The last few months of pregnancy are usually spent feverishly running around making sure you have everything you need for your new baby to arrive, but don’t forget about yourself! Being prepared for your recovery after birth can help you heal faster, which will provide you with more strength and energy to care for your new bundle. With my ‘fourth trimester’ nearing an end, these are a few of the things that I’ve found essential for assisting my recovery during this postpartum period.
Herbal & Epsom Salt Baths
Herbal and epsom salt baths can speed healing and reduce swelling by encouraging circulation. They can help you relax and sooth postpartum discomfort from stitches, perineal bruising, and hemorrhoids. Try adding epsom salt and herbs such as calendula, lavender, red raspberry leaf, yarrow, and/or comfrey in a concentrated sitz bath, or the bathtub for a bonding and soothing soak with your baby. You can also add oatmeal to ease any itching experienced when recovering with stitches.
Witch Hazel is extremely soothing and can reduce inflammation with its astringent properties. It’s an antiseptic and helps fight bacteria to prevent infection. Witch hazel can also stop minor bleeding and help relieve hemorrhoids.
- Soak circular cotton pads in witch hazel, or apply directly using a small spray bottle.
- Soak a postpartum pad in witch hazel and freeze before applying.
- Use a peri bottle filled with witch hazel & lukewarm water to cleanse and rinse wounds. A peri bottle can also be used to rinse after urinating if toilet paper causes discomfort due to inflammation and stitches.
Arnica promotes healing by reducing pain and bruising after trauma. This homeopathic remedy minimizes strain on soft tissues to assist the recovery of both vaginal and c-section births.
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Rest & Sleep
Sleep can seem quite elusive with a newborn, but it’s a vital component of postpartum recovery… for both you and your baby. Finding ways to help your little one sleep more soundly allows you the rest time needed for recovery. Swaddling helps babies transition from womb to world and prevents them from startling awake. We were gifted the Ergobaby Swaddler when my daughter was born and it’s been an incredible tool for helping her sleep more soundly. We sleep together skin-to-skin during the night, and in my motherhood fantasy I just sit and gaze at my her all day long, but in reality I have to put her down sometimes. The swaddler comforts and soothes her during naps when I can’t hold her, and all mothers know that if your baby isn’t calm and well rested, then you won’t be either.
My son exhibited the moro (or startle) reflex quite actively when he was a newborn, but I wasn’t able to swaddle him comfortably with receiving blankets. I worried that swaddling with blankets was too restrictive, but the Ergobaby Swaddler allows for natural movement of a baby’s lower body, and the leg pouch allows for quick diaper changes. I also have the new Ergobaby Sleeping Bag & Swaddle Set that we just began using to transition out of swaddling. The three stage transition allows baby’s arms to be swaddled in at first, then their arms can come out while their body is still swaddled, and finally they can continue using the sleep sac well beyond their swaddling days. I wish I had this when my son was younger!
Nourishing food is one of the most important parts of postpartum recovery. My friends organized meal trains for me after both of my babies were born. Friends and family sign up to bring you meals in the early weeks and it was such an incredibly appreciated gesture when shopping, cooking and cleanup might seem overwhelming.
I also stocked my fridge and freezer with breastfeeding friendly snacks, because I’ve never experienced hunger quite like I did in those first few days after birth when my milk was coming in. Having healthy snacks to grab for myself and feed to my toddler was a lifesaver.
- Turmeric Spice Fudge aids recovery after birth and helps balance postpartum hormones.
- Coconut Macaroons contain ingredients support breastfeeding.
- Trail Mix is a good balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein to provide balanced energy.
Water & Electrolytes
Those early postpartum days can be leaky with breast milk, night sweats, lochia and a few hormonal tears. Staying hydrated is an important part of restoring balance and regaining energy. I drank electrolyte rich labor-aid during my labor and continued drinking it in the early weeks after birth. Electrolytes can speed recovery because they are involved in rebuilding damaged tissue. This drink can also assist the uterus in contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size because electrolytes are required for muscle contractions.