The postpartum chapter is an entirely new experience, especially for your first baby. It is time of building deep connection to your new baby as well as a rebirth for the mother's identity; it is a time of healing and rest. As I am approaching one year of parenthood as my daughter turns one in a week, I wanted to take the time to share the Ayurvedic wellness tips and advice I practiced during my postpartum time.
In Ayurveda, the first 40 days after giving birth are an important to nourish the mother. The saying goes 40 days for 40 years because often times if nutrients and balance is not replenished during this time, it can manifest later in a women's health. Not only in Ayurveda, but in other Eastern medicine practices, this is a time for rest and recovery as you bond with your baby. Here in the US, most of us do not have the luxury of this as we often have to return to work quickly or our partner returns to work quickly leaving the new mother on her own during the day.
Because of the busyness of our modern society, my advice is to prep in advance or make arrangements for help if you can in terms of cooking, chores, etc. It is so important what we eat and drink in the weeks after giving birth. Ayurveda teaches us to balance Vata during this time. Vata is the air and space element; after giving birth; you can think of it as there is a literal excess of space in the body as our organs begin to shift back into place, etc. To nourish Vata dosha, we need warm, grounding foods, warm teas, cozy clothing and home space as well as avoid overstimulation through social media, television and the internet. Think easy to digest soups, porridges, vegetable juices and healing milk tonics plus soft, warm clothing and soft, gentle music over television.
3 Ways to Prepare for your Postpartum Journey
1. Deep Clean your Space and Meal Prep
I recommend a clean space because it is so helpful to your mental and emotional wellbeing. A clean bedroom with your diffuser nearby and favorite Spritz seem like a simple thing now but can feel like a lovely daily self-care moment when you do not have much time to yourself in the first few weeks.
For meal prep, I recommend making a "menu" for at least a couple of weeks. I planned a month of meals and purchased all the dry goods in advance, while making simple weekly lists of the fresh items so it was handy for a partner or friend to pick up. I also made an abundance of bone broth and vegetable soups and froze them in individual servings so they could be easily reheated and prepared. This seems simple but was a game-changer for my family to not end up eating unhealthy take-out or other food was not nourishing.
Foods to favor include oatmeal, stewed apples or other fruit, vegetable soups, bone broth, iron-rich vegetables, kitchari and root vegetables. Foods to limit or avoid entirely include anything dry (dried fruit, chips, crackers), heavy foods like dairy and meat, cold milk, tomatoes and other acidic nightshades, coffee and alcohol. Our Postpartum Mama tea features all of the organic herbs you need for calmness, hydration and is naturally caffeine free.
2. Have Essential Oil Blends on Hand
For me, I personally did not use essential oils on my baby as I do not think it is necessary in the newborn phase, but I did find great benefit in using essential oils for myself at this time for both my physical and mental/emotional wellness. For mood, I used Serene as a roll-on blend throughout the day and I would diffuse Soothe in the home throughout the day. These blends both have frankincense, an amazing essential oil for our emotions while balancing our Vata dosha as well as lavender, a gentle harmonizing essential oil that calms and soothes.
For digestion, I used Agni and would roll this blend directly onto my abdomen. The power of peppermint, fennel and ginger, ease constipation and aid digestion after birth.
I also recommend stocking up on your favorite scents to have on hand for those quick moments of self-care you can fit into your day. I personally love ylang ylang, patchouli and clary sage so Evening was my go-to spritz that I used as a body spray daily during this time.
3. Set Boundaries for you and your Family
As a new mother, your main objectives are to rest and heal, while nurturing and building connection to your new baby. If you choose to have family or friends visit, set time limits or have a task in mind that they can help you with while visiting. This is not the time to be hosting and taking care of others (besides your new baby, of course!) Really take this special time to bond, rest and heal not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.
Of course, there are many products on the market that are helpful as well; but really the focus should be on preparing and having a plan for nourishing food and rest when you are able. Basic Ayurvedic guidelines for the first forty days include laying down as much as possible for the first seven days after birth before adding gentle movements such as walking into your day, regular meal times, herbal tea throughout the day to stay warm and hydrated, using a belly wrap or band to support your organs during the day and massage your skin daily with warm oil before your shower or bath.
Looking for more guidance in the postpartum window and beyond? Feel free to email me at alexa@alevanbotanica to learn more about my meal planning guides as well as Ayurvedic health coaching for any phase of life you are in. I look forward to connecting with you.