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10 tips for postpartum recovery

Supporting yourself throughout the postpartum period is of great value for both your and your baby’s future. We reached out for advice to Synmia Rosine, herbalist and doula, who gave birth to her third child this summer.   

1. Get educated
Postpartum is such an important period for the overall health and wellness of mother, baby and family. One often thinks pregnancy and birth are challenging, but the fourth trimester can catch you off guard. If you are able to take care of yourself, you can prepare yourself better to be a good parent. When hormones and emotions are constantly fluctuating and when you are trying to adjust to this new life with a newborn baby, it is easy to forget what helps you feel at peace. It’s nice to then have support from family and friends who are aware or even educated on the effects of postpartum.

2. Give yourself grace
Be kind and tell yourself, ‘my hormones are raging, I’m feeding this child, keeping it alive, keeping my home together, keeping myself together.’ Give yourself grace and just lie down for twenty minutes instead of forcing whatever it is you think needs doing. Rest is not just laying down and closing your eyes. It’s laying down, calming your thoughts and allowing yourself to have this moment without guilt-tripping yourself.

3. Move your body
While laying down and resting during the postpartum period is important, your body will start to become tight. Especially if you are breastfeeding exclusively. That is why it is important to move and to allow blood and oxygen to flow through from head to toe. If you are experiencing bouts of depression or baby blues, insecurity or confusion, movement can really help. Whether it is taking a ten-minute walk, motivating yourself to walk to the park, doing hip openers or breathwork. Everything classifies as movement.

4. (Re)connect through nature
A beautiful exercise for you when you are feeling a little overwhelmed is connecting with the outside world and aligning with nature. Stepping into nature reminds you of who you are. It grounds you. Hearing the wind rustling through the leaves, really tuning in to what is around you and allowing that to connect you to your body and yourself.

5. Nourish yourself
How you nourish your body is important. Diet is the main source of mental health because gut health is mental health and vice versa. Take note of how certain things affect you. In the fourth trimester, you can up your snacking and make sure your diet is packed with proteins, fats and vitamins. Raw avocado with salt and pepper is great and so are nuts, kidney beans, tempeh, high protein tofu and lentil stews. Quick and easy meals that have all the nutrients to produce the milk you need. If you are well nourished, you can nourish your baby. Fenugreek seeds are my secret magical everything. It is great for your hair and skin and for your milk production too. Brewed as a normal tea, one glass a day gives you everything you need, including smelling like maple syrup.

6. Schedule family time
As a mother, you tend to keep going and with a newborn, the rest of the family can be devoid of attention. It helps to find ways to show up for and support your family and kids. Doing something together makes it easier. Schedule free time together. Your entire life is not dedicated to entertaining your children, but you can have family time together, cooking together, washing up together. Maybe you are all close to each other, each doing their own activity. The kids play, draw or build. Not dragging them along through all the tasks and chores we have to do or devoting your ultimate attention to them, but teaching them.

7. Just breathe
There are different levels of self-care. One is taking baths, but also doing face rituals, getting massages to help you get back into your body. But the biggest part of self-care is taking time for yourself. The word meditation can be a little daunting, but it’s a great way to find out what part of your body, life or mind needs healing. If you’re new to it, try a guided meditation and just breathe through uncomfortable feelings or whatever trauma comes up. Breath is life and often we don’t realize how we breathe, taking short breaths, holding our breaths when we are feeling anxious. Breathing consciously is one of the key things in life.

8. Lovingly come back into your sexual energy
Feeling sexual again is something a lot of people struggle with postpartum up until years after birth. But a big part of postpartum health is sex. Whether it’s masturbating or just having time to get back into your body and feel sexual again. Communicate with your partner and ask them to massage you, or to do foreplay. You don’t even need to go anywhere near your genitals or anywhere you don’t feel ready. Discover new ways to be sexual with each other without rushing to the deed. It can be a fun aspect of the postpartum period, the rediscovery of your sexual energy and the sexual energy between you and your partner.

9. Implement rest
Rest is essential. Real, genuine rest, with no phones and no tv. Give yourself twenty minutes to calm down before you turn off the lights at night, whether it be reading or meditating or stretching, as long as it is some sort of quiet time. Then put yourself to sleep up to eight hours a day. It doesn’t have to be in one stretch as your baby will most likely need attention during the night, you can also take short naps whenever you find a moment. Communicate to your partner or your support system when you need a break and don’t scroll or write emails or even read. Allow your whole body to really rest.

10. Motivate yourself
Motivating yourself is beneficial to overall mental health during the postpartum period. Looking in the mirror and saying to yourself ‘you got this, it’s fine, you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know how you’re going to do it, but you’re going to’, really helps. Affirm your own existence and motivate yourself to go for a thirty-minute walk or to watch a documentary when it’s going to inspire you to be creative. Don’t forget whatever it is that feeds you. Being your own motivator and setting up your affirmations will not only motivate you, but also help you to change the chemistry of your brain, scientists have proven.

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