A Natural Mamas Guide to Postpartum Healing & Recovery

     Being a new mom and experiencing postpartum was, and is, one of the strangest and most difficult transitions I have ever experienced. As someone already familiar with the world of parenting and childbirth due to my education (masters degree in infant and toddler mental health and 8 years as an infant and toddler teacher), I thought I had some slight idea of what postpartum would look like. Oh, how wrong I was. Most likely, your body will look nothing like your pre-pregnancy body and really it shouldn’t. After all, you just created another human. It takes a toll on your body. From the fun and oh so stylish adult diapers to the roller coaster of emotions, postpartum can be a challenging and life altering experience.

      Having a home birth with my first, I had a supportive group of midwives to guide me and attended monthly childbirth classes. We discussed the process and what to expect regularly. Regardless of the support and education, there were things I just had no clue about, especially regarding the postpartum body. First off, I felt like I had been hit by a car after birth. Every muscle in my body ached and I couldn’t walk unassisted for a few days. To be fair, I had an unusually long labor, 75 hours, with around 7 hours of pushing, but I had no idea I would be so physically exhausted and aching after birth. I knew birth was hard and would be painful in its own regard, but I didn’t realize the residual pain it would cause, and not just in my nether regions. Pregnancy and birth completely changed my body. Everything looked and felt different. Fluids were coming out of literally everywhere. I would wake up drenched in sweat, breast milk and other fun fluids everyday for weeks. (Apparently heavy sweating is a postpartum thing?!). I didn’t recognize myself or my emotions. I would swing quickly from one mood to the next even though I had some lovely bliss hormones from meeting my new baby. Postpartum is different for everyone, but if no one shares what really happens, how can any of us really prepare for this crazy time? I had endless numbers of people attempt to tell me what to expect from the baby, but no one told me I’d be in diapers icing my nether regions for a week or so.

    Thankfully, my midwives, tips I picked up from other moms, and my own research helped me to make it through postpartum and heal my body. After what felt like endless months, I found my balance and my identity as a mother. I began to feel healthy and whole again. As I prepare to bring my second child earthside, I’ve decided to compile a list of helpful tips for postpartum to make the transition less dramatic and easier for myself and hopefully for other mamas who face the transformative time of postpartum. 

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Magnesium and Zinc Supplements

A few months into postpartum, I found myself still struggling with the baby blues and mood swings. I struggled to regulate my emotions. Looking for solutions, I took to the internet and dived into the research. I was so thankful to have actually found somewhat of a solution. It turns out, depression or depressive symptoms can actually be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. I even heard a few other moms mention it helped them during their postpartum period. I decided to try it out and within a day I found it easier to enjoy daily living and not so hard to regulate my emotions.

“Magnesium deficiency could cause abundant psychiatric symptoms including depression, behavior disturbances, headaches, generalized tonic-clonic as well as focal seizures, vertigo, tremors, irritability and psychotic behavior”

“In pregnancy, the fetus and placenta absorb huge amounts of nutrients particularly magnesium from the mother; this depletion of magnesium with not enough intake of magnesium by the mother is hypothesized to be the cause of postpartum depression.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3430492

Although I personally did not try zinc supplements during my postpartum time with my first, I plan to try it with my second. Similar to magnesium, this mineral may play a key role on postpartum mood disorders.

“Zinc as a trace element has the second highest concentration of all transition metals in the brain, and its deficiency is associated with behavioral disturbances. Lower zinc blood concentration was found in women with postpartum depression.” 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3430492

Herbs

Herbs have endless medical and healing properties and are a great resource for healing during postpartum. From sitz baths to teas, herbs can play a key role in healing after giving birth.

For a sitz bath or peri bottle to promote healing after birth, there are some great recipes of natural herbs to prevent infection, soothe pain, and speed up healing. My favorite recipe is from Wellness Mama:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Comfrey Leaf

1/2 cup Lavender Flowers

1/4 cup Plantain Leaf

1/2 cup Red Raspberry Leaf

1/4 cup Yarrow Flower

1/4 cup Calendula Flowers

1/4 cup Shepherd’s Purse

1/4 cup Uva Ursi Leaf

1/4 cup Sea Salt or Epsom Salt

You can find a premade sitz herb mix here.

If you are interested in a calming cup of tea rather than a soak, there are a few great options that will help you heal and recover.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red raspberry leaf tea strengthens the uterus, helps it to return to it’s pre-baby size, and eases postpartum cramping pain.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea regulates digestion and promotes calming relaxation to ease anxiety and promote better sleep.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea promotes breast milk production, relieves nausea, and reduces stomach cramps.

Nettle Leaf Tea

Nettle leaf tea helps restore iron levels, calms the body, and boosts breast milk supply. It also replenishes the body because it is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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Sunshine

Even if this seems like common sense, it needs to be said. Getting outside during the postpartum period is pretty low on any mamas priority list, but it’s necessary for you and baby. The sunshine will replenish your Vitamin D, as well as babies, and regulate both of your hormones, especially sleep hormones. The more natural light baby gets, the more likely they’ll jump on a day/night sleep schedule and you’ll all get more sleep. Not to mention, the awesome happy hormones the sunshine will help you release.

“The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin.”

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#mental-health

Support & More Support

As much as you may think you will not need support during postpartum (me thinking i could be  a super mom), you WILL need support. If you don’t have family or friends available to help, try to set aside money or request as a gift from your baby shower practical support like a maid or food service. Enlist those who are willing to help with the daily duties, not the baby, while you recover and bond with your new baby. Although I didn’t really want my mother to be present after having my daughter so I could enjoy my new time as a parent, I actually ended up being really thankful she did show up. She was happy to help with the grunt work like laundry, dishes, and walking the dog while I focused on my new role of being a mom. Also if possible, have your partner take off as much time as possible. You’ll both want to be present for these new days and learning together what works makes you feel more like a team.

Postpartum, or the fourth trimester, is a substantial time in your new experience as mama and while no one can predict how it will go, it is helpful to have natural healing remedies on hand to face any challenges that may arise as well as ease the basic aches and pains that come with giving birth.

Please note I am not a medical professional and this information should not be substituted for medical advice.

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43 Comments on “A Natural Mamas Guide to Postpartum Healing & Recovery

  1. I so appreciate that you’re discussing your own postpartum. A friend of mine and I have had the conversation many times that postpartum seems to be the silent elephant in the room as all of the congratulations are given and people around us are excited. I have 4 children who mean the world to me, but that doesn’t mean postpartum was easy.

  2. I wish I would have found this blog post right after I had my little one! So much great information!

  3. Yes! You said it right. Support and more support! Ask for things you need and make sure you don’t let yourself feel isolated.

  4. This is a great guide! I love the sunshine tip – I feel like that really helped me after delivery. Like a week afterwards I was able to start walking around again and stroller walks with my baby really helped us not only bond but also help me recover.

  5. Great read thanks! Gonna keep these tips in mind when baby #3 shows up. Much love.

  6. This is such a great guide. I especially love the list of all of the different teas and their benefits!

    -Jennifer

  7. I drank red raspberry leaf and nettle leaf tea. I added bilberry, too. They were amazing! Thanks for the tips!

  8. I agree with and can attest to support and sunshine! Both are needed to help with that tender postpartum recovery. I never thought about magnesium and zinc though. I’m keeping that in mind if I’m blessed with another pregnancy and birth! Now I’m going to find your home birth story!!!

  9. I’m so thankful there are moms like you out there sharing your experience with postpartum! I’ll be experiencing it for the first time any day now when our baby decides to make the big arrival, and I’ve been so thankful for insight like this! I’ve not heard about trying the magnesium yet, so I’ll be adding that to my notes!

  10. Great post. Postpartum period is truly intense no matter what. I had an emergency C-section with my first and a VBAC with my second and both recoveries were long and difficult. In some ways my C-section recovery was faster and easier. But yes, the residual changes stay for a long long time. Sometimes years past the birth. I also tried on rebalancing my system with vitamins and by increasing my Vit D, magnesium and zinc, I have been able to help some of my aches and pains.

  11. This was a very good article. I really like how you encourage a gentle way to recover after childbirth. A new mama should not be doing much more than sipping tea and sitting in the sunshine 🙂

  12. Emotional support and another set of hands has proven through research to show decreased depression and antidepressant prescription.

  13. Such great ideas and information. I also struggled with identifying postpartum in myself. Self Care is so important and these tips are so good for all Mamas to take better care of ourselves.

  14. Postpartum recovery is so often overlooked but it is so important! Thank you for sharing all of these tips. The peri bottle was a life saver for me!

  15. So much great information in here! Postpartum healing was rough after my first – hopefully some of these tips will help after my second!

  16. I wish I had these resources after I had my daughter. I think the herbal supplements would really help. I took herbs to get my body ready for pregnancy but after baby was born it was all about her.

    • It’s so easy to just focus on babe! I did the same for quite some time until realizing I wasn’t being my best as a mother because I hadn’t really recovered. Hoping this helps more Mamas!

  17. Thank you for this amazing resource. We so often focus on the external effects of postpartum that we forget to treat from the inside, which is much more effective.

  18. Thanks for sharing these tips. I have a three month old daughter, and a two year old son. I’ve been struggling with Postpartum blues. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s been raining so much, and I haven’t been out of the house a lot. And I probably have a vitamin deficiency. I’m going to try out those vitamins and herbal teas and see if it helps.

    • I really hope they help! A lack of sunshine definitely plays a role, even when we’re not in postpartum! Sending you all the healing energy mama!

  19. These are great tips! I had a pretty smooth recovery after my first but had a harder time after my 2nd. The Perry bottle and my belly band were lifesavers for me!

    • The peri bottle is definitely a must! It’s pretty impossible to wipe. I wore a belly band some, but kept getting so sweaty in it I kept taking it off lol

  20. This is great! Postpartum is SO hard! I love all of these natural ways to help aid in recovery. Sunshine is a great one!

    -Jennifer

  21. Yes Yes Yes! The most important part is to have enough support from people around and find some time to relax. Nothing more relaxing than a sip of herbal tea and a walk out in the sunshine. Its important to keep things simple and take things one step at a time. Great article!

  22. This is such a great guide. I am in agreeable with the sunshine because it’s so important to get out especially in the postpartum phase.

  23. Magnesium is so often overlooked and it’s essential for our wellbeing. This is a great guide to postpartum healing and recovery.

  24. Pingback: My Minimalist and Natural Baby Registry – GreenMamaLife

  25. Thank you for being real with the postpartum talk. I think too many moms want to be a super mom, be tough, and believe they’ve got everything under control. Some may, with the right support system, but usually so much more help is needed.

  26. I had a lot of success with the teas you mention here! I never tried nettle leaf, but the others were great. Sunshine was my other necessity each time I was postpartum too!

  27. Yes to the sunshine!! That isn’t just for postpartum, it’s for many other areas in a momma’s life! Great point at helping the baby get used to a schedule. 🙂

  28. I’m 5 weeks post partum now so this is great timing to read this!

  29. I wish I knew about all these tips when I was pregnant! That might have really sped up my postpartum recovery process!

  30. These are really great tips. I wish I had read them during my postpartum period, but nevertheless, this is a great reminder that I need to stock up on my vitamins – especially Magnesium & Zinc. Thank you!

  31. So glad you had such helpful resources to guide you after your little ones birth!

  32. The part about waking up drenched in sweat is so true! It happened to me after both children! It was so annoying because it would follow with chills and goosebumps. I wonder if that’s what menopause will be like lol!

  33. Pingback: The Natural mom’s postpartUm Healing and Recovery Essentials – GreenMamaLife

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