by Gianne Rayandayan, Herbalist
Good job mama!! The hard part is over, or so they say. The birthing process is one of the most amazing miracles many of us will get to experience. If you have ever been through it or seen someone go through it you know just how much energy is expended in this process. It does not end there, the next big feat is healing and for most women, producing milk. Our society tends to focus a lot more on prenatal care, but we like to emphasize the intentional support of moms POST delivery.
Women are considered to be in postpartum during the time between birth and 12 weeks afterwards. This transitional period can take a huge toll on a new mother’s physical and emotional wellness. Hormones are fluctuating, the body is recovering from injury, and new moms are adjusting to a new way of living.
One thing which many professionals agree upon: that postpartum care should be a continuous and collaborative process as opposed to a single meeting. And it makes sense! In working to ‘redefine the postpartum visit’, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends:
1) A meet-up with your provider/doctor/doula within the first three weeks postpartum.
2) Following this, they recommend meetings on a frequent/as-need basis.
3) You would then conclude with a final, comprehensive visit at around 3 months.
You and your healthcare provider would discuss everything from your “mood/emotional wellbeing, infant care/feeding, sexuality, contraception, sleep, energy, physical recovery, chronic disease management”(1). This tailored process is especially important for women who have chronic health conditions, and/or women who’s socio-cultural needs may not fit the ‘box’ of our society’s medical system (3).
That being said, we definitely want to empower new moms between these checkpoints! Let’s break down some of the ways new moms can support themselves postpartum:
Thankfully, supplement-shopping for new moms doesn't have to be overwhelming. Starting with a good postnatal like Pure Essence Mother & Child will hit key micronutrients like Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Iodine and B12. You’ll reap the added benefit of antioxidant and liver-supporting herbs, along with amino acids and enzymes to support digestion, energy and hormone balance. This blend is specifically formulated to help you recuperate from the rigors of giving birth, supports your energy needs during early motherhood, and enriches your breast milk with immune enhancing nutrients.
Other supplements we highly recommend for postpartum moms:
In our recent blogpost on Magnesium, we discuss why this mineral is essential to overall health, with specific regards to supporting nervous system function, promoting rest, and reducing pain. There are three main forms of magnesium to supplement with: malate, citrate, and L-threonate. Citrate has the added benefit of stool-softening, so this could be helpful if postpartum constipation was an issue.
Studies suggest that Magnesium and Omega 3’s are important for improving and preventing symptoms of postpartum depression. This is mostly due to their effects on modulating inflammation, providing support for cellular membrane health function. Because pregnancy and lactation deplete magnesium and omega 3’s from already scant dietary supplies (10, 11), new moms (or anyone, really!) would benefit from adding a nice chelated magnesium and a quality EPA-rich fish oil to their regimen.
Check out our blogpost on Herbs for Mental Wellness for an in-depth look at gentle tonic herbs like Oatstraw, Holy Basil, Lavender, and Chamomile. They are all gentle and effective nervous system tonics that will benefit both mom and baby.
With regards to c-sections or vaginal tearing, topical Calendula and Aloe Vera have been clinically shown to significantly speed up perineal healing (8). We have a nice, cooling Aloe Gelly and homeopathic Calendula cream to try! We also have a convenient sitz bath spray which aids in healing and annoying tissue healing itching that can occur.
For hemorrhoids, we like the astringent and tissue-tonifying herbs in Wise Woman Herbals’ Bottoms Up Capsules. You will find herbs with similar qualities in Motherlove’s Rhoid Balm. Opt for loose, stretchy, and breathable clothing to help with the healing process.
Note: If you notice any symptoms like dizziness, severe headaches coupled with high blood pressure, infection, fever, or any other ‘red flag’ symptoms, you are advised to go straight to your doctor and seek medical attention.
We know that sounds like a tall order! But as cliche as it sounds, sleep is a (truly) non-negotiable pillar for health. This is because so many hormonal and metabolic processes are dependent on it (7). This is where having a support system really comes in handy! Asking for help and keeping spaces as decluttered can also help you feel more rested.
If you want to maximize any postnatal supplements, then you need to be absorbing nutrients properly . Just like sleep, your digestive function is a key player in so many things-- lactation, hormone modulation, mood, energy, immunity, and more.
Of course we always recommend probiotics for optimizing nutrient absorption (certain formulas like New Chapter’s Probiotic All Flora are also specifically designed for things like constipation!). Your body will also have a much easier time digesting warm and cooked foods as opposed to cold, uncooked foods. Opt for mushrooms simmered in organic bone broth, steamed or blanched vegetables, oatmeal, and miso as diet staples.
Adequate recovery time, a trusted ‘team’, community support, and quality nutrition can be absolute game-changers postpartum. At the end of the day, every mom should feel empowered to seek as much support as she needs! Book a complimentary consultation or stop by with any questions you have! We would be happy to help you out :) Common questions that new moms have include how medications and herbs may affect milk supply as well as what can or can not be safely taken while breastfeeding.
Lastly, please check out our blog on the top 3 supplements for baby. We have previously discussed the long term benefits of introducing certain supplements in this critical window of your child development.