Although women do it every day, giving birth has a huge impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Once we leave the hospital, it’s easy to slip back into the necessities of life, with our primary focus being the care of our new little bundle.
But it’s equally as important to take care of yourself – your little one is relying on you after all!
You may feel like there’s little time to dedicate to your own health and wellbeing, but there are some simple things you can do to make an impact and aid your post-partum healing.
According to Nutritionist Tracie Hyam, food and diet plays a key role in natural aiding the healing process and helping in the areas that suffer following a pregnancy.
Here, Tracie offers her natural healing tips for some of the most common post-partum ailments.
- Avoid eating and drinking caffeine (coffee/chocolate) and alcohol close to bedtime. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant and found in black teas, coffee and chocolates and can inhibit sleep.
- Allow at least 2 hours from when you finish your last meal before sleep, the approximate time it takes for food to be digested, and this promote a better quality, more sound sleep.
- Eating a balanced meal of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates before bed will also promote better quality sleep by delivering balanced energy and encouraging less sugar load; and avoid over-eating (where you feel ‘full’).
- An example of a balanced meal (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) is baked salmon with steamed vegetables and rice, or it can be as simple as boiled eggs on wholegrain toast with salad and olive oil.
- Foods rich in vitamins and minerals are the best for immune-boosting and warding off illness; these are vegetables and fruits, nuts, oils, whole grains and quality meats.
- Vitamin C is well known for it’s immune-boosting properties and is found in foods such as kiwi fruits, oranges and lemons.
- Mineral zinc is essential for a strong immune system and unfortunately the body doesn’t naturally store it, so we must consume it regularly. It can be found is foods like red meat, poultry, beans and lentils, nuts and seafoods. Red meat and some poultry are particularly high in mineral iron that supports the immune system and assists with energy production.
- Vegetables such as pumpkin, broccoli, spinach and beetroot are high in various nutrients including Vitamin A, folate and magnesium that protect, and assist relaxation. Relaxation is important for overall health, stress is one of the most common factors contributing to illness.
- Raw nuts, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados deliver nutrients that sustain energy and promote skin healing, while whole grains can provide large amounts of vitamins B’s, known for converting foods into energy.
- The best way to increase energy throughout the day is to eat regular small meals/ snacks that are healthy and contain a balance of nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water to assist with energy levels, fatigue is common when dehydrated, and it’s very easy to become dehydrated after birth and when breastfeeding.
- A vitamin supplement that aims to improve all aspects of your physical wellbeing. These are a particularly great idea if you’ve finished breastfeeding and are no longer taking your pre-natal supplement.
- Gentle exercise will help.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises help perineal stitches to heal by improving circulation to the area and this can naturally reduce swelling.
- If you’re unsure about how to do pelvic floor exercises, speak with your midwife or physiotherapist.
- Another tip to reduce swelling is applying cold ice blocks to the area, helping to feel less uncomfortable.
- I really recommend gentle postpartum Yoga moves aimed for stretching, relaxation and deep breathing.
- Treat yourself to a gentle massage by a trained therapist to help relieve those muscle aches and pains caused by childbirth.
- Stay hydrated. Some lower back pain can be caused by dehydration and simply alleviated by drinking water.
- Increasing intake of foods rich in healthy fats such as oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and raw nuts will help relieve dry skin from the inside out.
- Coconut oil and avocado are well known as effective topical treatments for dry skin too.
- Applying oil to dry or stretching skin will alleviate a dry itch and prevent stretch marks.
- Including dark leafy green vegetables, oily fish and berries in the diet during pregnancy and after will help skin’s elasticity and prevent stretch marks by increasing and protecting collagen.
- These foods can help to heal scars and increase skin renewal.
- Avoid focusing too much on weight loss soon after your baby is born; rather focus on eating well and enjoy this time with your newborn.
- Eating well includes choosing wholesome natural foods, avoiding fast foods and energy drinks or high sugar snacks.
If you’re concerned about your weight or would like professional advice about your diet or health, speak with an accredited Nutritionist.
Happy Gut Health
Recent research indicates that there is more and more linkage between quality gut health and many elements of our physical and emotional wellbeing. Gut health revolves around the idea of nurturing the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut, which will help to fight off the ‘bad’ bacteria when there is too much of it, in order to keep us happy and healthy. As a new mum, there are many reasons that prioritising gut health is more important than ever.
- Hormone levels: Prioritising gut heath can prevent many stomach imbalances, including one called ‘leaky gut’. Such imbalances of bacteria can disrupt our estrobolome, which is the particular bacteria that metabolises oestrogen. Meaning an unbalanced gut, can equal unbalanced hormones. As new mums, we know our hormones can be crazy at the best of times. Ensuring our gut is healthy and full of ‘good’ bacteria is important. The regular use of a probiotic can help with this.
- Antibiotics: Many mums experience challenging postnatal conditions that may require a bout of antibiotics to heal. While antibiotics are fantastic for helping fight unwanted bacteria, they also strip the ‘good’ bacteria from our gut, which will often lead to an unsettled stomach. The use of probiotics is always recommended with antibiotics. This means our body can replace the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut, while we let the antibiotics do their important job.
- Diet changes: Having a baby can mean many different things when it comes to diet. Mums who breastfeed need more food to keep up their milk supply, they also might change their diet slightly to ensure their bub is getting all the nutrients it needs in its first days, weeks and months in the world. The change in lifestyle can also mean we are eating different foods for various reasons. Factors including a new busy lifestyle, or having someone else to your prepare meals, can play a part. These changes can confuse our bodies when they become so used to certain habits. Maintaining elements of routine in our diet can help keep us to feel comfortable. Again, the use of a probiotic to maintain similarity and ensure our gut is being fed the bacteria it needs every day, even as our diet may alter, can help us feel happy and energised in a new and busy time of our lives.
Managing a busy lifestyle
My advice to handle the busy and tiring lifestyle of a parent is to prepare foods in advance, store them in the fridge to have on hand, and freeze when you can.
- Be prepared with chopped vegetables in the fridge to grab and eat or cook with when need; bake wholesome muffins , healthy biscuits, slices and mini pies/quiches that can be stored in containers or frozen and eaten anywhere, anytime.
- Boil eggs and have them in the fridge as a great nutritious and energy-giving snack; Juice fruits and vegetables and store them in fridge to have as healthy energy drinks.