The first few days after labour hold some of the most incredible and raw moments of our life. With a whirlwind of hormones and what seems like a never-ending flow of visitors, the beginning stages of the postpartum period can work new parents and baby to a whole new level. We can never figure out exactly what to expect as parents, support, doulas, other children or pets during the welcoming of a new baby in the house hold. This new human has lived the first 9 months of their lives in a universe where every motion, both physically and energetically, was understood and greeted with the most giving and selfless response from their mother. After the ceremonial shift of labour, we spend a lot more time questioning what our new child is trying to share with us. Are they hungry? Tired? Need a diaper change? In pain? Sometimes we can energetically tune into these sensations and other times, not so much—and that is completely okay!
Growing as a family and developing a routine takes time: we learn to pick up on cries, learn about which breastfeeding holds work best and try our hardest to keep the meconium off the clothes grandma and grandpa got for our newest family member. We pour energy and love into showing our babies that their well-being is the central focus of our attention. We ask our friends and (sometimes) family members what were the most important parts of developing their initial routine.
As a doula, I have had the chance to watch a lot of new parents come full circle with what can be a highly emotional transition period in their lives. Partners rely on each other and those in their close circle to give them the support they need to experience their true potential as a new parent.
Below is my list of must do “life-hacks” to help ease some of the bumpier moments of postpartum. I hope that you will be able to incorporate some of these self-care methods (may they be for mental or physical care) into your routine.
And remember, you are an amazing parent, amazing partner, and with each passing day you will grow closer and more in tune with your baby and the new rhythm you are writing together.
1) Oily Bums: Meconium is the first stools a baby will pass outside the womb. It is sticky, it leaves stains that you will remember for the rest of your life and it can be tough to wipe off babies bum. Don’t worry, meconium will soon shift to newborn stools as they start to digest milk. Until then, try coating babies bum in coconut oil to help you wipe off the dark-sticky meconium. If there is a protective layer between the skin and feces, you can save a lot of time during changes and get that baby wrapped back up and snuggling in your arms.
2) Blow Dryers and Bodies: Does it seem absolutely insane to say that a blow dryer can be your babies first best friend? Think about it: While in the womb, babe listened to every breath, heartbeat and fluid flow through your body– it was warm, it was comfortable. My very first clients (my heart still remembers the look on their faces when they showed me) kept a blow dryer near their changing table. It was like a good ole’ Western: diaper and onesie came off, blow dryer turned on. Their “gun” was drawn and baby didn’t cry. He looked comfortable, relaxed. The slightly warm air blew over his fresh earth-side skin and the noise seemed to remind him of something he had heard before. Completely genius if you ask me—just make sure you keep a good gauge on the temperature of the air blowing towards your new baby.
3) Postpartum Pads: You know those icy-cool pads the hospital (if you birthed at the hospital) gives you after labour to help soothe your perineum? If you know what I’m talking about, you might have just made an “ohh yeah” accompanied with an exhale and the drop of your shoulders. Well, you can make them at home! And guess what? When you make them at home, they last a lot longer than your time at the hospital! Here is a link to my recipe for postpartum pad. Spend your last few days before labour prepping these comfort-saving pads or put your friends to work getting them together for you.
Which leads me to #4.
4) Take Advantage of your Visitors: It doesn’t matter if they are your Mom, Dad, Friends, Cousins, Dogs. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR VISITORS! The little things during postpartum can add up very quickly. Ask your friends to set up a meal train—get a list of your favourite foods together during your last trimester and have a friend arrange freezer meals and fresh food drop off. Ask your visitors to get laundry on when they come in the door and take the garbage on the way out. It is 100% okay to ask for help or tell visitors that it would be appreciated if snuggle time had helping hands. Even if they only want snuggles, try and sneak into the shower or grab a nap—take advantage of them!
5) Have a postpartum massage arranged: Child birth is a life changing event. It changes our cells, our perception and the way that we love. Parents deserve release and massage is an incredible way to do this. There have been many days where I have crawled onto my clients beds and massaged their legs, letting them drift off, breast feed, or release whatever words or thoughts that come to mind. Reminding the mother and father that they are feeling not just for baby, but for their partners and most importantly themselves can release any trauma or tension they might be carrying. It is completely understandable to carry worry and stress when you are learning what your new family means, and it is 100% necessary to be reminded with touch of how loved your soul and the body your soul chose are.
6) Fresh air: Just do it. Walk away from technology and find the elements. Clarity comes with elimination of the unnecessary and nature is the ultimate reminder of what we need. Even if you end up parking beside the ocean or sit in your back yard, find the space to eliminate the extra waves in our world that can so easily take over our time with the moments we only experience once.
7) Breastfeeding support: Galactagogues and pressure points, la leche league and mothers groups. The amount of resources both online and through community programs is endless. Breastfeeding can pose as a challenge for a lot of new mothers and if it remains difficult, there is a high chance of shifting straight to formula (and that’s okay IF that is what you wanted to do). I am not here to tell you that you didn’t try hard enough, but I am here to ask if you have found the support you need to feed however you choose to. It is okay to say you’re trying and it’s hard, it is okay to say you’re engorged, it is wonderful to find what works for you. That is where I want you to be, the state of euphoria where you can bond with your baby during the many times of nourishment. Seek support if you need it, there is no such thing as shame when it comes to growing with your baby.
8) Prunes, Psyllium and H20: Yep, loosen those stools. Remember pushing and all the sensations your perineum and surrounding area experienced? Well, that area needs to heal and bowel movements create energy in the same areas. If you increase your fibre and water, constipation and harder stools can be kept to a minimum allowing for optimal healing. This can be incredibly helpful if you experienced hemorrhoids or any sized tear during the actual birth. Increasing your water intake is also a necessity if you’re breastfeeding. Try sipping water all day long and enjoy more soups and fresh fruits and veggies to keep your liquids up. Herbal teas can also include galactagogues and calcium magnesium to help with cramping and milk production!
9) Comfort Measures: Don’t forget to take care of you. If you’re lying down, take a minute to stretch your legs! Use arnica oil or homeopathics to help with postpartum healing. Ask your best friend to make that cake you love and savour it. Wear those track pants with the holes, you know.. The ones you swore you would never let your partner see you in. Incorporate aromatherapy into your day to day. You deserve to be comfortable! Use pillows to get into a comfortable position when you’re feeding or resting.
10) Write: Postpartum is a time for growth. We meet our most challenging moments and overcome them. We begin to shift into a new being with the ones that we’ve created. They teach us so much—about them, about ourselves and about the things that truly matter. One day, maybe just one day, you will want or need to reflect back on this time. Writing is one medium that can help heal and renew our spirits. Even a sentence a day can patch our thoughts back together 5 or 10 years down the road and most importantly, let us reflect back to what it was like to be in the moment. This might be beneficial for trauma healing– it could also be a way to help with any “empty nest” feelings. Doodle and dabble in language, see what comes up. Who knows, you could find a piece of your puzzle that changes your perception in a way that you never expected.
For those of you seeking extra help during postpartum, many doulas are available for postpartum shifts in the day as well as overnight. I am available for both of these services even if I was not your birth doula. Please contact me for more information.
With love, From Ficus.
Ficus Holistic Doula Services