by Brittany Sharpe McCollum, CCE(BWI), CD(DONA)
In an ideal world. the fleeting days of new parenthood are spent cocooned in a warm family bed
with meals being prepared and all the family’s basic needs being met. However, the reality is
that enjoying the early moments of new parenthood can be a challenge. In a society where
family and friends are often working or living far away, being a new parent can feel isolating and
overwhelming. Some simple tips for reclaiming the traditional postpartum period as a time for
bonding and nourishment may help to ease the transition into the new family dynamic and
encourage a healthier place for both the mind and the body in this phase of the childbearing
Prepare for the postpartum while still pregnant
. Anticipate your needs by talking with friends
and family members about what helped them most in their postpartum. Prepare foods that can
be frozen for quick meals and ask a close friend to organize a meal train and/or postpartum help
from those close to you.
. Let your partner, family, and friends know clearly what your needs are and how
they can meet them. Request the help before it reaches a point where feelings of frustration
have taken over.
Make a daily list for family and friends
. People love to stop by to see the new baby and often
want to lend a hand while they are visiting. Having a list of chores posted on the door that
friends and family can easily see - throw in some laundry, empty the dishwasher, pick up some
veggies at the farmers market - makes it easy to accept the help that people offer.
Make a list for yourself
. As you think of tasks that you need to complete such as answering
emails or returning phone calls, write them down. Set a goal of completing one of these tasks
per day. Checking them off will offer satisfaction while the list will keep your thoughts organized
Let go of expectations.
Recognizing that the main goal of the postpartum period is to heal the
body and bond with the baby helps a new parent let go of the constant to-do list that is often in
the back of the mind. Give yourself permission throughout the day to just rest and nestle in with
Eat real food and stay hydrated
. Nourishing food is the backbone of a healthy postpartum.
Encourage friends and family to bring over favorite dishes. Write down a few foods that you can
make and eat with one hand (smoothies are great for packing in lots of nutrients all in one
place). Eat the colors of the rainbow and focus on foods that can either be grown, hunted, or
fished (as in, stay away from foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce and unidentifiable
contents). Make sure you are taking in about half your body weight in ounces of fluid per day to
keep your body from retaining excess water (yes, you read that right!) and to help balance
electrolytes and hormones.
Set aside 20 minutes per day for yourself.
Take time each day where the baby is well cared
for by someone else (a partner, a friend, a trusted neighbor) and grab a shower or bath, a quick
nap, or do some gentle stretching.
Take time with a partner or close friend.
Spend time doing things that connect you to the
person you were before your little one arrived. Watch a movie, cook a meal together, play a
Sleep when your baby sleeps.
It’s a cliche but a true one for sure. Babies sleep for roughly
16 hours per day but the sleep is inconsistent and often while eating. Allow yourself to rest with
your baby for at least a half hour every day and take a longer nap at least three times per week.
Even just a short time with your eyes closed and your body relaxed can leave you feeling
rejuvenated and energized.
Move your body.
Get outside with your baby for a walk around the block. Dance in the house
with your baby in a wrap or a carrier. Breathe deeply and stretch your muscles.
Take care of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of yourself and let others care for you
too. Your body and your baby will thank you.
Jequier E. and Constant F. “Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration.”!
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;64(2):115-23. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.111. Epub 2009 Sep 2. 18 Feb
Margaret R., John L. Cox, Stella Neema, Paul Asten, Nine Glangeaud-Freudenthal, Barbara
Figueiredo, Laura L. Gorman, Sue Hacking, Emma Hirst, Martin H. Kammerer, Claudia M. Klier,
Gertrude Seneviratne, Mary Smith, Anne-Laure Sutter-Dallay, Vania Valoriani, Birgitta Wickberg,
Keiko Yoshida. “Postnatal depression across countries and cultures: a qualitative study.”
The British Journal of Psychiatry Jan 2004, 184 (46) s10-s16; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.184.46.s10. 18
Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D’Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. “Water, Hydration, and Health.”
Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug; 68(8): 439-458: doi: 10.1111/j.175304887.2010.00304.x
Kitzinger, Sheila. Rediscovering Birth. UK: Little, Brown and Company, 2000. Print.