Now that you’ve tackled the monumental task of birthing your baby, you are finally ready to get down to the real work of mothering – learning how to take care of your little one and learning how to take care of yourself in your new role as Mama. Welcome to your postpartum experience! Becoming a mother is, without a doubt, a life-changing event. With that can come drastic changes to lifestyle, sleep, routine, relationships, your body, and personal needs. As a first time parent, the postpartum period is definitely a wild ride – there can be so many highs and lows! I would love to help ease this transition for as many moms as possible and want to share some of my favorite products and practices that can help make this time as comfortable and fruitful as possible. Along with your ice packs & nipple cream you can read about elsewhere, here are some of my natural postpartum essentials you may not yet have on hand.
by Sarah Senter, LAc, ACN of @medicine_kitchen
Red Raspberry Leaf tea is a staple for pregnant & new moms that will help tone the uterus & pelvic floor muscles after childbirth and supply you with a good influx of vitamin C and B. This “women’s herb” will help boost your immunity after giving birth and help your postpartum body heal. You can easily find a red raspberry tea at your health-food store, or buy it in bulk and make an infusion by steeping it for about 4 hours to get all the minerals and nutrients into the water.
Cramp Bark (for second + time moms) is one fo the best herbs traditionally used to soothe afterpains. ‘Afterpains’ are uterine cramps that occur in the immediate days and weeks after giving birth when your uterus is contracting back to it’s normal size. These pains can be minor for first time moms, but with each subsequent birth they tend to be more and more intense. For second and third+ time moms I advise having some cramp bark tincture on hand to help soothe these pains, which can come on strong with hormonal surges during breastfeeding especially. It’s safe for nursing moms and has been used culturally for centuries to relieve uterine pain due to menstrual cramps or after birth.
Weleda Calendula cream is my absolute favorite skin cream for babies… and also postpartum moms! It’s thick & incredibly soothing, anti-inflammatory, calming, and hydrating for face and body. It will remedy dry skin, chafing skin, redness, tiny scratches from tiny fingernails, stretch marks, and even help soothe painful or swollen breasts, if needed. Go ahead and put it on your registry.
Sesame or Brahmi oil (an infused sesame oil), is an invaluable tool in staying grounded during the often topsy-turvy postpartum time. Transitional times in life are generally Vata in nature – Vata is an Ayurvedic term that can refer to a body type but also a season. This season of life is characterized by being irregular, quickly moving, and always changing. This is very much the quality of your postpartum period – when your lifestyle has been turned upside down, your baby is changing day to day, sleep is sparse, and your emotions can be like a roller coaster ride. Oil is a wonderful medium for healing, and the heaviness and viscosity of the oil can calm the nervous system and feel very comforting for the new mom. Sesame oil is warming and grounding and will bring much balance to your body and mind during this time. Apply to your scalp for a calming effect before sleep, or massage into the whole body to calm the nervous system on a daily basis, if needed.
Dulse seaweed is an essential postpartum superfood to have in your pantry. You can eat large dulse flakes in salads, soups, or steep them in herbal tea infusions (like with your red raspberry leaf, of course!), or eat the granule version sprinkled as a seasoning on most any meal. Dulse will keep you mineralized and build your blood quality (it’s very high in iron, vitamin C and protein) while you burn so many calories working hard to take care of that beautiful baby you made with your own body! Building your blood quality back up is so important for many moms after giving birth. Another way to do this is taking iron supplements like Thorne’s Ferrasorb, or Floradix liquid iron + herbs. All of these items can help prevent postpartum anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and more.
The Postpartum Bellefit Corset is one item I really urge you to consider. You may have read many tips on wearing a ‘belly band’ or ‘belly wrap’ after birth to aid in weight loss & help your body regain it’s normal shape, but there are other reasons a corset like this one (and it’s really one of the best) is your friend. You just delivered a baby out of your belly that has been with you for 10 months. Your body will feel a bit vacant, a bit out of sorts… empty perhaps. Your organs are trying to remember where they should go. It feels very supportive and comforting to have something holding you together in the initial days after baby – both physically and emotionally! And yes, the compression will help your belly get flatter faster, help your hips get narrower, ease back pain, and help you avoid the poor posture habits we can get into when holding a baby for hours on end. Win win!
Herbal bath soaking will help heal your perineal area down there so much faster. Buy a prepared herbal sitz bath like this lovely one from WishGarden Herbs, or make your own healing bath with an easy recipe like this one from Dr. Aviva Romm. These herbal blends are not only beautiful and relaxing, but antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and very healing in the first weeks after birth.
There’s another thing I just can’t live without during the postpartum months, and that is carbohydrates! Please don’t forget this humble and often exiled category of food especially if you are nursing mom – you will be burning so many extra calories breastfeeding and/or pumping throughout the day and night, and carbohydrates are essential for your health, stamina, mood, and nervous system throughout this time. You may also find yourself craving carbohydrates for these reasons! Healthy carbs also balance that Vata energy I mentioned earlier. One of my favorite therapeutic foods to bring a new mother is homemade sweet potato pie.
Don’t forget, you are amazing, capable, strong, even miraculous – and you got this!
With love, Sarah
The information included in this article is for educational purposes only—it is in no way intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.