Upon giving birth, no matter how birth is experienced, we are completely different people postpartum.
We are no longer who we were the day before. Experiencing labor and delivery changes everything. We spend months preparing for a baby to enter our world all the while never truly understanding just how much life is beautifully disrupted until they are in our arms, and we are in the thick of it. It’s far and few between that we, as women and mothers, prepare for self-care postpartum.
As defined by the medical industry, “postpartum” is the first six weeks post birth. How many of us truly plan for self-care during those first six weeks and beyond here in the United States? There are entire cultures that surround their women postpartum to ensure they are taken care of and healing both their mind and their body.
Here are five self-care must haves for new parents postpartum.
- Meal Train
A meal train is exactly what it sounds like. Close friends and family can sign up to bring you a meal after you give birth. Releasing the burdens of meal planning, preparation, and cooking reduces stress, encourages the village culture, and gives you time to continue bonding with your baby. Using the Meal Train website, you can input your favorite meals, specific dietary guidelines, times of day to drop off, etc. You get to decide the rules and here at IAPBP, we implore you to be unapologetic about that. If you’d like friends and family to simply drop the meals off and then go without visiting – that can happen. Boundaries are our friends and are indicators of deep love for self and others.
More common than not, humans as a whole are breathing incorrectly and we are actually breathing from the top of our diaphragm, causing erratic trauma responses. If we can control our breath, we increase oxygen to our brain, and can begin the shift from survival mode to responsiveness. Box breathing is a common form of breathing that many find beneficial. To begin, breathe in deeply with your nose and count to four. Hold that breath for four seconds. Release that breath through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat three more times. Picture a box while doing so and visualize peace.
Affirmations are positive statements written in the present tense. These are truths that you speak over yourself. These positive truths challenge unhelpful thoughts and over time, will help to retrain your brain to respond to life’s happenings versus falling into the same “I’ve always done it this way” mantra.
Here are examples of positive affirmations:
I am taking one day, one moment at a time.
My body is continuing to heal.
I am a strong and capable parent.
I can make room for rest.
- Home Care
Instead of a traditional baby shower, consider asking your friends and family to go in together and purchase services such as laundry washing and home cleaning. These everyday tasks that you’ve been participating in for much of your life may seem impossible. The mourning laundry and dirty floors are enough to trigger anxiety and depression in more than many. Hiring an outside service for these tasks removes the vulnerability of asking someone you know and love to help and also supports your community. Let’s normalize delegating these tasks.
In addition to asking for support for your home and laundry, you can also hire a postpartum doula to further support you. There are specific doulas for labor and delivery, photography, postpartum care, postpartum nutrition, and more. Look for a postpartum doula that will support you post labor and delivery for those first six weeks. Sleep deprivation is real; a doula can help by holding your baby while you rest. They can meal prep, pick up your home, entertain children, sit with you and help you work through the many emotions you’re feeling, and so much more.
We hope these self-care tips fill your cup and invite a warm, welcoming, and peaceful postpartum experience.
The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) was established to assist expectant birth persons who are in search of a professional birth photographer or videographer in their area. Learn more about us here!
Feature Image: Amanda Ditzel