Healing With Heat, Postpartum & Elements to Consider When Preparing In PregnancyJan 18, 2021
You’re having a baby. Or perhaps you gave birth recently? Congratulations are in order, either way! There are so many things we do to celebrate and serve expecting parents as they anxiously await the arrival of their little one. Yet most often in modern day America there is so little that we do to serve and support families, especially the birthing person, in the days, weeks and months that follow the day of birth. Focus on the fun? Sure. Showers and gifts are great. But are they providing families with what they truly need to flourish as they step foot into parenthood?
American culture needs a reality check. Can I get a heck yes here? Leaning on traditional ancient wisdom is something many families near and far could benefit from. Learn from lineage, and do so in a way that honors those who came before you, eager to share the gifts. While this may not be the case for every Postpartum Doula, in the work that I do I can tell you that I value and place great importance on going to the source directly within cultures other than mine to learn. This is a process of asking permission and offering compensation to learn in a respectful manner that pays credit to those who so generously share what they know and pass down practices they've learned.
Cultures spanning the globe know the importance of protecting this pocket of time following birth. Here in America, why are we still failing families in this department? Why are we quick to pile on pressure to perform and bounce back without considering the short and long term consequences of rushing through a time that deserves attention? So okay...focus on the fun. This truly is a time to celebrate! But let’s also focus, and I mean laser focus, on setting up families for success in this sacred chapter. Slow down. Settle in. Soak it up.
Being trained in Ayurvedic Postpartum Healing along with Yoga (as a 200 RYT), I want to briefly introduce you to two of the simple ways that warmth can facilitate healing in the first 40 days. Birth is a cooling process, so bringing heat to what you take in can help to restore your energetic balance, both physically and mentally in this time. There is SO MUCH MORE to this, but let's start with baby steps that shed light on a bite-size serving of information to implement. Here we'll touch on how to introduce warmth into what you eat for nourishment and drink for hydration before uncovering a few elements to consider when planning for postpartum.
Fill Your Bowl
Foods in the first days and weeks should be easily digestible as you work to re-stoke the digestive fire that may have been depleted through the cooling event of birth. Cooked grains that are warm, soups or stews that hold hearty ingredients and healthy fats...these simple staples with warming spices help to replenish nutrients your body is rapidly consuming as you heal.
Say goodbye to that quick sandwich that likely holds very little nutritional value. Welcome in a warm bowl of soup with simple ingredients that swim in nourishing broth. Invite a trusted friend or family member to stand stove side, chopping and preparing this bubbling pot of love while lending an ear. The magic here is not only in what you are taking in, but also what you're able to let out as you process through your feelings and emotions.
Fill Your Cup
While we may think of tea as a beverage designed for morning wake up or evening wind down, siping warm herbal tonics or broth throughout the day can keep that internal fire at a gentle roar. Plain, cold water can be challenging for many fresh mothers to take in throughout the day, yet hydration is essential to healing and making milk. In warm tea form, there are benefits through herbs that promote breast milk production, while also bringing varied flavors to the forefront. Bringing broths in the mix adds vital mineral replenishment, balanced with healthy fats.
Gather around a kettle with someone who will serve you well in this time of transition. As they fill your cup, allow it to be not only with tea. When they pour out a gorgeous concoction of herbs and warm water, what can YOU take in from this opportunity of gathering and friendship? When they bring you a beautiful mug of broth, what can they take off of your list of to-do's? What can you let go of in order to grab hold of this time that is so precious? Friends will find time to visit. Exceptional friends will find time to fold laundry or wash dishes as you rest.
Taking a reflection to my own postpartum experiences, I was the mom who "had it all together." WRONG. I had it all together on the outside. Internally, I was a mess. One hotter than the cup of tea I urge you to sip on. A hot, dang mess. I didn't dare ask for help, let alone take anyone up on an off to help. Don't be like me. You and your postpartum transition deserve more than that.
Things to consider when cultivating your postpartum experience:
- Preparing While Pregnant. We focus so much on the day of birth. While that does warrant attention and focus, so does the time that follows birth. Set yourself up for a smooth transition by taking the time to think about what you want your initial (AND extended) postpartum chapters to look and feel like. What can you implement NOW while pregnant to foster support in the first weeks and months with a new baby?
- Postpartum Doula Support. Have you heard of a Postpartum Doula? It’s a thing! And whether it’s day or night care you’re after, there is likely a specialist in your community who is ready and willing to help you navigate this special, yet tender time. Support can vary, but many are there to help with light house holding tasks as well as caring for you AND baby.
- Postpartum Care. What do visits with your provider look like AFTER your baby is born? When do these visits start and how often are they happening? Are they in your home or in an office? I ask these questions because just as prenatal care mirrors the birth experience you are wanting, postpartum care can too. Are you supporting your providers preferences in terms of time and location? Or are they supporting yours?
- Make A List. Give your guests something to do. Sure, everyone wants to come see the baby, snuggle the baby, swoon over the baby...but more often than not, this leaves the guests tended to while one or both parents take on tasks that others can help with.
- Division of Duties. Who currently does the daily (weekly, monthly, etc?) tasks of house holding in your home? Is this invisible load shared? If it is kept by a parent who will be staying home with baby while one return to work, is that something that feels realistic while trying to thrive in the fourth trimester?
If you are still pregnant now, in what ways have you prepared for what happens beyond birth? If this is not your first time birthing, you may have insight to borrow from your previous experience. What did you need then that you didn’t know you needed until you were in that sacred chapter? If this is your postpartum experience, how can you set yourself up now, to feel supported both short and long-term?
If you are fresh in the postpartum chapter now, in what ways could you be better supported? What needs are you now aware of that you may not have been prior to birth?