a parent.
- Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist (In person & virtual): It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to seek a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you’ve had a c-section. Your pelvic floor may still need support! Especially if you experience pelvic girdle pain and diastasis recti abdominus (DRA). Typically, you would see a pelvic floor physiotherapist around 6 weeks after birth.
- Massage Therapist: A massage therapist can be helpful at helping to mobilize scar tissue, especially if there have been any adhesions.
- Naturopathic Doctor (In person & virtual): A naturopathic doctor may be helpful for any postpartum depletion that you may be experiencing (diet-wise, energy/fatigue), and using acupuncture or herbs to help promote healing.
- Acupuncturist: An acupuncturist may be helpful at promoting a general feeling of well being as well as helping with healing.
- Chiropractor (In person & virtual): A chiropractic doctor may be helpful as reducing any aches and pains that you may be feeling, especially neck and pelvic pain.
Be sure to contact these specific healthcare providers to determine when would be the appropriate time to come and see them – especially if you’re noticing physical issues.
Now that you’ve gone through this list and hopefully picked up something new – you may consider checking in with a Naturopathic Doctor like myself to tailor some of these suggestions.
I’m offering virtual appointments during this time to support pregnant people throughout each trimester and the postpartum.