The most important thing a new mom can do to recover from having a baby (no matter which way that baby arrives!) is to heal with food. I know my first time around with Costa; this was not on my mind, and nothing anyone pointed out to me. I was so overwhelmed with learning to breastfeed, trying to care for a newborn, and adjusting to a new, alien way of life. Self-care was the last thing on my mind. When I look back on those first few weeks with my firstborn, I was definitely operating in a manic state, acting as if everything was fine and under control while inside, I was spiraling. To think, I was catering parties three weeks after a C-Section, having Andre bring Costa to me so I could breastfeed halfway through an event, and crying and pumping on my drives home as my boobs felt like they were going to explode. It was pure insanity. But I didn’t know any better. I had Costa at 31 and was the first of my friends to have a baby. There was no one guiding me through the process. It was all unknown. I felt so much pressure to work and not disappear for an extended period…I feared that my clients would find someone else, that I wouldn’t be able to make enough money to support our growing family, and that if I said no, people would never want to work with me again. Of course, none of this was true, but it all felt very real to me at the time.
The second time around, I’m grateful that I knew better. Healing myself through nourishing food and rest were the most important things, especially because with the second one, I was already starting at a much more depleted place than with the first. Focusing on my own self-care allowed me to feel so much better in those early weeks and to heal much faster than my first time around.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you heal your body after having a baby:
1) Have a meal system in place for when you return home
This can be many different things, but the most important thing is that healthy food is readily available so you can easily nourish your depleted body. You’re going to be hungry, and you don’t want to continually be getting up and down, having to cook. In addition to helping you heal, it will also help tremendously with your milk production.
Ahead of time, freeze meals and snacks so that healthy, homemade food is ready to go. Everything from Lactation Cookies to One Bowl Banana Bread and Bolognese can be made weeks in advance and frozen so you can enjoy them in those early months.
Do some research ahead of time and determine if any local meal delivery services are specific to postpartum. In Los Angeles, Stephanie of Radiant Woman is an incredible holistic chef and postpartum doula who created meals explicitly designed to deeply nourish the new mother.
If you have friends who want to set up a meal train for you, let me know you would like nourishing healthy food, not just a bunch of takeout. Give them some suggestions for dishes, snacks, or restaurants that have more nutritious options.
2) No counting calories or worrying about your weight
You just had a baby! I repeat, You just had a baby!!!! Please be kind to yourself and your body during this time. You just did an incredible thing. Focus on taking care of yourself, not trying to lose baby weight or get back into your skinny jeans. Your body needs high calorie, high fat, and nutrient-dense food to heal, and if you choose to breastfeed, to produce nutrient-rich milk. While I think it’s vital to move your body each day, go for a walk, and get outside, this movement’s goal is not weight loss. It’s about healing, endorphins, sunshine, fresh air, and finding gratitude in the slow pace of those early days.
3) Hydration, hydration, hydration
Keep a big water bottle by the bed and keep it full. I find that I drink more water if I have a reusable bottle with a straw. Figure out whatever works for you, but more importantly, just drink a lot of water. It will help you feel better and will help with milk production.
In the end, if you take care of yourself, you’ll be a better you. You will have more patience, a greater attention span, and more energy. This idea applies well beyond those first few months and needs to always be something we are giving to ourselves. It really is one of the most important things. x