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The postpartum period is the time after the birth of the baby. It is an important part of your journey of becoming a mother and therefore some may even refer to it as the fourth trimester of pregnancy. The duration is typically 6 weeks but some may take upto 12 weeks to recover from delivery. For most of us in India, we have the a paid maternity leave and support of the extended family: two very important postpartum privileges. But there are other aspects of postpartum care that every woman must be aware of and practice.
Rest is a very important privilege that you must take after the stress of childbirth and the excitement of arrival of newborn. In most cultures, the woman and the newborn are put together in a small space, like a nest, where the woman can rest and get sleep while caring for her newborn. It gives time to bond with the baby, both physically and emotionally. Resting in the postpartum period helps in easier and early recovery. You must try to get sleep in small portions through the day while cocooned with the baby. At least 6-8 hours of sleep is needed for good physical and mental health.
A good wholesome diet is needed to provide nourishment for your body when recovering from childbirth. Eating right in the postpartum period not just makes you feel healthier and happier but also improves the immunity of the body. A good diet also enhances the quality of your breast milk by providing heathy fats and nutrients.
In our Indian tradition, a lot of attention has been given to our nutritious diet for the new mother. Mothers are fed on halwas/panjiri/ladoos which have spices (turmeric, ginger, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds) with their anti-inflammatory, digestive, healing and immunity boosting properties. They are also loaded with the goodness of nuts and edible gum (gondh). They help with milk production. Ajwain (carom seeds) water is helpful in resolving gas and indigestion. Postpartum diet should be rich in green vegetables and fresh fruits, and quick weight loss after pregnancy is not something you should chase in an unhealthy way.
The wisdom of tradition and Ayurveda is a privilege that one must make the most of for smooth recovery and postpartum care.
Learn how to make gond ke ladoo right here!
Massage helps in facilitating early recovery after childbirth. Full body massage has both physical and emotional benefits. It helps in pain relief of sore muscles and causes relaxation of the body. It reduces stress by releasing endorphins. A good massage also helps to balance the natural hormones – Dopamine and Serotonin, and prevents postpartum blues. Massage by skilled hands improves circulation of blood and lymphatics and therefore early resolution of swelling in pregnancy. It helps in easing fatigue and improves quality of sleep. Some studies support its role in enhancing breastmilk production by increasing Prolactin.
It is important to take good care of oneself in the postpartum period. There is sudden cessation of normal work schedule and it can affect your psychological well-being. Also, caring for a new life can be a very demanding schedule with no structure at all. Therefore, you must understand that it is normal for most mothers to feel challenged by these aspects. Hence, care of self is important, you must slow down and focus on the present and the baby.
Recovering from childbirth and caring for a newborn 24*7 can be overwhelming for most and devastating for some. It is very important to seek help when needed from your partner and family members. They can help with caring for baby after you have breastfed and support in the household work. Reach out to your caregiver in case of any of the warning signs like excessive pain, excessive bleeding, fever, headache, urinary or bowel issues or problems with breastfeeding. Most hospitals have the facilities to support you with lactation counsellors and psychologists.