Congratulations, you had just had your bundle of joy. And although this is the most joyoua time so begins the journey of motherhood and healing. Postnatal attention is very important during recovery and the initiation of your milk supply too.
The main question moms ask during pregnancy is how to make more milk....not necessarily how will I recover.
I became a postnatal doula to assist moms with the transition into motherhood mainly to recognize the power moms have..because it's already there...and to assist them with harnessing it. But even Superman or Supermom must eat.
Postpartum recovery is so much more than just the snap back. I see so many moms that share their postpartum journeys but they are almost always focused on how much weight a mom can lose in her six week postpartum recovery rather than how she is healing. These stories are important but they must include how these moms should properly heal and give the body time to heal and return to homeostasis.
Technically, after pregnancy your body still thinks you’re still growing a baby. Your baby is just outside of the womb. That means nourishing yourself should remain a huge priority.
Gasp.....you just had a baby....YOU LOOK GREAT MOM!!!
I often wonder, despite the hard work moms put in to look good...is she at her healthiest for optimal recovery. Statistics have shown that postpartum recovery can take up to two years for mom to feel like herself again depending on the type of birth she had and the number of babies at birth and between each child. The circumstances of your birth can leave you feeling very tired and you MUST replenish your energy and take in additional nutrients to account for blood loss and wound healing (particularly if you’ve had a perineal tear or a surgical birth).
It is very easy to forget to eat or under eat with a new baby, especially if you don't have anyone preparing meals for you. Utilize family and friends that ask what can I do for you??
How about a meal train, Karen??
Arrange to have meals delivered to you every day by rotating days with family and friends. Have pre-made freezer meals ready and lots of snacks on hand. I advise moms to make a tray with foods that will last your throughout the day. Every time baby eats you eat a light meal or snack as well as drink your water.
But food is important to your milk supply as well as recovery. Now we do not recommend moms back off eating the foods they enjoy but I am certainly not recommending you indulge in those not so healthy cravings often. Healthy and nutritious meals will aid you in recovery and maintaining and increasing your milk supply. But first...
To mAkE mORe MilK YoU hAVe tO maKe mOrE MilK!!
Now that we've gotten that important PSA out of the way let's take a look at how we can help support your recovery and your milk supply:
Eat, honey! EAT!!!! Simply eating regularly and getting enough calories will support your recovery and milk supply.
WATER!! Hydration is important in healing and making milk. Breast milk is almost 90% water so drink up. Not too much but just enough for thirst! 2-3 qts a day should be enough, however monitor your body and if you’re thirsty drink more.
Keep warm, honey! Eat warm foods such as soups or meals that includes a source of protein, a portion of green salad, a grain such as millet or rice, and cooked vegetables such as yam, carrot, and fennel.
Spice moderately with lactogenic spices, Avoid food that is hard to digest such as fried or extremely fatty food.
Take probiotic yogurt or lactobacilli supplements to protect your intestinal flora and to help prevent colic and allergy in your baby(1).
Get healthy fats such as butter and olive oil, and remember to supplement with essential fatty acids.
Herbs useful after birth include stinging nettle to rebuild the blood lost during birth, turmeric, to help prevent breast inflammation. Herbs also increase milk supply, so keep an eye on your supply and reduce or increase your dosage of these herbs as necessary.
A traditional remedy used in the early postpartum phase is homemade chicken soup, simmered with the bones for several hours and rich with chicken fat. It has been known to prevent depression, to restore a mother's vitality, and to help develop an abundant milk supply.
The fourth trimester is the most difficult because it’s adjusting to the new normalcy of motherhood and a new normalcy of you, honey! Surround yourself with family and friends that truly have YOUR best interest at heart. Those that won’t be offended if you say...Not today! and those that jump at the chance to make your recovery time easier not necessarily faster. We pay close attention to babies and forget about moms and the new world she has just entered into.
So, I challenge you if you have a new mom to be in your life plan a postpartum shower instead of a baby shower. Hire postnatal doulas as a family to help mom with household duties and errands. A Moms only intern should be eating, healing, learning and establishing her milk supply. These are the gifts moms truly need and realize after they have had a baby. Shower mom with the love and courage to become her best self.
I offer postnatal services here.
How can we help you achieve your goals today, honey!
**** This blog post does not intend to replace medical advice given from a healthcare provider. All mothers should consider the following: If you do not have low milk supply, and you take an abundance of herbs and foods to increase your supply, you may create unnecessary difficulties for yourself such as over-supply, engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis. Your baby may develop colic due to too much foremilk, or sucking difficulties due to an overly strong let-down reflex, both of which are common with over-supply. Use these foods and herbs wisely, and reduce or stop their use if you notice such problems.