I became a Mama for the second time just 3 months ago. My firstborn, who is now 5, was the one to teach me how to listen to my intuition and, even though I faltered many a time, I learnt to shut out the outside noise. Not every child is the same and my sensitive baby boy didn't seem to fit into anything I'd read in the baby books. Yes, mama, it's hard when everyone has their opinion on what you should and shouldn't be doing and they feel the need to share it with you even when you didn't ask.
This time round I've been much more relaxed about everything. Content to parent in my own way and not be guilted into anything that doesn't feel aligned for me and baby girl.
Something that really helped this time round was allowing myself to rest and heal as much as possible within the first 42 days. Last time, I had no idea about this and kept looking at everyone else with slightly older children, getting on with their lives, and I thought I needed to do that as soon as possible. I was pushing myself to get out and about as soon as I could. This time I was adamant I would lean into the sacred Ayurvedic ways wherever possible and treat myself with as much care as my newborn baby. I wanted to be as gentle with myself as possible. I mean, the journey and transformation from maiden to mother is huge! Why are we not educated on this?
I remember the biggest difficulty for me postpartum with my firstborn was having someone physically on me all the time. I was someone who really needed her space and suddenly... it was no more. Yet at the same time I had this roaring mama-bear inside of me that didn't feel right leaving my babe to anyone else. I wanted to hold and nurture him and not let him out of my sight. This time round, I knew how I didn't want to feel and I had educated myself much more on ways
I could support myself. The whole Ayurvedic way of mothering the mother just seemed to make so much sense to me. I was adamant I would take my fourth trimester seriously this time.
What is Ayurvedic Postpartum Care?
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system based on the belief that our health and wellness are a balance of mind, body and spirit. Also known as the Science of Life, the Ayurvedic system has two main guiding principals, according to the Chopra Center:
1. The mind & body are inextricably connected
2. Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind
The foundations of Ayurveda are the three mind-body types known "doshas." These three doshas are: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha which are derived from the 5 elements of nature: space, air, fire, water, and earth. We all have a mix of the three but one will be dominant. My dosha is Vata. You can discover your dosha here.
Vata (space & air)
Pitta (fire & water)
Kapha (water & earth)
After giving birth, a mother needs to calm Vata, the space & air elements. If you think about how the baby has been birthed and there is now a lot of space in the abdomen, that's an abundance of Vata. The body is full of mobile, light, dry, and cold qualities during this sacred time after a loss of blood, fluid, and energy. We're also surviving on little sleep. So we calm Vata by nurturing new mamas with heavy, warm, oily, smooth, and stable qualities. This is done through diet (warm, oily, heavy, smooth foods), herbs (spices and herbs that nourish the blood and promote an abundance of breast milk), and massage with warm oils.
I decided to lean into these practices as much as possible in my 42 days postpartum. Allow myself to be mothered just as much as I was mothering my newborn babe. This allowed me to concentrate on bonding with my baby, rest whenever I could, keep stress and anxiety to a minimum, and just heal on every level, mind, body, and soul. I honestly can't believe the difference all of this made this time round in comparison to my first time.
I completely understand that some of you may not have much support around you and may feel you can barely fit anything in. The main thing is to not pressure yourself in any way and just treat yourself with as much tenderness as possible. If you can only fit in one little self-care thing a day then do that! Anything that feels comforting for you. It's such a raw, hormonal, emotional time but it's also filled with gold. The main thing is to include whatever you can that will help boost your oxytocin levels.
Some of the Postpartum Things That Helped Me
I didn't stick to a complete "confinement" but instead I chose to do what worked and felt good for me. I mostly stayed home for the first 6 weeks but sometimes I needed fresh air and sunshine, so we went for a walk. Sometimes I wanted to get out and just went to my parents' place for the day and allowed them to feed me and hold the baby while I chatted and laughed and felt connected again. I know some confinement traditions don't include showering however, a warm shower felt amazing to me each day and I'm all about boosting those oxytocin levels.
I warmed up coconut or jojoba oil and added grounding essential oils like Frankincense and Balance and massaged my body whenever I could after a shower. The warmth and the oil really calms Vata while the essential oils I chose were grounding.
I ate warming, oily, smooth, easily digestible foods wherever possible with lots of nourishing herbs and spices. I'm no great cook at the best of times so my hubby cooked mostly and I made a few simple things when I felt up to it. I loved this Cardamom & Orange Baked Oatmeal from milk + seed. I got lots of delish recipes from their site. You could always get meals delivered from somewhere like Soulara or The Golden Month. I also graciously accepted meals that family kindly made and dropped round.
I drank warming drinks. I love my morning cup of coffee so I added Jing adrenal tonic to it. In fact, I still do this most days. Superfeast's Jing is wonderful for new mamas as it's a blend of the Taoist herbal tradition's most revered Jing (kidney essence) herbs blended to cultivate energy in the kidney and adrenals, support healthy hormone function, stamina, and libido. I also drank dandelion tea because it's meant to be great for stimulating breastmilk production whilst also cleansing the liver, and supporting the repair of skin tissue (hello c-section). Bonus if you're still a little constipated as dandelion tea can be a very gentle laxative.
Each morning I put uplifting essential oils in my diffuser. I cannot tell you how much this supported my mood. I did this even in the hospital right after the birth of my babe. My main go-to blends were Cheer and Elevation. I popped both in the diffuser together. I used a little less in the diffuser than I normally would because I didn't want anything too strong around a newborn, same as when I was pregnant. I also swiped a little Clary Calm on my feet daily for hormonal support. Night time I always diffuse calming oils to wind down. My main staple is Lavender Peace restful blend. I also help support a good night's rest with magnesium cream massaged into my feet. Well, as much rest as you can get with newborn!
Belly binding is another Ayurvedic tradition. The belief is that it calms Vata and grounds the nervous system by preventing air and space from entering the body. It also guides the organs back into position, helps close the abdomen and support posture. I didn't know much about this Malaysian binding technique right after the birth of my daughter but I did actually wear a modern version. I wore (actually I still am wearing) recovery pants which I was prescribed by a women's Physio because I have quite a deep abdominal separation. I highly recommend seeing a women's Physio after giving birth. They will do an internal examination and check how you're recovering. After a c-section, even though your scar may be neat and tidy, inside there's a lot of scarring. So I'm now doing massage along my scar. Please check with a healthcare professional before doing this. I'm now 3 months postpartum. I've also been using Yarrow | Pom and Frankincense essential oils along the scar and it's fading nicely.
I also took whole food vitamins and supplements to ensure I was getting enough nutritional support. I personally take doTERRA's Lifelong Vitality supplements, as well as their Mito2Max capsules for energy, and their Turmeric dual chamber capsules (these include both the powder and the oil).
I'm sure there are plenty of other little things I did here and there to support myself postpartum but these are the main things I can think of right now. It took me a little while to get back to a regular meditation practice however I focused on conscious breathing as much as possible and simply surrendered to the season I'm in. It's not possible to do it all. Just accepting this short, fleeting time for what it is and enjoying the bonding with my baby has been the best thing. I honestly wish I treated myself with this much care my first time round.
So how about you? Did you have anything that helped you heal postpartum?