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Postpartum Care & Awareness

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

Now that you’ve had your baby, the hardest part is over, right? Well, maybe. My first word of postpartum advice is, TAKE IT EASY. I cannot stress this enough to all the moms I support during birth and into their first few days postpartum.

You must prioritize yourself, your body and your spirit during the early stages postpartum. It’s unfortunate that our society has lost touch with the importance of taking the time to allow your body to heal from birth, establish good breastfeeding habits and bond with your baby.

Must-have home remedies for postpartum care:

  • Arnica homeopathy: Arnica is used for muscle pains, aches and bruising. You can take arnica tablets during childbirth to minimize pain and bruising, or after childbirth to speed up healing (for both a natural birth or in cases of a c-section).

  • Postpartum herbal sitz bath: Soaking in a warm herbal sitz bath can help speed up your body’s natural healing process. Sitz baths are good for all forms of birth recovery, natural, episiotomy, hemorrhoids and sutras from c-sections.

  • Soothing postpartum pads: DIY with aloe vera, witch hazel and essential oils (one example using lavender, chamomile, rosemary is here).

  • Cold pads/ice packs: For vagina and perineum swelling.

  • Soothing cold nipple pads: To help relieve sore nipples.

  • Nipple balm: To help heal chapped nipples.

  • Mama’s rich milk tea (or an ice cold Guinness beer ;) : To help with milk production.

  • Placenta capsulation pills: Believed to help balance hormones, replenish depleted iron levels, assist uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state, reduce postnatal bleeding and increase milk production.

  • Wholesome, organic, nourishing meals - Our nutrition expert Erica Favela has wonderful suggestions here

  • Pelvic floor therapy: Read more on this below.

In recent years I’ve seen some health centers pop up that focus on pelvic floor health and the importance of this therapy. This type of therapy is especially good for women recovering from childbirth (especially multiple childbirths, or those who suffer severe tears and episiotomies during birth). Years ago I read an article from the New York Times that called out the lack of support women in the US have for postpartum care. This article states that in France “making mothers good as new is of national interest.” Pelvic floor re-education as well as abdominal re-education is 40-60% paid for by government and the rest is generally covered by insurance. I’ve heard some cases of women whom have issues including pain during sex, the inability to hold their urine or pee when sneezing or laughing, as well as defecating when exercising for long periods of time. These are issues that can occur, but that does not mean they cannot be prevented, and should definitely not be ignored.

It’s very common for your doctor to take a look at your tissue and let you know if you’ve “healed” from birth. Often, if you tell them you are still experiencing pain or mention other issues with your bowel movements, they’ll suggest giving it more time, and perhaps do some more kegels. Yes, kegels are a wonderful exercise that help many women tone up their pelvic floor for prenatal and postpartum care, but sometimes it’s just not enough. If you are still experiencing discomfort or other possible embarrassing issues after birth, check in with your doctor and do some research on pelvic floor therapy centers around you. Many of these centers take insurance, and most insurance providers will cover it as long as your primary care doctor has deemed it necessary.

If you think about it, when you tear a muscle in any other part of your body, you are given physical therapy to recover from these injuries. When your perineum tears during birth, it is a tear in a muscle, and when you get stitches you will endure scar tissue. Just like every other muscle in your body, this requires extra time and attention to heal properly. The same thing applies for the abdominal tissues affected from a c-section. Therefore, give yourself that time, and don’t be afraid to ask for the extra help/therapy. You’re not alone, and you won’t be the first person to demand more support.

In traditional societies it is very common to see mother stay home 4-6 weeks postpartum and have family members and friends come to her to help with cooking, cleaning, and rest. This is especially useful when the mother happens to be a single parent, or when her partner has to go back to work early. At Cherish, we’re working to implement that traditional care for mothers back into our collective awareness as much as possible in the United States, and to inform new mothers, mothers-to-be, and those in their communities to give proper attention during these precious postpartum weeks. Check out a few previous posts that can help inform you on these topics, including our posts about meal trains and postpartum support.