By: Kali MacIsaac, HBSc, ND
Ten Perfect Fingers, Ten Perfect Toes
Being handed your brand new baby after many months of anticipation is unlike anything you’ve been through before. You count ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes and exhale – finally you meet face to face! With new priorities, you’ll be rearranging your life to take care of this most precious addition – but don’t forget your body has just been through something tougher than a marathon! Postpartum care is about keeping your babe healthy and happy, and also about allowing your body and mind to recover. Here are some things to remember during this crucial period:
Natural Medicine Postpartum Care for New Mamas
First thing’s First
Remember that your body has just been through the wringer. We can only take care of others when we’ve taken care of ourselves first, and this postpartum period is critical to getting you back to your best self!
There’s no such thing as Super-Mom
You will be fantastic at this new job, and accepting help is not a sign of failure – ask for help and accept it. Others are happy to contribute and you need to recover.
Talk about it
Talk to family members and girlfriends about their postpartum experiences to prepare yourself for what to expect. Make up some of the natural medicine products I list below, so you’re set once you and your new babe are home.
During the postpartum period, it’s important to care for your body outside and in. The following are some natural medicine tips to make this time easier. All of the salves and sprays can be made ahead of time, and kept in your bathroom for post-delivery care.
While pregnant, a woman’s nutritional requirements are increased, and calorie consumption goes up by 300kcal/day. With breastfeeding, however, the requirements jump to 500kcal/day above normal. Make sure you’re eating enough calories and getting lots of good fats in your diet (avocado, coconut oil, fish oil, almonds etc.) so you have everything you need to feed your babe. Keep taking your prenatal vitamin too – I recommend women take their prenatal throughout pregnancy and for about 6 months after if breastfeeding.
Sore Nipple Cream
All that feeding can take its toll! Combine equal parts coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter for a great natural nipple cream. If you don’t have all three, coconut oil alone can work quite well, applied as needed before and after nursing. These oils are safe for baby, just wipe of excess before feeding.
Postpartum Blues Buster
To avoid postpartum depression, use a combination of geranium and bergamot essential oils diluted in a small spray bottle of water. Add 2-3 drops of each, and use as a room spray throughout the house. These uplifting scents are good for balancing your hormones and your mood.
Witch Hazel Mama Pads
While your body is healing, witch hazel should be your go-to product. It helps relieve swelling, but can also reduce the size of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, relieves pain of a sore perineum and speeds healing time. You can put it right on your skin, in a sitz bath or make these fantastic mama pads with it. Buy some large overnight pads, saturate in witch hazel, and stick them in the freezer. The cool pads will reduce inflammation and itch, and the witch hazel will soothe and ensure prompt healing of a sore perineum.
Lastly, be sure to absolutely enjoy this time with your new baby! Lots of cuddling, skin-to-skin bonding, and kisses will make your baby feel cared for and fill up your emotional cup. Rest, breathe, and be present in these moments – they don’t last forever, and they’re some of the sweetest you’ll have.
Dr. Kali MacIsaac is a Naturopathic Doctor in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In her practice, she is interested in exploring the “why” with her patients – she is willing to challenge the idea that health equals the absence of disease, and is interested in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to help her patients reach their optimal potential. Dr. MacIsaac has a general practice, but has a special interest in working with digestive health, reproduction and fertility, paediatrics, hormonal balance, and chronic disease. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter (@kalimacisaac), and on her website.