A mom’s life after giving birth can be extremely difficult. Raging hormones, lack of sleep, and unsolicited childrearing advice from friends and family places lots of stress on a mom. So for all moms who are struggling to keep their heads above water with a newborn to care for, I wanted to share a variety of things I did or used that helped me during my postpartum journey.
Please note, I am not a health care professional and I advise you do your own research and consult with your doctor or midwife before doing any of the below.
Water intake: I increased my daily intake to 80% of my body weight in ounces and added lemon to aid digestion. This also helped with my milk supply, especially right after giving birth. Not to mention it helped get me regular as fast as possible!
Placenta Pills: I had my placenta encapsulated for my second and third births, but not my first. I could not tell a difference between not using pills with my first child and using pills with my second and third children. However, this third time around, I felt an increase in energy whenever I took the pills and had an increased milk supply. I actually had to take the pills early in the morning so I wouldn’t be up all night!
I also made sure to drink plenty of water because otherwise I would get a headache if I didn’t. I never took the full prescribed dose because I felt a little wonky when I did. I think most doulas prescribe 8 pills a day for the first week after birth. I only took around 4 a day for the first week and then only 2 a day in the morning for the first month. This was a good dose for my body, and another benefit was that I had them for longer. On the days I forgot to take them in the morning, I didn’t feel like I had as much energy. After the first month I would take 1-2 a day when I needed energy boost or milk increase and stored them in the freezer.
Milk Supply Tips:
I find my milk supply is at its best when I have a good amount of greens, healthy fats, and fiber-filled carbs. Oats are my go-to food for the first 2-3 postpartum months. When I don’t have oats or oat flour for a couple of days, I can tell a difference in my milk (from a quantity stand point). Also, I feel my best and have fatty milk when I eat good fats (like avocados, nuts, coconut butter & oil, nut butters), so I eat these throughout my day. The best thing I can do is to hydrate. It’s easy to forget to drink water when you are breast feeding, so I always have a water bottle in my purse to fill up wherever I go. I don’t love to drink water, so I keep electrolyte replenishers with me. The brand I use is Superieur (use code: EAGLE) to try it out for a 15% discount.
Belly Band: I used this for the first time following my 3rd pregnancy. I was not aware of this product after my first two. I’m not going to put a specific brand on here because I think they can all do the job (maybe some better than others but I didn’t get anything fancy). I tried two different bands, one for $10 and one for $80, and they both did the same thing. They were great for my posture and back support while holding or breast feeding June in the early months. I didn’t start to wear mine until 3 weeks postpartum because I didn’t think I needed one. I ordered one just to see what would happen, and I noticed a big difference in fluid reduction in my lower abdomen after just a couple of days wearing it. I don’t wear it the entire day – usually just a couple of hours. I will continue to use it until June is 3 months postpartum or until my uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Diastasis Recti / Abdominal Separation / Pelvic Floor Rehab:
Quickly What is DR?
(straight from Wikipedia) Also known as abdominal separation, DR is commonly defined as a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. The distance between the right and left rectus abdominis muscles is created by the stretching of the linea alba, a connective collagen sheath created by the aponeurosis insertions of the transverse abdominis, internal oblique, and external oblique. In pregnant or postpartum women, the condition is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. It is more common in multiparous women due to repeated episodes of stretching. When the defect occurs during pregnancy, the uterus can sometimes be seen bulging through the abdominal wall beneath the skin.
My personal experience with DR:
After my first and second pregnancies, my doctor and midwife told me at my 5 week checkup that I was good to go and I had no “separation.” I didn’t do anything extra to strengthen my pelvic floor or transverse abdominals besides continuing yoga and slowly working back into my regular routine. This third pregnancy, I’m much more aware of my abdominals and knew to check and start working on DR / separation right away. At 3 weeks postpartum, I had a 3 finger gap right above my belly button. Once my midwife came for my 6 week checkup, she said I had about 2.5 finger gap. I’ve been doing research and working to close the gap while strengthening my pelvic floor. I even started a workout DR series for postpartum moms. You can find the links to my DR videos below & one on how to check if you have separation – I plan on doing these videos and others that I come across until I close the gap. The toughest thing for me is to DO the exercises. They are not hard, they are not strenuous, but I have to keep doing them!
My DR Video Series to help close the separation & strengthen my pelvic floor:
Solly Baby Wrap: (First 2 months <12 lbs) This is my new favorite! A good friend gave me her wraps to use and the fabric for the hot weather was perfect! June never got too hot and neither did I. I wore her in here when I’m doing things around the house, grocery shopping etc. and they wash and dry easily in the washer incase they get dirty.
Baby Bjorn: I wear/ wore all of my kids in the Bjorn when they were <12 lbs when I am active or outdoors (hiking, walking, body weight exercises). It has good support for when they are tiny and gives them some air to breathe when you are outdoors. Once they get bigger than 12 lbs, I switched to the Ergo 360 because it has better back and shoulder support.
Ergo 360: This is probably the best investment my husband and I have ever made for baby wearing. The support around your waist and chest makes all the difference when carrying kids bigger than 12 lbs. We use the front, back, and side options, depending on the activity we are doing. I even breastfed my second and third children in this wrap with both hands free without anyone know I was feeding them. This is not something I would recommend doing all the time but in a pinch it was helpful!
Postpartum Diet:I try to eat whole foods (that means nothing processed!) 90% of the time, including lots of healthy greens, bright colored vegetables & fruits, healthy fats for baby’s milk, and fiber to help me stay regular. While breastfeeding I don’t restrict any food group and eat what my body craves. It’s easy for me to want to get back to my lean and mean grain-free, dairy-free pre-pregnancy way of eating, but at this point it’s not about me – it’s about fueling a body to feed someone else.
Just like when I was pregnant, I listened to my body to decide what to eat. I am a big believer in the 4th trimester (first 3 months postpartum) and letting baby and your body get used to the world and let your body work its way back. My husband says it best “Trust your body, it knows what it’s doing. It’s been here before!”
I also let June (#3) and the others eat on demand and never had a set schedule for them to eat. I let them each breastfeed as long as they wanted and both my oldest and middle ended up stopping on their own at 11 months & 18 months once I was pregnant with the next child. Some say your milk changes and maybe that is what happened. With this being said I also listen to my body and eat on demand. If I’m hungry I’ll eat and if not I won’t.
Exercise: Everyone is different and I think this is a tricky subject. If you follow me on social media you know I was “moving” / walking 2 weeks postpartum because it felt good. Slowly, week by week, I listened to my body and did a little more depending on how I felt after each workout. For the first 3 postpartum months I did DR exercises 2-3x a week and walked daily. Twice a week starting after 3 weeks postpartum I did non-intensive body weight exercises to fire up muscles (ex. squats, small muscle activation with arms, abs back) and even slow, restorative self-led yoga for stretching feels good, especially since my breastfeeding and child-holding posture is horrible. I was cleared to get back to working out after 6 weeks postpartum and went back to teaching yoga. I am still modifying my Buti yoga practice since I have separation, and I’m staying away from sit-ups, long plank work, etc.
Tips for breastfeeding posture & Mom Posture:
We all sit hunched over after carrying our little ones around all day long and not to mention middle of the night breastfeeding posture (I don’t even know what that looks like half asleep!)
Here are some great videos to help you stretch and open up back & shoulders!
Recipes to try:
My favorite recipes from my website for milk supply & for energy during these first couple of months postpartum are below!
Hang in there mama and tell yourself you are doing great. Each day is a blessing even if we are walking zombies some days!
Please reach out if you would like to discuss postpartum or pregnancy. Do you know someone who is pregnant now? Have them check out my Pregnancy Favorites Blog.
Any other questions you have, please comment below and I’ll try to comment so we can keep this postpartum discussion going! I’m not an expert or a doctor but I’ve got an ear to listen and that sometimes is all we need!