Three Things to Love About Postpartum
The postpartum period can be difficult for many women. Often times women (and some men) suffer from, “the baby blues” or a more serious postpartum depression. A woman is experiencing massive hormonal shifts and physical and emotional transformations after her baby is born. The support of family and friends can help alleviate those feelings of helplessness. Keep an open dialogue with postpartum moms and be honest about mood and feelings. Although postpartum can be a difficult time, there are a few things I wanted to highlight. Because the newborn phase is fleeting, and most moms will miss it when it’s over regardless of how miserable they feel.
1. Sleeping on your back
When you have a massive belly sleeping on your back becomes a thing of the past. If you are always a side sleeper then maybe this isn’t something you would highlight during the postpartum period, but for me this is huge. Not only is it uncomfortable to sleep with a watermelon sized belly on top of you, it is potentially dangerous to continue to sleep on your back into the second trimester of pregnancy. The uterus can put pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart, this can deprive the fetus of oxygen.
As soon as you deliver you can sleep on your back immediately. Not that there is any time to sleep, but just lying on your back offers relief from the strains of late pregnancy on the low back, neck and shoulders.
Nursing can be painful and difficult, but it is an incredible bonding experience that I look forward to during the postpartum period. Even if you don’t have a tremendous milk supply, and you need to supplement with formula, I encourage all mom’s to stick through the first few weeks. Any breast milk your child gets is an incredible gift. Moreover, leaving the house with a small baby is much more feasible when you don’t have to pack formula/bottles and prepare them when it’s needed. When you are breastfeeding you only need to have a space where you and your baby can sit comfortably. Sometimes that is the back of the car, the corner of a restaurant, or the sidelines of a soccer game, but food for the baby is already there and warm when the baby is hungry.
For my own vanity, I also enjoy the increase in breast size. I am not very well endowed, and when I am nursing a baby (or two) my bra size goes up at least two to three sizes. Clothes fit differently, but I don’t hate having to size up for my new figure, particularly when my belly returns to something of a pre-pregnancy size.
3. Physical Transformation
During the twins pregnancy my uterus was measuring 47 cm above the pubic bone during the week before I delivered. About 6 hours after the delivery my uterus measured about 10 cm. Most people are aware that the uterus contracts during labor to help dilate the cervix and deliver the baby. But the contractions continue after the baby is born in order to deliver the placenta and shrink the uterus. The hormones released during breastfeeding help to continue uterine contractions during the first few days after the delivery. This is uncomfortable, but not excruciating, and it helps your body return to its pre-pregnancy size with minimal effort on your part. At two weeks postpartum my uterus is no longer measurable. It sits completely below the pubic bone. This is a pretty remarkable change in just 14 days.
With any type of delivery, vaginal or cesarean, it takes time for the body to recover from growing and delivering a small human. Exercise is not an important focus for the first six weeks after delivery. The area where the placenta was attached to the uterus is an open wound and bleeding for 4-6 weeks is pretty standard. My low back gets pretty sore from sitting on the couch and nursing all day, so a few gentle yoga stretches offers some relief and activates muscles that encourages better posture. Short walks are helpful to improve circulation when the majority of time spent recovering is sitting or lying down. As a stroke patient, blood clots are a real fear, and gentle movement of any kind is a good preventative measure.
Healthy eating is an important piece of the transformation postpartum, but I would never encourage women to cut calories or fat from their diet. The goal is never to get back to prepregnancy size as quickly as possible, because your body will do this on its own. Focus on regaining physical health and well-being. Eating a healthy and balanced diet including full fat dairy products, pastured meat, fruits and veggies.
And Don't Forget Newborn Snuggles
Newborns cry and this can be stressful. But they don't cry all the time, and they are only little for such a short time. The best part of postpartum is getting to snuggle a newborn baby. To smell them and kiss their heads and hold them as much as possible. I often wish I could skip the newborn stage, the sleepless nights and the in consolable moments, but I try to remember the precious snuggles and tiny babies won't last.
This article was written by Garage Strength co-owner Caitlin Browne. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @traditionalfoodsmodernlife