The key to a smoother postpartum recovery lies in how well you prepare for it before and during pregnancy. Postpartum can be bumpy and full of surprises. You may not be able to control the journey, but you can help yourself a bit by keeping these 5 tips in mind to make your recovery a bit easier.
1. Stay active during pregnancy so you can have a smoother postpartum recovery
If you have a risk-free pregnancy and the doctor has cleared you for exercise, go get your work out on.
What many people don’t tell you is that birth requires the strength and endurance needed to run a marathon, and that caring for a child not only requires all your patience and attention, but also ALL of the muscles and joints of your body. It is hard physical work! The better you prepare your body (and mind) for what’s to come, the less aches and pains you’ll deal with postpartum. I recommend yoga and mobility exercises together with some weight lifting.
2. Practice strengthening and relaxing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy and postpartum
Your pelvic floor is your support system in all things pregnancy and postpartum. It holds your core, your mid-section together, keeping your spine and posture in check. It’s such an amazing group of muscles, expanding to make room for baby and at the same time holding it in as it gets heavier and heavier. Then, once baby is out, it needs a bit of time to recover and get back into shape. You can help it with that process by practicing pelvic floor exercises.
In my FREE Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga Foundations Course I take you through 3 key exercises you can do to support your pelvic floor – whether you’re pregnant or had your baby years ago, these exercises teach your pelvic floor how to be strong and relax when needed. Doing these exercises regularly can help treat or prevent urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and enhance your sex life.
3. Learn to breathe with your diaphragm
Learning to take full, deep breaths using your diaphragm has so many benefits for you.
In pregnancy it helps you ease anxiety and breathe fuller, improving oxygen intake for you and baby, especially in the 3rd trimester as baby takes up more space, pushing up your organs towards your diaphragm and lungs. It’s also an amazing tool to help you during labor and birth. Why? Besides helping you stay grounded and focused and reduce the intensity of contractions, it supports the relaxation of your pelvic floor. The more you practice this breathing technique, the more control you’ll have over your pelvic floor during birth. In postpartum it supports your pelvic floor and core healing, tones your abs AND brings you back to center when you're feeling overwhelmed. These are just some of the benefits. The list goes on! The amazing thing about this is that you can practice deep breathing anytime, anywhere and not only support your body health, but also your mental well-being by regulating your nervous system.
4. Recruit help so you can truly rest
The first six to ten weeks postpartum will define in many ways how you approach your motherhood journey and how well you recover.
Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, the 24/7 work it requires to feed your baby is no joke. Then there’s the gazillion diapers you’ll change plus your own recovery from birth.
You’ve probably heard this many times before, and that’s because it’s really important and necessary – get and accept help as much as you can so you can rest.
My mom lives across the Atlantic and couldn’t join me after the birth like we had planned, so I very quickly ordered meals to be delivered to my doorstep, made sure we had cleaning help and prepared a list of to-do’s and resources for my husband to take full control of the household and making sure I was always well fed. I spent the first 8 weeks postpartum mostly in my bedroom cuddling with baby and took it extra slow.
I also had my husband gift me 5 postpartum massages delivered at home. He would take care of our son during that hour. It was the best gift ever!
If your budget is tight and paying for extra help isn’t possible, know that there are tons of community resources that you can benefit from. For instance, there is an amazing initiative called SuperMamas, a free volunteer network in Germany, Belgium and Czech Republic where mothers help out new moms in their city who just gave birth by providing freshly cooked meals and a little chat.
In my free pregnancy and postpartum yoga course I include a worksheet to prep for your 4th trimester where one of the key planning parts is exactly this – community and support.
Resting and making sure you’re needs are met is vital for your baby. If you are well, so is your baby. You two are connected.
Do on only things that you can comfortably handle, get as much sleep as possible, allow your body to recover – there is no rush to get back to your exercise routine (if anything, it can be dangerous to try to do too much, too soon). Be kind to yourself like you would to your best friend.
5. Eat nourishing meals
Having a tiny being to care for can throw us out of balance. You might forget you also have basic needs, such as eating. You may also not be able to go grocery shopping or even think about what to cook. This is why it’s so important to make sure someone takes care of that for you.
Eating nourishing meals that support your postpartum recovery is a whole other level. It’s medicine. Do your best to eat restorative, nutrient-dense foods to support your healing.
Calcium, iron, and omega 3s are key nutrients to include in your nutrition plan, together with protein rich foods. I found ayurveda inspired dishes to be the most nourishing for me. Check out this ayurvedic postpartum diet guide.
To further equip yourself for your best birth and postpartum experience, join my FREE prenatal and postpartum yoga foundations course. In just 5 easy actionable steps, you'll gain essential knowledge for this transformative period in your life using yoga.