We’re a tribe of modern mamas: superheros who tend to babies and business with wipes in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. But when it comes to nurturing ourselves post-pregnancy, are we too ready to jump back into the daily grind without a thought to what’s best for our bodies and our children?
Many of the world’s cultures to nurture post-pregnant mums as much as the newborn, with careful thought put into just what will allow new mothers to regain their pre-pregnancy vitality. However, in the West we rarely borrow from these ancient principles — instead jumping back into a life of work and worry—giving little thought to our body and its needs in order to recover fully.
It’s a concerning and widespread trend, says mother-of-two and author of A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural and Empowering Birth, Katrina Zaslavsky, who followed the guidance of other cultures to rest fully and regain her pre-pregnancy health.
“A new mother’s most important role is to take care of and bond with her new baby and allow her body to fully recover from birth and this should be her only focus in the early weeks of motherhood,” she says.
Rest and Recovery
“The importance of adequate rest and good nutrition for new mothers should never be underestimated. Yet in our modern Western society we are expected to just ‘get up and get on with it’ the moment we give birth—we may feel uncomfortable to ask for help or accept it if it comes our way.”
In our modern Western society we are expected to just ‘get up and get on with it’ the moment we give birth—we may feel uncomfortable to ask for help or accept it if it comes our way.
From China to Haiti, there is a strict period of rest for mother and baby, spanning 40 days—the time needed to recover fully and ensure the best start to life for the newborn. As far as mum is concerned, there is no housework, meals are made on request and her tummy is comfortably bound to ensure the womb contracts properly. Failure to get this adequate rest can result in low milk supply and an unsettled baby, among physical conditions.
Heck, I know. Out of what I felt was necessity, I jumped straight back into freelance life and the stress of feeling the need to earn an income. Just a few days after giving birth to my daughter, I was at the kitchen table writing a 5,000-word article for a magazine. Also physically pushing my body before I should have, resulted in a second degree prolapsed uterus—something I’d never heard about at the time, only to later learn it’s the most common health condition that affects women in the Western world (I’ll be writing a lot about prolapse, so check back). There’s something in that. What we’re doing postnatally isn’t working… for us, our babies, or our families.
Mumpreneur Kim Vespa discovered belly binding when she was “heavily pregnant” with her first child and suffering from “shocking” abdominal separation. She was surprised she hadn’t heard of wrapping the abdomen before—and that adequate wraps, at that time, weren’t available in Australia or New Zealand.
“Other cultures are totally on the money,” she says. “They take post-pregnancy belly binding very seriously—women from Asia, the Middle East and South America are by far my biggest clients… somewhere along the way the Western world really lost touch with this practice.”
“I don’t believe that health professionals spend enough time—or any in fact—educating women about how to look after their bodies post-pregnancy.”
Postnatal Care: Where to Start
- Read The First Forty Days by Heng Ou. This is my go-to book for my current pregnancy. I’m planning to prepare a lot of the meals from the recipes included in this new mother’s bible, which I’ll then freeze. The last thing you want to think about after having a baby is what to eat!
- Chinese and Haitian wisdom suggests staying warm. Take lavender baths, drink warm teas, eat only warm foods and wrap up if it’s winter.
- Rest in bed,
lying flat on your back when possible, for the first month post-birth.
- Have someone you love and trust sign on as your caregiver and house cleaner, taking care of chores so you can rest your body and your mind, while nurturing your baby.
- Treat yourself to in-home massages and take therapeutic baths, rather than showers, as they do in Indonesia.
- Book in for a Mayan massage, a treatment that’s said to speed up recovery and treat postnatal
issues such as prolapsed uterus.
- Wrap your belly in a Mayan faja to fast track abdominal and womb recovery.
- Stock up on pure essential oils that help nuture the mind and body and emotions, while supporting the body as it heals. I have my favourites stocked up and ready to apply and diffuse. I can organise wholesale pricing for anyone intersted in using the same pure, therapeutic grade essentials oils I use. Email me for further info.
- Make an appointment with a reputable homeopath prior to birth, to ensure you have some essential supportive remedies on-hand specific to you and your constitution.