A Nurtured Postpartum – Guest Post – Bright Beginnings
And so it is, a new mother has been born.
Postpartum is a time like no other. It can be many things, but it will no doubt transform our hearts and our lives. As a modern culture we prepare very well for birth, and also for a new baby. Preparing appropriately and thoughtfully for postpartum however, is often overlooked.
You are the body that built baby. Now you’ve birthed her too.
Let this time be sacred not forsaken, as a vital aspect of transformation from maiden to mother; those raw and early weeks of new life maintain a beautiful fragility allowing us to exist in our most vulnerable and sensitive state. It is a call for tenderness, surrender, and permission to be still with our young.
In other cultures around the world, postpartum is recognized and respected as an impressionable time for both mother and baby. Therefore, after birth and often for the first month (or forty days) the new mother is given reprieve from all responsibility except caring for her new child.
She is nurtured, nourished, and cradled by her community.
A modern mother requires many of the same things. If granted a similar period of grace, she can emerge stronger, and more capable in the months and years ahead.
A Nurtured Postpartum
Rest – consider the first month after your baby is born as a time to pause from routine, schedules, or expectation. Let your new normal be spacious, open, and unstructured so you can relax into the art of being, not doing. One day soon life will resume a resemblance of what it once was. In the meantime, rest, recover, recalibrate, and heal.
Warmth – heat is the only unbound element – it can transcend all physical limitations or boundaries. Warmth is a key foundation for postpartum healing since it allows energy, blood, and even emotion to flow more freely. A new mother and baby recover from birth best when they are kept warm, both in temperature and in essence.
Nourishment – an enormous amount of energy is expended during labour, and how smoothly a mother recovers will be directly influenced by her nutrition. If planning to breastfeed, proper nourishment will also invite a plentiful and healthful milk supply. Reduce inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, refined grains, and caffeine. Focus on wholesome warming foods, and soft, nutrient-rich meals like broths, soups, and hearty stews.
Though dairy is not an inherently unhealthy food it can be problematic when recovering from birth. It slows our digestion down, increases inflammation, and can be a trigger for digestive stress in babies.
Hydration – liquids provide a vessel to cleanse the body while the orchestra of hormones re-balance and fall into place. Water is vital to producing breastmilk, and to replenishing our cells after the hard work of giving birth. Focus on warm drinks like herbal teas, broth, and room temperature liquids. Cold water or icy drinks inhibit blood-flow to the womb, which needs warmth and adequate circulation to return to its pre-pregnancy state.
Support – Sink sweetly into motherhood and tuck into your newborn by relaxing into your village of care. It can be hard to agree to such support since we are a culture of isolation and nuclear living; accept gifts of time, energy, cooking, or tidying. Give yourself permission to be nurtured – you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Lisa Hewitt is the soul-filled Holistic Nutritionist (and Mama!) at Bright Beginnings with a special focus on nourishing pregnancy and postpartum, and inspired infant nutrition. Please join her at www.healthybrightbeginnings.com.