Nourish yourself with postpartum practices and foods! Read on…
In honor of our first monthly mama’s playdate at the studio (and Sherri’s approaching due date), I want to call attention to some ways to support mothers postpartum. In my experience as a new mother, for some reason it was difficult to overtly ask for help, although when help was freely given, I desperately drank it up and wailed tears of gratitude. The later stages of pregnancy and early stages postpartum have been in my experience a time of high emotion, general fogginess and the fierce softness that comes with labor, delivery and the precious time with a fresh new baby. My mom describes this time as existing “between two worlds” and I have not yet found a better way to describe it. Becoming a mother is to be the vessel of the incarnation of spirit. The veil between the two worlds is sheer, leaving the mother feeling both otherworldly and animalistic, both spirit and entirely human in all its rawness. This kind of sensitivity may be new, or not, but either way, there is nothing quite like it.
I can not speak to every woman’s experience of pregnancy but the second time around for me was settling, a call to slow down. After the baby was born, it was a time to do less and take rest, to be present with new baby, and to allow the healing process (and rest and relaxation is an absolutely necessary state for healing). There have been so many blogs written about ways to support new mothers postpartum. Do the laundry, bring meals, don’t stay too long (if at all), come by and hold the baby while mama showers, etc. All of this advice is very helpful. I want to delve a little deeper into who to invite as a supportive caretaker after the baby is born and the most nourishing foods to eat for the optimal digestion and healing.
Here’s the thing: Whether you’ve had a textbook birth, a long labor with emergency c-section, an epidural, a natural homebirth in the tub, etc., birth is traumatic for the body! And you are still between two worlds months after the baby is born, so you may feel like you’re floating (free floating emotions are very real at this time – LOVE in a way you’ve never felt before, worry, anxiety, exhaustion, sadness, etc. all in the same minute). So here’s the message I want to convey through this post – ASK FOR HELP and NOURISH YOURSELF with healthy, healing, womb-friendly foods. Your digestive system will be delicate and in need of restorative and balancing foods (see recipe list below!). You will want to be surrounded by those you love and feel supported by. Your mother and/or mother-in-law may be lovely women, but depending on the nature of those relationships, you may want to put limitations on those visitations. You can have your partner gently direct visitors to protect you and your space. In my experience, women friends who prepare delicious foods are my favorite. They come by and kiss your forehead, ask if you need any help, and leave the food. An idea I borrowed from a friend, I sent out an email before the baby came to all the women I love and feel supported by to ask for their help – a beautiful exercise for me in opening up and acceptance. (Pictured below is Christine lovely delivering fresh juice and nut milk to a postpartum friend!)
Postpartum doulas and caretakers are available for hire! It is worth the money to spend this precious and glorious time in peace and wellbeing.
You may find that you are more hungry breastfeeding than you were during pregnancy. Postpartum, I craved warm soupy protein-laden foods (my baby was born in March so it was cold outside) like oatmeal and rice/lentil dishes with lots of Indian spices. Kitarchi is an Ayurvedic dish made with mung beans and rice that pacifies all the body types and is very healing and restorative. Fennel tea, molasses, and sunflower seed butter helps to bring in the breastmilk. A cup of tea with sunflower butter and hemp seeds (and maybe some honey or maple syrup) on toast is a nice snack. Fresh juices made with beets and greens are really also really nice. Here are some links to recipes that I really enjoyed. I also recommend the book, The Whole Pregnancy Handbook for pregnancy and breastfeeding nutrition information.
Healing Ayurvedic Kitchari by Natureal Mom
Nepali Rice Pudding Recipe by Real Foods Witch
Here’s a nice resource from Seed to Health – my favorite recipe is the Lentil Rice Casserole.
I ate a lot of oatmeal with coconut butter and dressed it up with goji berries and hemp seeds (PROTEIN!), bananas, cinnamon, or whatever flavors you are feeling.
Feeling supported and nourished allows us to heal, grow and learn. It is so very important.