It’s tough enough becoming a new mum – add in the extra layer of being isolated from the usual support network of parents and friends – and this can make things even more lonely and overwhelming. The silver lining is that you are probably getting more help from your husband or partner, as they as they will be at home with you too. However, despite this there are lots of burning questions they won’t be able to answer, as they are a novice to parenting too!
I used to run post-natal classes in Chelsea when my kids were tiny and worked alongside the NCT and private antenatal groups to give the new mamas and babas that little bit of extra post-birth support and reassurance that they needed. I still keep in touch with some of these families, which is truly wonderful, and that is what NatureDoc has evolved to be – holistic family nutrition and wellbeing support all the way through from bump to teens! This and the following articles are here to be your support network whilst you are navigating those early months.
So, you are out of hospital with your new-born – exhausted, sore and overwhelmed. What are my top tips to get you through the first few weeks?
Down below – after a vaginal birth to soothe the perineum, soak in a warm bath with a couple of drops of tea tree oil, which is naturally antiseptic and soothing. It makes such a difference! If you are in a lot of pain and discomfort down there, then try a soothing calendula vaginal compress – this helps to the relieve the discomfort of stitches, tears and haemorrhoids.
Constipation – Ooh La La! Going for a No.2 after birth can be more painful than childbirth itself – eat some prunes and flax seeds daily and drink some kefir or yoghurt to keep things soft – keep well hydrated. If it’s still really troublesome consider taking a natural stool softener made from papaya pulp or a magnesium-based colon conditioner.
Poor milk supply – try drinking herbal teas containing fennel, shatavari and turmeric like Pukka Motherkind Breastfeeding Tea, and remember to drink at least a pint of water with every feed. Add herbs and spices like fenugreek, dill, fennel seeds, caraway and aniseed to your meals as well as eat plenty of oats, oat milk, barley, meat and poultry, asparagus, beetroot, apricots and sesame seeds (tahini/houmous).
Sore cracked nipples – work with a breastfeeding counsellor to get the right position as this is critical to get right if you want to breastfeed in the longer term. It’s also important to get your baby checked for tongue-tie or lip-tie which is very common in babies and can be corrected easily. Also invest in a super duper organic nipple balm like Green People. If they are really sore spend time braless (a bonus of lockdown!) or wear a silk pyjama top which is pure bliss as silk is very healing on chaffed skin as there are natural anti-inflammatory properties in silk.
Breast engorgement – this is when your breasts are too full of milk and it can cause breast tenderness. Engorgement can also stretch the nipples flat, causing them to split and crack. One of the best ways to help reduce breast engorgement is to gently massage the breast using one or two fingers which can move some of the swelling away from the nipple with some essential oils like Geranium, Peppermint, Cypress and German Chamomile. You can also apply chilled green cabbage leaves to your breasts after breastfeeding or expressing, as this can help to reduce the pain and swelling. Applying warm flannels can also be a very soothing and relieve engorged breasts.
Exhaustion – this is when feeding for two really is a thing – aim to eat at least 5 x per day and snack on lots of nutrition-dense foods like avocado, nut butters, seed mixes and bowls of porridge, scrambled egg or dhal and rice. Take a really good post-natal breastfeeding multi like Wild Nutrition which contains iron, zinc and B12. Nap or rest when the baby is napping (no one will see the house in a state – another big bonus about lockdown). If you have a history of low iron or B12 levels, thyroid issues or blood sugar issues then do seek advice from your GP and ask for blood tests as it is critical to get these optimised during the post-natal stage.
Immunity – Remember to take your Vitamin D. The NHS advises you take vitamin D yourself and to make sure your baby gets enough of it during the winter. And during lockdown, this is even more important as you will be inside more than usual, so keep on taking up to 4,000iu per day.
Feeling lonely – call your parents or a friend or listen to a podcast or some soothing music.
Feeling overwhelmed – take a walk round the block for a few minutes leaving your baby with your partner. Sit outside in your garden and enjoy the fresh air and nature for a few minutes, it will do you the world of good.
I hope these are helpful tips – My NatureDoc team and I are here to support you if you are going through a tough time and need some extra help with your nutrition or wellbeing.