In many cultures, post-partum care is considered a normal and essential part of care for a new family, in particular, for the new mother. Here in Australia though, there is a very different focus – we invest a lot of energy and time into falling pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby and then once the baby is born, the mother and her new family are on their own with a new little creature on their hands, a new dynamic in their relationship, seriously disrupted sleep and a barrage of family and friends who want to visit. The post-partum time is arguably the most challenging times in one’s life, yet for many of us, we forget to seek help at this time. The good news is that there is so much that can be done to help the mother’s body get back on track and support her and her family through this crazy time.
Let’s have a look at a few common ailments for new mothers and how we can support them with natural remedies:
- Keep taking your pregnancy multivitamin – your body has just given its all to your infant and is going to continue to whilst you are feeding her. Take your multivitamin throughout breastfeeding and don’t forget to start taking it again 3 months prior to trying to have another baby (if you can even think about that yet!)
- Eat lots of highly nutritious (loads of vegetables and organic meat if you eat meat) cooked foods including bone broths. You will need to build your iron stores back up – so good quality red meat and dark green leafy vegetables will help here. Bone broths are a great source of collagen and gelatine which provide the building blocks for connective tissue – this will help your body to rebuild after the marathon of delivery, support breast milk production, and repair of any loose ligaments or diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle. Cooked food is easiest to digest and considered warming and nourishing from a Chinese Medicine perspective. For best results try and get someone else to cook for you!
- Support your adrenal glands – Your adrenals control your stress response and sleep-wake cycles. The stress of parenting, combined with a lack of sleep takes a huge toll on your adrenal glands. You can mitigate this toll by supporting your adrenal glands with herbs such as Rhodiola and Withania as well as nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium.
- Support your immune system with probiotics and Echinacea – getting sick when you are breastfeeding and parenting is less than ideal and adds to the difficulty of the already difficult task. We suggest that you take a good quality probiotic (ask your naturopath) as well as some Echinacea (high quality is also essential here) will help to support both you and your babies immune systems and help to reduce the risk of mastitis (if mastitis does occur, please contact your naturopath – it can be dealt with naturally with the right remedies).
- Get your iron levels checked with your GP – ideally, you will have been supplementing your iron throughout pregnancy. If you haven’t that’s OK – when you see your GP, ask her to test your iron levels and iron stores (ferritin). Talk to your naturopath about ideal levels and supplement with a non-constipating form of iron if needed. Low iron will make you feel tired, cold, give you brain fog and lower your immunity, so getting your stores back up can be a real game-changer for new mums.
- Deal with any structural issues for yourself or baby as soon as possible – see your chiropractor or osteopath if you are experiencing skeletal issues and take baby along to a practitioner who specialises in infant care to deal with issues such as tongue-tie, breastfeeding issues or to rebalance after a difficult birth (for both of you). Do your pelvic floor and diastasis exercises! The sooner your body is back to being strong again, the sooner you can get out and enjoy some of the activities you have been missing out on during pregnancy (like dancing, running or sneezing in public!)
- If you are having any more specific issues such as depression, thrush, urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness, mastitis, sugar cravings, poor milk supply, insomnia or any issues with your babies health, please book in to see your naturopath as soon as possible – there is no need to go through this difficult time without support.