Creating best practices by doing positive things for our bodies, minds and spirits is vital for creating and sustaining happy, healthy lifestyles. Self-care is necessary and wonderful for us, especially through the postpartum period. During this time, it can be difficult to get into a routine with so many changes happening, but there are still ways to make sure we are cared for and nurtured daily as well.
Setting alarms or using reminders
Setting alarms or using reminders like everytime “____” happens, I’m going to do “____”, can help ensure you get the things you need. Most importantly you know yourself best!!! You may use some, or all of these practices! You are unique. What do you need? Ask yourself, “what makes you feel good? What specific things or techniques could you use help with and who can help?”
Check with your healthcare provider
It’s important to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your self-care routine to make sure they are safe changes for you personally. It’s important to ask an expert before incorporating anything new into your personal health routine.
Hiring a postpartum doula or Electing A Friend or Family Member
Just having the help of a postpartum can make a world of difference. A doula will be able to assist you and your family in everything on these lists, by either doing it themselves or gathering the necessary resources for you to be able to manifest what you need. Having the support of your loved ones can be a win/win for all parties involved!
Some helpful techniques:
- Staying hydrated and eating healthy nutritious food. Perhaps the most important yet most easily forgotten. Good rule of thumb- drink water everytime the baby eats! Eat good meals as regularly as possible and keep healthy snacks around.
- Meal train from loved ones.
- Postpartum help train from loved ones. You can have an on call list, and/or set times for helpers to come and can make the duties as specific or open-ended as you prefer. Duties may include watching baby/other children so you can rest, shower, go to appointments, pet care, shopping, housekeeping, or meal prep.
- Keep all postpartum appointments for you and baby.
- Take all supplements/prescriptions from healthcare providers.
- Skin to Skin
- Sitz baths
- Belly binding
- Do things to promote good circulation
- Facial massage
- Body massage
- Meditation, prayer, etc. Whatever you need spiritually, religiously
- if something doesn’t feel right or seem right reach out to someone without hesitation
- know the red flags(see below) and reach out for help if needed.
Specialist you may want to call on:
Pelvic floor specialist
Lactation Consultant(CLC or IBCLC)
PCP, Midwife, OB/GYN
“If something doesn’t feel or seem right, reach out without hesitation.”
Red flags- please reach out for help
Bleeding- bleeding should lessen with time, not get heavier. It also should change from bright red to brown. Get checked out if it turns back to red after brown, bleeding gets heavier with time, you have blood clots bigger than a plum, or if bleeding soaks more than one sanitary pad an hour and doesn’t slow down or stop.
- PPCM -Peripartum cardiomyopathy-aka postpartum cardiomyopathy, is a form of heart failure that happens during pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth.
- Symptoms of PPCM- Irregular heart beat, feeling of heart racing or skipping beats (palpitations)
- Increased nighttime urination
- Shortness of breath with activity and when lying flat.
- Swelling of the ankles.
- Swollen neck veins.
- Low blood pressure, or it may drop when standing up.
Some of these symptoms can be easily disregarded because we are so often exhausted and going through changes in the postpartum period. Please get checked out if you have any concerns. Getting an echocardiogram can determine whether it’s PPCM or not. Also a blood test measuring a protein produced by the heart and blood vessels (brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels) could help show if you have a distressed or damaged heart. They may also look for fluid in your lungs as an indication of PPCM.
Postpartum Depression or baby blues can have very similar symptoms. The biggest differences are the time frame and severity of symptoms. If you have these symptoms beyond two weeks it is postpartum depression and you need to notify your provider and get help.
Lastly, making a postpartum plan during pregnancy can be very beneficial to you and your family. It can be incorporated into your baby shower, diaper party etc or just shared as its own event and can gather practical support from your loved ones who want to be there to do something for your unit. Just having an idea of what needs you might have and preparing for them is helpful, and know that different needs may arise.
Don’t forget, you know you best! So what do you need?