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It takes true mama-strength to birth a baby, and it takes true mama-wisdom to practice self-care after having a baby. In many cultures around the world, the first 40 days after giving birth is a sacred and protected time in a mother’s life. Mothers stay home and focus solely on breastfeeding and healing from birth. But here in North America, many women are expected to return to work after only a few short weeks, and even if the mother isn’t returning to work right after giving birth, she’s often busy taking her of the household, when she really needs to be busy taking care of herself.
Even though I have a toddler running around, I’ve been very serious about taking the first 30 days to practice self-care for myself, ensuring a healthy and healing postpartum for Skyana and I. I’m so very thankful to my family for giving me this gift and helping around the house to cook meals, watch Chayton and do the bulk of the housework so that I can focus on resting, establishing breastfeeding and bonding with our new little girl.
I know that not everyone has the ability to practice the postpartum tradition of “lying in” for 30-40 days after giving birth, so I’ve taken the time to write down some of my biggest tips to ensure a healing postpartum.
You need to eat healthy. On one of the first days after Skyana was born, I laid in bed with my little girl tucked next to me and I took an InstaStories video of the breakfast tray filled with fresh fruit, nourishing oatmeal and delicious smoothie that my mother had brought me in bed. My friend, who had just given birth a few days before bed, commented on how good it looked and how her breakfast was only half a granola bar that she managed to eat in between caring for her toddler.
I can’t stress this enough, you need to eat healthy, proper, nourishing whole foods after giving birth. Your body is tired, you’ve just completed one of the biggest physical accomplishments so proper nutrition is essential to caring for yourself and your baby.
As I already mentioned, so many of us won’t have family living nearby with the ability to drop everything for a few weeks to help us recover from giving birth, my solution for this is a smoothie bundle from The Good Stuff, Vancouver’s ready-to-blend superfood smoothies that are delivered right to your door.
These smoothies are all organic, locally grown and absolutely packed with all the good stuff to help your body get back on track as a new mom. And if you are breastfeeding, it is even more important for you to get proper nutrition because your growing baby is fully dependant on you. Baby eats everything you eat.
All you do is pick your smoothie, add juice, milk or water and mix it all in the blender. Plus your order gets delivered right to your door (hello, no grocery shopping trips!) AND you can eat your meal with one hand, because let’s be real babies never want to be put down.
And even if you aren’t practicing 30-40 days of lying in during postpartum, these fresh smoothies are also great on the go, so you can get your nutrition without having to slow down…although I do recommend that you slow down, at least once in a while!
Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your body can always perform better when it is properly hydrated, meaning you will feel less tired and heal faster when you drink water. Again, if you are breastfeeding, this is extra important because your body needs lots of water to make lot of milk.
I found packing a pretty water bottle with me helps remind me to drink water throughout the day. This copper water bottle from local company Copper H2o is my favourite, because not only does it look pretty, but drinking water from a copper vessel infuses the water with the minerals from the copper, becoming natural alkaline water to balance your body’s pH levels. And this bottle is the perfect size to pack along in my diaper bag!
Plus, I’ve been avoiding plastic water bottles for a long time now and Copper H2o was a great alternative, with each bottle hand-made by skilled traditional artisans using only 100% high-grade food-safe copper, which is naturally anti-bacterial too.
If you are breastfeeding, you’ll know how quickly it can do damage to your nipples, especially if your baby’s latch isn’t quite right. I had an incredibly difficult time starting off breastfeeding with Chayton and thankfully, Skyana is much much better at nursing than he was.
Still, I use Overachiever by K’pure Naturals to soothe my nipples in these early days. Actually I use Overachiever for everything… a moisturizer for extra dry skin, the best diaper balm, and eczema relief. I hear its even good for healing tattoos, something I’ll keep in mind again for the future. Its our go-to for everything and 100% organic.
When it comes to taking care of your body, be gentle with yourself. It took nine months to grow a baby, and your body changes a lot along the way; give yourself at least nine months, even more, to go down to your new size. We wear the diary of our lives on our bodies, growing through each new season of life, and it is important to honour our bodies for the journeys that it carries us through.
I’ve found that taking the time to slow down and show my body appreciation is a ritual in itself and one of the most important practices of self-care in my postpartum. Soaking in a Bebe de Luxe Sitz Bath of natural salts and herbs gave me time to meditate and slow down, taking a moment for myself in busy days of motherhood. 20 minutes in the bath creates space for both physical and mental healing, something that is so important for every new mother.
After the bath and right before bed, I always lotion up with the Usana Firming Body Nourisher, to help my skin replenish and hydrate as it continues to relax after stretching to accommodate two bodies. So far I’ve gone through two postpartums without any stretching or sagging, and I feel pretty confident that this lotion has helped give my tummy skin an extra boost along the way.
The bottom line is don’t forget to slow down and take time to care for yourself too. I know that the babies take all the attention after they are born and simply taking a shower is a huge accomplishment in the early days. But you can’t take care of anyone else when you are depleted and empty. Self-care isn’t selfish, it is absolutely necessary, especially for a new mom.
So congratulations on your new bundle of joy! May your postpartum be filled with baby snuggles, restful nights, nourishing food and never-ending love.
You go, mama!
Photos: Olivia Ann Photography
Styling: Chervelle Camille Atelier