Carrying a baby, birthing a baby, and mothering a baby is one of the biggest life experiences. This transformational journey continues once baby joins a family earthside. Each mother deserves time and space to heal from the effort of birth, honoring her own unique circumstances and needs. Planning ahead for the fourth trimester can impact your entire postpartum experience. Studies have shown that care, nourishment, and guidance during this time can result in long term health benefits to mother, baby, and the entire family.
No matter what type of birth you experienced, your body went through a significant transformation. This time is about you mamas and your body needs rest. In Chinese culture, “Zou yuezi” is a sacred 40 day period following birth that is a time to shower the new mother with nourishment and self care through therapeutic baths and deep oil massages. In Western culture you may not be able to set aside a full 40 days and we understand that, but try making your first two weeks postpartum a sacred time, bonding with baby and resting.
“Mothers cannot give from a depleted source. Every mother needs emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual validation, nourishment, and support. When a mother is respected and well cared for, she, and her whole family, will benefit.” - A motherwoman principle
In our childbirth education classes at Blooma we encourage students to abide by the 5-5-5 rule the best they can. New mothers should plan to spend at least 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, and 5 days near the bed. Do you remember birthing your placenta? There is a wound that size that needs to heal. Low activity and rest can promote healing of the perineal tissues, allow birther’s organs to reposition themselves, and reduce the length of postpartum bleeding. Have your partner or others bring you anything and everything you may need. Request warm nourishing foods from your support team. According to research, warm, soft foods such as bone broth, soups, or a good combination of carbs, protein and fats can help aid in digestion and provide the needed energy to nourish you and your babies body.
After speaking with several postpartum mothers about their postpartum experience, responses were very individual and unique. More than once, however, mamas noted they wished they would have asked more for what they need. You are the gatekeeper of your space. You may decide to decline visitors until you and your partner have enjoyed alone time to connect, get a handle on breastfeeding, and rest. It’s important to keep in mind that following birth you will experience physical and emotional changes, many of which happen within the first 2- 6 weeks. This can be a sensitive time. If you don’t feel comfortable being naked, crying, or sleeping in front of certain family or friends here are a couple ways to decline visitors until you are ready.
*Avoid posting on social media outlets unless you are ready for people to start reaching out.
*Ignore your phone. Honestly, this is one of the times in your life it’s totally acceptable to be severely tardy in your replies to text, emails, and voicemails.
*Leave a nice sign on the doorstep saying thank you for celebrating in the arrival of our little one, we are not quite ready for visitors but will let you know when we are.
You may be a mama who is dreading all the alone time and know you will crave connection with others. Make a list before baby arrives that includes family and friends who have flexibility in the daytime or evening to stop by and keep you company. A postpartum doula can be an amazing lifeline and worth every penny. Postpartum doulas have specialized training for childbirth recovery, emotional well-being, and breastfeeding. Postpartum doulas can help during the day or night. If you would like a list of local postpartum doulas please reach out to a Blooma staff member and we will hook you up!
Regardless of what kind of postpartum choices you envision will best suite you and your family, have a list of people nearby you can call on to help you feel nourished, held, and supported.
Attention family and friends of a new parent: Consider asking, “How can I help you?” or think “What can I do to make your life easier?” Instead of bringing a baby gift, bring a meal. Something that can be put in the freezer is a gift that will be received with gratitude. Offer to help with laundry, care for baby so mother can take a healing bath or nap, or bring the older children to school. We’ve included a great list of helpful “gift” ideas for new moms below:
Padsicles (see Educator Jamie’s recipe here!)
Healing Herb Soaks (we sell a variety at Blooma St. Paul & Minneapolis)
Set up a meal train or drop off a meal on the front steps
Robe (mamas keep this by your door and put it on before someone arrives to give the hint they shouldn’t stay long)
Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be. You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com