Once you give birth, you enter into a transitional period – not only is your body going through physical changes to return back (mostly) to it’s pre-pregnancy status, you now have a baby to care for (which unfortunately doesn’t come with an instruction manual)! This period after birth is often referred as the fourth trimester – and lasts for a few months.
Most of your focus is now on your baby, and making sure she is healthy – after all you’ve invested the last 9 months eating well, sleeping, and taking care of yourself. Nevertheless, it’s important for moms to take care of themselves! After all, we cannot serve from empty vessels. Here are a few ways to ensure that you can take care of your baby and yourself at the same time:
Many of us know the benefits associated with breastfeeding, especially ensuring that your baby’s digestive tract is populated with good bacteria from your breastmilk which helps decrease the risk of getting allergic conditions like asthma, allergies and eczema. There are some moms that struggle with breastfeeding and don’t realize that help is available. A midwife, doula, and lactation consultant can help attain a good latch, and can address any obstacles or complaints you may have. Skin to skin contact is a great way to help your baby bond with you, and will actually help with latching. It also helps with his temperature, breath and heart rate, weight gain and sleep.
If you’re breastfeeding it’s important to make sure you’re well hydrated and well fed. Breastfeeding uses up a lot of energy, so you’ll need to ensure you’re taking in more calories (about 500), and carbohydrates should be your main fuel source. This should be in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.
After giving birth your estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, and around the 3-5th day the baby blues might happen. Many moms experience tearfulness, low spirit, anxiousness, fatigue, and forgetfulness. This is common, but many people don’t discuss it! Have your partner or family ensure you’re getting enough sleep, or have someone visit you while you’re taking care of your baby.
If the blues last for more than a week, then it may be postpartum depression. Your doctor may do a physical exam and run some blood tests to see where your hormones are at. Joining a support group may help you express your feelings with other moms who know exactly what you are going through.
Women tend to place a lot of expectations on themselves to be supermom and accomplish everything – but that can be difficult to achieve when you’re sleep-deprived! As a first-time mom, it may be also difficult to anticipate everything that needs to be done. Accepting support from others, like your partner, family and friends can ease the burden of getting everything accomplished – and may even allow you to get a couple of naps in. A useful tip may be to place a note of all the house chores on your fridge, and have your support system help eliminate those from the list while you enjoy time with your baby (or get said nap). Remember that not everyone is cut out to support you – having people around who will give you confidence and decrease your stress are the best people to have around! If you have a small support system, you may want to consider hiring a post-partum doula.
The fourth trimester can be both a wonderful and stressful period for all moms and their partner. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well as your new baby. If you’re wanting support, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor. Many (including myself) offer 15 minute complimentary consultations where you can determine if you want an ND to be part of your support team as you recover from giving birth to a beautiful baby!