Becoming a mother is an amazing and powerful experience, but it is also a time when your body is particularly vulnerable and needs a little extra care. If you have just undergone pregnancy and childbirth, your body has been through many rapid changes and will need to recover. The following are some simple, natural approaches to boosting your health postpartum.
Move Your Body
Fatigue is very common after childbirth. Getting regular physical exercise helps to reduce postpartum fatigue 1. It can be difficult to get much activity when you are also recovering from labor and taking care of a newborn, but take advantage of the opportunities you do by going for walks with your little one in a stroller and doing gentle yoga when Baby is napping.
Eat Foods High in Omega-3s
Postpartum depression occurs in 10-15% of mothers, so make sure that you pay attention to your mental health and contact a professional if you are experiencing feelings of depression. One thing you can do to boost your mental health after pregnancy is to eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 2 Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, and plant oils. Social support is also vital if you can create a network of friends, family or (if you can afford it) paid assistance – even for a short period of time after delivery. Too often, people feel they need to ‘do it all’ and may have unrealistic expectations for what is reasonable in the postpartum period.
Don’t Stop Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins
Many people stop taking their prenatal vitamins as soon as they have the baby, but just because your body is not pregnant anymore does not mean that you are ready to stop. You should continue taking your prenatal vitamins for at least 6 months after birth to ensure that your nutrients stores are fully replenished. 3
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor muscles become weakened with pregnancy and childbirth, which can lead to incontinence and other urinary or sexual symptoms. Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles and prevent the deterioration of urinary function. 4 To strengthen your pelvic floor, squeeze in your muscles as if you were stopping urination, and hold for 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat 10 times, at least 3 times a day.
Sleep as Much as You Can
Hormones may become imbalanced as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, and sleep is an effective way to regulate your hormones .5 A full 8 hours of sleep is difficult to come by for new parents, but make sure that you sleep when you can. Take naps when your baby naps and switch off childcare duties with your partner or a trusted friend or family member. Catching whatever sleep you can in increments will add up.