Monday, July 15, 2013

Natural Remedies for Postpartum Recovery {Dear Best Friend...}



Congratulations on your baby! Giving birth is exhausting, hard work. It is amazing what a woman's body can do and then you have to pick up and hit the ground running in a very short recovery period - especially if you have other children to care for or not a lot of outside help. 

Throw in sleep deprivation and an already taxed immune system and all other parts of you are running on empty. After recovering from two births, I cannot state enough that it is so immensely important for you to take care of yourself well after having a baby! 

Your body needs nourishment, your body needs healing, your body needs rest. If you don't listen to your body, you're setting yourself up for more health issues down the road and possibly baby blues or PPD (postpartum depression). Not to mention that your body needs restoration and replenishing nutritional stores before having another baby down the road.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I tried my best to do a scavenger hunt for anything I could find that helped moms recover - in addition to things that have proven to work well for myself. If you know something missing from this list, please leave a comment! Other moms may find it very helpful!

Arnica

Arnica taken internally is wonderful for postpartum pain management! I didn't even know about it until giving birth for the second time, but it was very helpful for recovering, especially since the afterbirth pains with the second baby are worse and I don't like to take any conventional pain medications. I have some as part of the homeopathic kit, but you can also buy it separately and it's available in most health food stores and Amazon.

Probiotics

Your immune system thrives on good bacteria and about 80% of your immune system is based in the gut! So it's only logical that if antibiotics were administered to baby and you during birth, it weakens the immune system and kills good bacteria along with the bad. It's so important to take these, even if you didn't get any antibiotics. That, along with some yogurt every day, will help your digestion and immune system. I usually buy them at Swanson Vitamins (you get $5 coupon if you click), they are also available here.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Perfect to take throughout pregnancy and postpartum, red raspberry leaf tea has a myriad of benefits. It strengthens the uterus and it is high in vitamin C. It is even available in most stores, or you can buy some here.
*always consult with qualified herbalist, midwife, or doctor before taking any herbs during pregnancy.

Nettle

Another beneficial herbal tea that isn't just for postpartum healing, it has many benefits for any person. It is said to provide energy, and has lots of trace minerals and vitamins. It's often an ingredients in postpartum herbal teas along with red raspberry leaf tea. It is available at health food stores and online.

Dandelion

This herb is great as a tea and aids with constipation among other benefits. There is really a lot more it's said to do, especially considering it can even work for cancer patients.

Fennel

Fennel tea is great for digestion and milk production. It may also help with your baby's digestion, gas, and tummy aches. It is used in postpartum tea and milk production boosting teas as well. You may find it in some stores or you can purchase it online

Cod Liver Oil

Beneficial fats, vitamins, and minerals in cod liver oil are a power house of goodness for baby and you. While this is something to be taking through pregnancy and even before conception, it's never too late to start. The benefits of cod liver oil are amazing! Just beware of cheap fish oil sold at most stores, it's an inferior product often filled with synthetic vitamins because they are destroyed with the processing of the fish oil to make the supplement. Your best bet is Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which is expensive. The next best thing is the Swanson Double Strength Cod Liver Oil.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is essential for well-being in so many aspects. For postpartum healing it's crucial for mental health, pain management, immune system, and so much more. While it is best to get vitamin D with moderate sun exposure, you may also want to try a supplement such as this. Cod liver oil does contain vitamin D, but it's not a very large dose. I know from personal experience that when I feel sickness coming on, a large dose of 4,000 to 6,000 IUs of vitamin D knocks it right out and I feel good as new.

Magnesium

During pregnancy magnesium can do wonders for restless legs. For postpartum purposes it can help with postpartum depression, headaches, and overall well being in stressful times. Although it is unlikely you would have trouble falling asleep being so exhausted, it does help with insomnia if needed. I actually know this from personal experience. I take some Natural Calm when I have trouble falling asleep, which is rare. I'm also convinced it helped with my healing following my fall down the stairs.

Essential Oils

I haven't tried essential oils for postpartum issues, but I know other moms have and there are many ways to use them. I am not very knowledgeable on the subject, but Natural Living Mama has a good summary of essential oils for postpartum healing to help with abdominal pain, bleeding, breastfeeding, inflammation, UTIs, and baby blues. There is a large selection of essential oils on Amazon and I know many moms sell doTERRA products.

Sore Muscle Rub

I don't know about you, but my body felt sore all over after giving birth, especially the land birth with Baby E (Baby T was a lot more forgiving with a water birth). To soothe sore muscles you can use some natural muscle rub like this one on your shoulders, thighs, and back. Of course this may help but if you want more than a quick fix, try a reputable chiropractor.

Earth Mama Nipple Butter 

This natural lanolin-free nipple cream is very soothing and healing for your nursing breasts. Clinically tested and hospital recommended, it is great for dry, cracked skin. It's also safe for baby, there is no need to wash it off before nursing. Available at Earth Mama Angel Baby.

Breast Milk

The healing properties of breast milk are amazing and often it is all that's needed to soothe nipples adjusting to nursing a baby. Just dab some on and around the nipple before and after nursing the baby.

Coconut Oil

Beneficial internally but especially helpful for sore nipples during your first weeks of nursing baby. Just put a little on your nipple before and after a feeding (if it's solid at room temperature, just hold a little piece between your fingers to melt it). Coconut oil is available in most stores today (and online), if possible buy organic and make sure there aren't any added ingredients.

Earth Mama Bottom Balm

If I ever give birth again, I am getting some of this balm because the reviews from other moms are pretty amazing, it really works! It doesn't contain any toxins or parabens and it is great for prenatal and postpartum hemorrhoids, episiotomy, and perineal bruising.

Heating Pads

A heating pad can be very helpful with postpartum cramping, which gets especially bad with second and subsequent births. You could improvise by running a towel under hot water and placing that on the belly, or you could buy one at any store, I know Target sells some. I prefer the ones with clay, rice, or buckwheat as the filling.

Prunes 

Going to the bathroom regularly can be quite the ordeal after giving birth! It's something you can't really talk to people about and even with a midwife or doctor you may be hesitant to bring it up. One of the most simple and natural ways to help you out is to eat a few prunes. It will affect your baby's stool as well, so be very careful with how much you consume. You may just start with one or two and see if it helps you and how it affects the baby. Of course they are available in any store, or you can buy some online. If it's any consolation, it does get better and easier with time!

Nutrient Dense Meals

Your baby eats what you eat, you simply must invest in vitamin rich, nutrient dense foods. Even if you keep it really simple and just avoid pre-packaged meals that are full of additives and unpronounceable ingredients that do not belong in your body and that of your baby. It's really important to eat plenty of 'good fat' foods to nourish your baby's growth - like avocados, grass fed butter, pastured eggs, and coconut oil. Fat is good for you, it's the fake, processed, GMO oils that are devastating to health (canola, corn, soy, 'vegetable' oil). For some nourishing recipes with healthy ingredients, check out Wellness Mama. We have a few recipes too, but our repertoire is tiny so far. 

Outdoors

Finally, simply being outdoors is good both for you and baby! Indoor air is a lot more polluted than outdoor air. While you should open the windows as much as possible and let fresh air in, a stroll with your baby in a stroller or baby carrier will do wonders for your mood and health. While going to crowded public places with a newborn isn't advisable, especially in the winter months, it is completely safe to take the baby outdoors - granted the weather is appropriate and the baby is dressed accordingly.

What are your tips for natural postpartum healing? 


Note: If you decide to buy anything from Swansons, use my link to get a $5 off coupon off your purchase.

*This article is not intended as medical advice and is based on opinion. Please consult with a trusted health professional for your medical decisions. 

2 comments:

  1. I really appreciate this post! I am expecting baby number two and am much more focused on the recovery aspect since I will be taking care of both a newborn and a toddler. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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