This post was created in partnership with our friends at Earth Mama Organics
Becoming a new mother is unlike anything in the world. Yes, it’s full of beautiful, awe-inspiring moments, but it’s also a time of massive adjustment and recovery—for both baby and mama.
If there’s one piece of advice Earth Mama could give every new mother, it’s this: Make a plan to take care of yourself. Because somewhere in between decorating the baby’s room and packing for the hospital, it’s easy to forget that giving birth is a huge deal, both mentally and physically—and you will need to recover. After all, if you were about to go into surgery, you’d plan for help afterwards, wouldn’t you? Especially if, after that surgery, you had a brand-new baby to care for?
Earth Mama advocates for creating a modern-day Lying-in Plan: a strategy for making the most of whatever time you have available to rest, recover and connect with your baby. Whether it’s a day, a week or a month, Earth Mama recommends making the most of the time you do have. Here are some things to remember and consider during those first few days with baby.
There is no such thing as an easy bounce-back after birth.
Whether you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean birth, keep this in mind: delivering a baby is a ginormous physical feat. You’ll be bleeding, but it’s not period blood; it’s because there’s a wound where your baby’s placenta was attached to your uterine wall. Don’t worry, it will heal—starting right away—but you can support healing by taking time and rest.
Your new job: resting, healing and connecting with your squishy little newborn.
Let someone else take care of food, run interference with visitors and entertain the toddler. The key? Take care of it in advance by setting yourself up with the resources you need, so you can be 100% focused on the new babe (go back to that Lying-in planning guide!). Less hurried cultures have similar healing, nurturing traditions. These practices were created for a good reason—it’s time our culture does the same.
The first few days create a lifelong imprint.
That initial period of connection with your baby is called imprinting—and it’s crucial to their development. Your newborn knows your voice, but now they’ll get to know your smell and the feel of your skin. Meanwhile, you’re setting eyes on them for the first time, and you’ll want to memorize every crease, dimple and sweet little facial expression.
You’re going to need support.
It can be difficult to ask for help. But friends and family are a huge part of post-baby “self” care, so gather your tribe of peeps in advance—the ones you trust will support you, attend to you and bring you what you need.
Hormones are no joke. Sleep deprivation isn’t either.
Directly after birth, a woman’s hormones go from 60 to zero in no time flat. In fact, hormonally, the first week postpartum has been likened to a drug withdrawal. Then, there’s the fact that new babies don’t understand the whole “sleeping” thing. So, you’ll be feeling a bit off, to put it lightly. Expect some ups and downs—there’s a lot of new things going on, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. You might want to cry (and you should!).
You will be sore. Padsicles help.
It goes without saying that you’ll be swollen and sore—think hemorrhoids, stitches in your perineum or even a cesarean wound. The good news is that childbirth isn’t new, and it’s been supported by herbal remedies for eons. Plus, your skin down south (or near any wound) is extra delicate, so you definitely don’t want any chemicals or toxins all up in there. Earth Mama recommends making some herbal “padsicles,” or frozen pads soaked in a brewed batch of their Organic Herbal Sitz Bath.
Your perineum might be a little angry with you.
It’s common…don’t worry. But Earth Mama has a few postpartum products that’ll help—especially as you face the idea that you will have to go to the bathroom. For ongoing relief, their Organic Perineal Balm contains a nourishing blend of organic herbal ingredients traditionally used to help with pregnancy and postpartum perineum discomfort. If you need more instant, right-now soothing, reach for the brand’s Herbal Perineal Spray. A quick spritz will help with temporary relief.
Your milk may take a second.
And that’s ok. For the first few days, you’ll be producing colostrum—that super nutrient-rich precursor to milk—while your baby nails the basics of latching, sucking and swallowing. Sometimes the real milk takes a couple of days to arrive. Sometimes, it takes longer. Lactation consultants are there to help, and so are galactagogues—herbs that help support healthy breast milk production. Earth Mama’s 100% Organic Milkmaid Tea is packed with fenugreek, fennel, milk thistle and other galactagogues, plus the power of nettle and raspberry leaf.
Boob engorgement is never fun.
Once your milk does come in, it’ll arrive with a vengeance. You’ll be nursing a lot—and if you get a stretch of more than 4 hours of sleep, you’ll be waking up with engorged breasts (and more often than not, a soaked top). It’s uncomfortable, but a pair of Booby Tubes—flax-filled organic cotton shells from Earth Mama—will help ease the discomfort. Toss ‘em in a freezer and, when cool, apply and soothe the tenderness that comes with engorgement.
You will feel normal again.
It’ll be a new normal, but normal nonetheless. You will get the hang of all of this—because women have been getting the hang of it since the beginning of time.
Enjoy this amazing adventure!