Childbirth affects every part of your body. You change on all levels and it takes time to heal and recover. It can be overwhelming at times when you’re adjusting to life with a new baby, dealing with sleep deprivation, and trying to figure out how to care for your little one.
5 key areas are ideal for optimal well-being in the fourth trimester, or the first 12 weeks after giving birth: rest, nourishment, warmth, touch, and community.
Rest is vitally important in healing the body, mind, and spirit and in supporting the nervous system and hormones to regulate after the transformation of pregnancy, labor, and birth.
From the Moroccan Hamam & Closing the Bones Ceremony, to the cuarentena in Mexico, to the concept of Chinese confinement, or zuo yue zi, birthing people around the world prioritize rest after giving birth.
The help of a postpartum doula in the home in the weeks after birth helps facilitate true rest and ensure that household tasks carry on.
In many cultures around the world, and from a holistic perspective, food is considered medicine. A postpartum doula can help with meal preparation and provide healthy, easy-access snacks for the birthing person to enjoy around the clock.
Getting enough water throughout the day is important and the doula can make sure that healthy drink options are also easily accessible.
After birth, the body is in a state of repair and instability when nutrient-dense foods are all the more important. Without thoughtful intention about what food and drink goes into the postpartum body, healing can be delayed, mood swings can be more prevalent, and other complications can arise, making the earliest days after birth even harder.
For many new mothers around the world, there’s great emphasis on staying warm in the weeks after birth. Blood loss – regardless of vaginal or cesarean delivery – can reduce circulation, making it harder to maintain a steady body temperature.
Being warm helps with regular oxytocin production which is directly correlated with milk production and bonding.
A postpartum doula can help keep you warm by bringing you warm teas and foods, making sure you have enough clean throw blankets lying around the house, cozy socks to keep your feet warm, and more.
Mammals need physical touch and while the role of a postpartum doula isn’t always hands-on with the birthing person, sometimes it can be.
Perhaps someone needs the doula to sit by their side and hold their hand while they voice their concerns about life with a newborn or while they process their birth experience.
Perhaps touch comes in the form of a hug or a shoulder to cry on, or making sure that everything is taken care of around them so that all they have to focus on is touching and bonding with their new baby.
Touch helps regulate blood sugar and body temperature, it can calm the nervous system, and center both parent and baby.
Without the help of a village around them, many postpartum parents quickly feel isolated and overwhelmed. To successfully execute the aforementioned areas of postpartum healing, having help around, like a postpartum doula, can make all the difference.
Because many people live far away from their families, it becomes the responsibility of the birthing person to create a community around themselves.
Thinking of a postpartum doula as a resource guide, she might be able to suggest parenting groups, feeding support groups, playgroups, etc. in your area to give you some socializing to look forward to in addition to having people to call on for support. For some, the presence of a postpartum doula is enough, and for others, having that person on their team is meaningful in addition to having a slew of others to rely upon.
Preparing for postpartum can be overwhelming because there are so many different moving parts. This blog post will help you decide what you want to focus on while you prepare for postpartum. Discuss this list with the people who are supporting your pregnancy: your partner, your provider, your doula, your family, etc. Include the community you have in your preparations so that they can support your postpartum journey as well.
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