Ooohhh postpartum recovery. This sneaky post-birth phase is often overlooked by pregnant mamas preparing for what’s ahead. After all, compared to going through labor and then keeping a small human alive, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that challenging. I wish it were that simple.
The honest truth is that the postpartum weeks are HARD. Often, new moms are caught off guard by the overall stress and pain that come with recovering from childbirth while learning how to mom.
Think about it: your body is healing from probably the most traumatic physical task it has ever completed, you are completely exhausted, and you usually get almost NO time to “bounce back” before diving into your new full-time job answering to a tiny, yet demanding baby around the clock. It’s A LOT to take on, physically, emotionally and mentally. And most times, not having a plan for recovery is a big part of the problem.
So, whether you’re already deep into the postpartum recovery process or approaching your final weeks of pregnancy and wisely planning ahead, these natural postpartum care tips will help. Here are 7 NATURAL ways to combat both postpartum pain and postpartum stress or anxiety as you settle into your new life with your baby.
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Ice and Heat
After having a baby our bodies kind of go haywire. There’s a lot going on, even after the most straightforward of deliveries. A really simple way to help ease pain caused by swelling, soreness, or even breast engorgement, is to try using a padded ice pack. The cooling sensation gives a lot of relief and it can reduce swelling significantly, leading to less pain.
Likewise, heat is an excellent and easy way to treat pain during postpartum recovery. Use a heating pad or warm compress to gently relieve pain and muscle soreness. My second baby’s “rapid descent” literally bruised my tailbone. OUCH. Using a heating pad brought me a lot of relief in those first days and it was really convenient to use during those long breastfeeding sessions.
I love these Hot and Cold Perineal Paks because they help with all of the above.
If you’re finding yourself especially tense, either from stress or from the physical difficulties of labor and childbirth, try a relaxing massage. This can do wonders for your body, your mind, and even your breastmilk supply! Loosening up and releasing some of those stressors is a good way to prevent pain and frustration from building up, then either imploding or exploding, which is good for no one.
Check to see if any local masseurs in your area do house calls during baby’s nap time. OR remind Hubby that this is one of these ways he can help during this super intense time for you. Order some natural massage oil and let him do the work. You’ve done enough.
This is one of my favorite go-to’s when something with my body is “off.” Oils are natural and often just as effective as many over-the-counter options for some of life’s surprises. If you’re finding yourself on-edge and in need of a mood booster during your the 4th trimester, try diffusing oils to relieve stress and lift your spirits.
Lavender is one of the best oils for calming and relaxing. I love to diffuse a couple drops during especially stressful times. It’s also one of the best oils for babies as they get a bit older, just be sure to use them safely and always apply with a carrier oil when using oils on little ones.
I also really love using orange oil, mostly because it smells AMAZING, but it is also known for improving moods and reducing stress levels. I find this really helpful when I feel like things around me are spinning out of control and there’s just not much I can do about it. Breathe deep and de-stress.
Another FANTASTIC way to use essential oils during postpartum recovery is to create your own natural peri-spray for after delivery. This will give you some pain relief as well as speed up your recovery “down there.” There are several different recipes for creating a healing spray, but my favorite is as follows:
DIY Natural Peri-Spray
In a 1 oz glass spray bottle, mix:
5-6 drops Lavender essential oil
5-6 drops Frankincense essential oil
5-6 drops Helichrysm essential oil
Then fill to the top with your favorite carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil) or filtered water. For additional pain relief and healing you can also add witch hazel and aloe vera to your mixture.
Okay, can I be honest with you?
After I had my second baby I was a hot mess. I was raising a 2-year-old and a newborn, not sleeping AT ALL, working from home part time, and quite frankly falling apart. I was completely on edge alllll of the time. I kept snapping at my toddler and BEGGING to God for my newborn to sleep, all through my exhausted, frustrated tears. It wasn’t pretty. I talked to my midwife about postpartum anxiety and depression, but her main recommendation was taking a prescription. I know this is a good option for some, but I just wasn’t ready to try that while breastfeeding, so I searched high and low for something natural that might help.
Around that time my all-time favorite company for natural baby products, Wink Naturals, came out with their Zen Drops. Y’all, these were my life-saver during those first months. It is made with passionflower extract, completely drug-free, and non-habit forming.
I took them as needed (and still do occasionally!) and they work right away. It just really helped remove some of that extra tension that had built up. I love how gentle these are and I try to mention them to any new mom who seems like they may need a bit of help. Don’t we all?
Baths are a really great, natural way to relieve both pain and stress during the postpartum phase. An extra warm soak can loosen up tight muscles and provide extra soothing below. I always just feel better physically after a long bath, and after birth we can use all the help we can get. I also genuinely believe there’s something to feeling “clean” during the postpartum days. Rinsing off the extra “ick” and baby spit up can make all the difference.
Pssst… I totally use my kid’s bubble bath because it’s THAT amazing.
Taking a long bath is also a really good way to be alone, which can do wonders for your mental health after having a baby. You haven’t been really alone in over 9 months…you deserve it. This is really great early on when going out isn’t realistic or possible with a healing body and a nursing newborn. Just be sure and have Hubby check in on you a couple of times. Mixing deep, relaxing water with a sleep-deprived new mom can be a little risky.
Speaking of baths, a tried and true postpartum relief method is taking a sitz bath. I had no idea what this was prior to baby-having, but trust me, it’s good stuff. Basically, you’re submerging your tender “area” in a gentle healing solution for about 20 minutes a few times a day. Doing this is known to speed up recovery, manage pain, and assist in healing or dissolving stitches from tearing.
There are a couple of ways to do this, but the easiest is to simply sit in a clean tub filled with just enough warm water to cover you from the waist down. Add either a pre-made, natural sitz bath soak solution OR make your own super easily with epsom salts and essential oils (that Lavender comes in handy again.) Enjoy a little you-time, soak, pat dry, then repeat as needed or whenever you need an excuse to have a quick break from your sweet, precious, loud, messy newborn.
I CANNOT stress enough the impact that sleep deprivation can make on a new mother’s mood and health, both physical and mental. Seriously. If your baby isn’t sleeping much (and therefore you aren’t either,) ASK FOR HELP.
Call a friend, relative, neighbor, church member, coworker, or anybody who wouldn’t mind snuggling your newborn for a couple of hours and take a nap. It is not selfish. It is not weak. You need to sleep. And you will be a better mama to that little one if you take care of yourself. When Daddy is home, he needs to be on duty. If needed, have him bring you baby to breastfeed while you’re napping. He can stand watch nearby until you are done to keep an eye on things.
If you are struggling to get at least some sleep here and there, your body will have a harder time healing after childbirth. Sleep deprivation can also impact your breastmilk supply and strongly affect your mood.
I have found that after about 2 months, our initial ability to bounce out of bed to feed baby in the middle of the night fades and it gets harder. Unfortunately, the baby doesn’t always get that memo. Even if you’re not “technically” in the postpartum weeks any longer, please keep this in mind and make rest a priority, especially if you find yourself struggling with anxiety or depression. Everything seems a little more manageable after some much-needed sleep.
Read my tips on getting more sleep as a new mom (even if your baby isn’t sleeping well).
Natural Tips for Postpartum Recovery
Ok, Mama, now you’re all set to make your postpartum experience as low-stress and minimally painful as possible. Use that extra energy to snuggle with your baby and allow yourself a little extra grace. It may not feel like it in the moment, but looking back you will totally see how much leeway new moms need and deserve. Hopefully these tips will give you the resources you need to enjoy those early moments more and stress way less.
This post was a guest post, written by Ashley Bass.
Ashley Bass is the founder and author of Oh Yellow, a blog dedicated to all things pregnancy, baby, and new mom. Between changing diapers and being silly with her two littles, Ashley dedicates her time to encouraging young mothers and moms-to-be. Check out her resources at oh-yellow.com or grab her FREE Daily Planner Printable for New Moms!