Four Important Ways to Care For Your Postpartum Body
So you just had a baby and you’re reeling with excitement – but you’re also exhausted, filled with questions, and so thirsty. No one warned you about that last part, did they? Yep. Completely normal.
As a new mom, you were likely overloaded all at once with what appeared to be an endless list of do’s, don’ts, and things to watch for in yourself and your new baby. It’s not easy to take in all that information in one sitting. Especially while also soaking in these first moments with the baby you birthed mere hours ago.
Trust me, I know you probably don’t remember most of the information the discharge nurse went over with you. How could you bring yourself to pay attention to anything but the precious new baby on your chest? You probably got all the important baby info and not so much of the important mommy info. Because of this, I’ve put together a list of vital tips to ensure you are taking the utmost care of your postpartum body.
Rest, Rest, Rest, and Rest Some More
I know. I know. Much easier said than done. There are so many chores to do – most of them brought to you courtesy of your new baby love. And there are so many newborn baby moments to soak in. Oh, and you’re still buzzing from this monumental change in your life – recounting every last detail of how it came to be.
Seriously though, it’s important that you take a break from swooning over your sleeping newborn and actually get some sleep yourself. Giving birth is exhausting work and your body needs quality rest to heal. You didn’t only birth your precious baby. You also birthed your placenta – which left a wound the size of a dinner plate in your uterus. It is imperative that you rest and refrain from overexerting yourself to properly heal the internal wounds left from childbirth.
It is also important to note that extended periods of poor sleep quality in new mothers are linked to increased chances of postpartum depression. One in seven women is diagnosed with postpartum depression. Poor sleep quality makes you over three times more likely to be this one in seven. It is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health that you get as much sleep as you can during your fourth trimester.
**Check out The Safe Sleep Seven to learn more about co-sleeping safely.
You remember that part about the unquenchable thirst you feel after giving birth? Well, it doesn’t go away after a few days. This will be a significant fourth-trimester symptom for the months to come – especially if you breastfeed. Go ahead and invest in the biggest reusable water jug you can find. You’re going to need it.
It is essential for you to stay hydrated no matter what season of life you’re in – but it is especially important postpartum. It is likely that your primary focus during labor wasn’t to remain hydrated. Your body will need to rehydrate. It will also need to stay hydrated to promote healing, reduce
fatigue, and help your milk supply come in if you choose to breastfeed.
Breast milk is eighty-eight percent water. This means staying hydrated is a crucial part of maintaining your breast milk supply. Breastfeeding moms should drink at least three liters of water a day – right under a gallon or a whole gallon if you’re an overachiever. This sounds like a lot, but I promise you’ve never been as thirsty as you will be during your fourth trimester. As long as you make a point to stop and drink at each sign of thirst throughout the day, that gallon will be easily obtainable.
** Make sure your water is pure with Berkey Water Filters!
Eat Well-Balanced Meals
If you’re breastfeeding, you will need to eat roughly four hundred extra calories a day to maintain your breast milk supply. While your breastmilk is over eighty percent water, vital nutrients from your daily diet will also pass through your breast milk to your baby. Eating a well-balanced meal and continuing your prenatal vitamins is a great way to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients they need.
It’s important to eat a variety of fruits, veggies, proteins, fiber, and complex carbs during your fourth trimester. A well-balanced diet will help speed up recovery and maintain your energy supply. If you’re on your third cup of coffee for the day wondering why you’re still feeling groggy, it’s time to eat a meal. One with whole foods – not the bag of chips in your pantry.
Again, much easier said than done. Caring for a newborn and resting every chance you get doesn’t leave much room for planning and prepping well-balanced meals. This is something you should call on your support system to assist with – you know all the friends and family that are begging for an excuse to see your new baby.
And if you don’t have a support system close by to help, a postpartum doula is a wonderful substitute. If you need a postpartum doula or meal-prepping service in the Charlotte, NC area, I’m the all-in-one you’ve been looking for. Contact me for a completely personalized support plan.
**Download this complimentary Postpartum Meal Plan!
Give Yourself Grace
Your body performed a miracle. You grew life within your womb for ten months. You spent countless hours birthing that life into this world. You grew and birthed an entire human being. Miraculous, and also messy. Your body will feel different – foreign almost. You will feel different. Because not only did you birth new life into this world – you also birthed a new you into this world. Mom you.
It’s going to take some time to get to know this new you and also the new life you brought into this world. And that’s okay. No journey through motherhood is linear. It’s not like climbing a ladder of milestones at a steady pace. It’s ups and downs and sometimes spirals too. Give yourself grace to tread this journey at your own pace. Because motherhood is a journey – not a race.
“Breastfeeding.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 28 July 2015, https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/breastfeeding.
Citron, Brittany. “The Most Important Nutrition Tip.” PROnatal Fitness, 8 June 2022, https://pronatalfitness.com/2018/10/01/the-most-important-nutrition-tip/.
Dørheim, Signe Karen, et al. “Sleep and Depression in Postpartum Women: A Population-Based Study.” Sleep, Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, July 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704916/.
“Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Only Water Source Young Infants Need Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).” Exclusive Breastfeeding - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Rehydration Project, LINKAGES: Breastfeeding, LAM, Related Complementary Feeding, Maternal Nutrition Program, and Academy for Educational Development (AED) by the Bureau for Global Health of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), June 2004, https://rehydrate.org/breastfeed/faq-exclusive-breastfeeding.htm.
Iranpour, Sohrab, et al. “Association between Sleep Quality and Postpartum Depression.” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : the Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 7 Nov. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5322694/
“Maternal Diet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 May 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html.
Pallarito, Karen. “Your Postpartum Nutrition Guide.” What to Expect, 27 Aug. 2021, https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/postpartum/postpartum-diet-nutrition-questions-answered/.
“Postpartum Diet and Exercise.” Parenthelp123, 2015, https://www.parenthelp123.org/pregnancy/after-pregnancy/postpartum-nutrition/.
W;, Mughal S;Azhar Y;Siddiqui. “Postpartum Depression.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30085612/.