When you are pregnant, you are focused on preparing to welcome your new baby into your life. You ready the nursery, buy a car seat, and stock up on diapers.
Don’t forget to spend some time preparing to take care of yourself after your little one arrives. Your body will need some TLC as you recover from giving birth. Nourishing your body properly is KEY to taking care of yourself. We have a free ebook on all the nutrients you need to care for your body postpartum.
Whether you give birth vaginally or by cesarean section, your body has been going through changes for nine months. It will take time to return to its pre-pregnant state.
In this post, we will provide tips on postpartum healing for the mom who has had a vaginal birth. We will tell you what you can expect from your postpartum recovery and what you can do to help the postpartum healing process.
Recovery of the Uterus
The uterus goes through some incredible changes during pregnancy. It grows thicker and has a rich blood supply. It will change rapidly after you birth your baby and the placenta.
You will have vaginal bleeding for up to six weeks postpartum. The discharge is called lochia and is blood from the placental site and the lining of the uterus. There are specific names for the different stages of the discharge.
Dark red bleeding experienced in the first 3-4 days is called lochia rubra.
This bleeding is like a very heavy period.
In the first few hours, you will be changing your sanitary pads every 1-2 hours.
You may pass small clots. Any clots larger than a quarter should be reported to your health care provider.
From day 4-10, the discharge will be a pink-brown color called lochia serosa.
During this time, you will need to change your pad every 3-4 hours.
Call your health care provider if you soak more than one pad per hour.
Week 2-6 the discharge will be a white-yellow color and is called lochia alba.
After you give birth, your doctor or midwife will massage your uterus to encourage it to contract. This helps minimize bleeding.
Your nurse will check your uterus to make sure that it is staying firm. She will massage it if it is not firm enough. You can rub it as well to help keep it firm.
Things That Can Cause a Temporary Increase in Bleeding
Most women will have increased bleeding with increased activity.
Breastfeeding moms will often notice some extra bleeding during nursing.
A scab forms over the area where the placenta was attached to the wall of the uterus. It sloughs off around ten days to 2 weeks. Many women notice a day of heavier bleeding when this happens.
Your uterus will continue to contract after the birth. These contractions are called after pains. Women describe them as feeling like intense cramps. The contractions compress the blood vessels and return the uterus to its prepregnant size. It takes about six weeks for the uterus to shrink back down.
After pains are usually most intense in the first few days after birth. Some women will feel discomfort from them for up to a week. If your health care provider has given the ok, you can take ibuprofen to help the discomfort. A heating pad on your tummy can also help.
The hormone oxytocin causes the after pains. This is the same hormone that caused labor contractions. Oxytocin is also the hormone that causes the milk to let down during breastfeeding. Because of this, many women will experience increased cramping when they breastfeed.
Episiotomy or Tears
If you had an episiotomy or any tearing, you will have some extra soreness in your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus).
Ice packs for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off will help decrease swelling and provide relief from the soreness. Do this for the first 24 hours.
After the first 24 hours, warm water sitz baths for 20 minutes will help with healing.
Using a squirt bottle with warm water when you use the restroom will help keep the area clean.
Using witch hazel pads is soothing and reduces inflammation. Keeping them in the refrigerator will take the comfort factor up a level.
A donut pillow or inflatable ring will keep the pressure off tender areas
The cervix takes a few weeks to completely close. Follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of a uterine infection.
Don’t use any tampons for the first six weeks postpartum
Follow the guidelines provided by your health care provider for when you can resume sexual intercourse.
Hemorrhoids can be another gift of the postpartum period. For most new mamas, they will go away by six weeks. In the meantime, these tips can help.
Avoid straining during bowel movements.
Drink lots of water and eat lots of fiber to help keep bowel movements soft.
Your health care provider may prescribe a stool softener. These are also available over the counter.
Apply witch hazel pads for comfort, and to decrease inflammation.
Apply a hemorrhoid cream.
New moms are often exhausted with a capital E. This has several causes.
New moms start out with a sleep deficit because it is the rare pregnant woman who sleeps well in the last weeks of her pregnancy.
You might have gone a night or two without sleep if you had a long labor.
Post-birth adrenaline can make it a challenge to sleep in the hours right after birth.
Babies typically cluster-feed most of their second night.
When you do get to sleep, it is going to be in two to three-hour blocks.
Make getting rest a priority. It may be a cliché, but rest when the baby sleeps. Even if you are not a napper, just lying down in a dark room and closing your eyes can help.
During the night, keep everything you will need for feedings and diaper changes close by, so you don’t have to get up and walk to another room.
Eat healthy fats like those found in avocados, eggs, salmon, and olive oil.
Avoid eating foods with processed sugar and that have empty calories.
It took your body nine months to grow a baby. It went through a lot of changes during that time. Most of your body will return to its pre-pregnant state by six weeks. Be patient with the things that take longer. Most importantly, take good care of yourself. You are recovering from growing a baby and birthing it. That’s an amazing feat!
For some breastfeeding mamas, menstruation can mean a drop in milk supply. Some mommies don’t experience a period at all while breastfeeding, and it all depends on the chemical and hormonal balance happening in your body.
If you are looking for The Postpartum Period Smoothie, scroll down for the recipe!
Breastfeeding can actually be a form of birth control, and can inhibit ovulation all together. Of course you shouldn’t depend on this 100 %, just like any other birth control, but it is a natural way to prevent pregnancy.
How to use breastfeeding as birth control
Exclusive breastfeeding, along with night feedings can inhibit ovulation in many women. In general, the more you breastfeed, the lower your estrogen levels. When estrogen drops very low, your body won’t menstruate. There has to be a certain level of estrogen in order to create ovulation, or have a healthy pregnancy, and your body knows this.
In order to decrease your estrogen, you need to increase your breastfeeding.
Pumping doesn’t quite do the job as well as nursing your baby, but you can also increase your pumping sessions too. Adding in night feedings is the easiest way to ensure you are breastfeeding enough to drop your estrogen low enough to prevent ovulation. Keeping baby close at night, and skin-to-skin as much as possible is also a great way to keep up the pheromones necessary to produce more milk.
Low estrogen levels are required for healthy breastfeeding. There are individual factors that come into play on what is considered “low” for your body. One mama might have much lower levels and still ovulate, while others will have higher levels and not have a period. In general, more breastfeeding means less estrogen.
What happens to your milk supply when your period comes?
Your body won’t have a period unless estrogen levels increased enough to support menstruation. When you get your period postpartum, your hormone levels are fluctuating, which can affect your milk supply temporarily. During ovulation is when your estrogen is the highest, so while this is happening, you may notice a drop in your supply. Higher levels of estrogen are necessary to release an egg.
Estrogen and progesterone stay increased during the Luteal phase, or 14 days after ovulation, which also cause changes in breasts and milk ducts. Depending on how your body reacts, these changes may slow down your lactation for a bit, as your body adjusts.
How to handle changes in milk supply during menstruation
If your period has returned postpartum, and continues to show up regularly, dealing with some ebs and flows in your milk supply might become a normal part of life. There are some simple ways to handle these changes, particularly at specific times of the month.
Pump more and increase milk supply right after your period:
Right after your period is when your estrogen is at its lowest. Make sure to take advantage of this time to pump more milk and increase your supply.
We have a lot of great ways you can increase your supply, written by our lactation consultant and nurse, as well as our Milk Dust, which can quickly help you jump back into breastfeeding and a larger supply.
As ovulation approaches, increase skin to skin contact:
As your estrogen slowly rises, make sure to increase skin-to-skin contact with baby, and add more feedings.
During ovulation and leading up to menstruation, use lactation boosters:
Lactation boosters like fenugreek, fennel seed, milk thistle, brewers yeast and other herbs and nutrients can all boost milk supply during this time.
Adding in more Milk Dust smoothies is an awesome way to nourish your body as well as boost your milk supply. Milk Dust has Red Raspberry Leaf, which is known to help balance hormones and increase hormonal health. This is such a great herb to take during this time, or all month to make the monthly transitions a bit smoother.
Try this hormone balancing smoothie during the PMS phase to encourage a happy mama and milk supply:
The Postpartum Period Smoothie
Balance those hormones with this delicious, nutrient-dense smoothie full of hormone balancing ingredients like Turmeric, Red Raspberry Leaf, L-Methylfolate and Vitamin B 12.
1/2cupfrozen cauliflower (or ice if you don't have)
1-2cupsmilk of choice, though cashew milk does well with this oneUse milk according to desired texture and blend
Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!
This smoothie is particular great as a smoothie bowl, topped with some berries and nuts for added omegas and nutrients. Any berries will work for this recipe because they are all very beneficial for hormonal health.
This smoothie offers key nutrients to help you balance your hormones and milk supply during menstruation.
Milk Dust offers hand-picked nutrients specifically for the postpartum and breastfeeding mamas. These nutrients, combined with a unique lactation-herb blend protect a mother’s milk supply combat sugar cravings, hormonal roller coasters and nutritional deficiencies.
The concept of postnatal depletion is gaining recognition surrounding postpartum health and wellness. Postnatal depletion is a very important topic that needs to be addressed for every new mama, especially if you breastfeeding. Because the concept of postnatal depletion is fairly new, we are going to go over what postnatal depletion is, and what specific nutrients to focus on to combat the effects.
What is Postnatal Depletion?
Postnatal depletion covers more than the nutrients a pregnant and postpartum mother has in her body. It also covers stress, fatigue and emotional stress. Pregnancy requires extra nutrients for a mother to produce and grow a new life. If a new mom doesn’t consume enough nutrients, they are taken from the mother to support the baby. Mother’s bodies are designed to put the growing baby first. Postnatal depletion is actually very normal, and the postpartum period is a time to replenish those nutrient stores. Postnatal depletion is the normal process of pregnancy and birth giving everything to the growing baby. Once the baby is born, a new mother needs to replenish and consume healing nutrients to recover, as well as breastfeed.
Dr. Oscar Serrallach from Australia brought the idea of Postnatal Depletion to main stream media through Goop. He states,
The placenta passes many nutrients to the growing baby during pregnancy, tapping into the mom’s “iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium stores—along with omega 3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from proteins.” A mom’s brain has been shown to shrink during pregnancy as it supports the growth of the baby and is socially re-engineered for parenthood.
There are symptoms of postnatal depletion, but often times they go ignored. Many new mothers push through:
aches and pains
lack of focus
as a part of having a new baby. And yes, some of it is to be expected. In the beginning stages, the signs of depletion are normal, but should be helped as healing and replenishment occurs.
How to Treat Postnatal Depletion:
Treating postnatal depletion involves more than just diet and nutrients, but diet and nutrients are a big part of treatment. There are emotional and psychological aspects of rest and healing that need to be considered for new mothers as well.
Treating Postnatal Depletion Involves:
adequate psychological rest
laughter and relaxation
walking and yoga
healing foods and nutrients
Postnatal Depletion Recovery Starts With Nutrition:
These are the top nutrients a new mother can focus on to help combat postnatal depletion, and why we created Milk Dust.
How Milk Dust Helps Combat Postnatal Depletion:
Milk Dust does more than support a healthy milk supply and reduce sugar cravings. The main goal is actually much larger. Milk Dust aims to replenish depleted nutrient stores by offering the most important nutrients breastfeeding mamas need to thrive and heal. Because of the nutrient density of our protein powder, we can help diminish sugar cravings, which are often a result of missing vitamins and minerals. Milk Dust also increases your milk supply with a unique blend of herbs and ingredients that support lactation. Milk Dust is a protein powder, so it tastes best blended in a smoothie for a full meal replacement if needed. In addition, it is super easy to blend up and requires little prep and clean up. Exactly what a new mommy needs to help make life simpler.
What other foods help with postnatal depletion?
Some of the top foods to combat postnatal depletion include:
beans and legumes
chicken and turkey
These foods are all very nutrient-dense, which means that you are mainly eating pure vitamins. No extra sugar, fat or processed ingredients. Milk Dust also offers some of these super foods like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, blueberries and spinach. Adding these foods to your diet daily will really help with healing and lactation postpartum.
Postpartum depletion isn’t a medical term – yet, but a state many mamas find them struggling through. Supplements like Milk Dust, combined with foods that nourish your body is the best way to tackle postnatal depletion from a nutrition stand point.
Postnatal depletion also includes exhaustion and fatigue. Of course that is to be expected with a new baby, and nourishment is the foundation of energy and emotional health.