As women, we are offered all manner of support, love and care throughout pregnancy, but as soon as we give birth, the focus swiftly shifts to the baby. While our little bundle of joy is certainly worthy of all this attention, if we don’t also nurture the postpartum mum, this can leave her exhausted, sleep-deprived, and even physically or emotionally traumatised.
That’s why I launched Postpartum Plan – a holistic online programme for new parents offering a support team around you and helping you to nourish your physical and emotional needs. There are five key areas you need to focus on, and these are what we refer to at the Postpartum Plan as the five pillars of postpartum recovery:
Our emotional health hugely impacts our physical wellbeing, so if you can invest in your emotional health during the postpartum period, you’ll be amazed at how it affects your physical recovery.
I recommend daily breathwork – try the simple technique of breathing in for a count of four, holding your breath for four, breathing out for four, and holding for another four. Do this for five minutes every day for a week and notice the difference in your outlook, stress levels and sleep patterns.
New mums are told not to exercise until after their six-week check-up, but this doesn’t mean you can’t respect and nurture your body with gentle movement. Postpartum movement should not be about weight loss or the toxic notion of ‘bouncing back’ (which creates a stressful relationship with exercise and is counterproductive), but about healing the body and mind.
Try mindful movement with child’s pose – a gentle yoga stretch that’s great for relieving physical tension. Once in the pose, breathe in and feel your ribs expand outwards, then as you breathe out, reach your arms forward a little more so that your fingers move further away from you. You should feel a gentle stretch through your shoulders and your back.
When mothers give birth, they leave the hospital with their beautiful baby and little else! But as a new mum, you need information on how to support your body after an abdominal and vaginal birth.
My top tip would be that the next time you go to the loo, try to sit there for 20 seconds longer than usual. New mums don’t realise they often rush going to the toilet and don’t empty their bladder properly. Just taking this simple step will help your body relax and heal.
As mothers, we rarely get time to reflect, but reflecting about birth, or even just your day, can teach you about yourself, your baby, and lay the emotional foundations for parenthood.
Try writing how you are feeling today. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or neat; real emotions are neither of those things! Journaling is one of the best forms of free therapy out there and a great way to express your feelings safely and release them from your mind.
Food provides the fuel your body needs to recover, replenish and restore after birth, but it can sometimes be hard to find the right nutritional information. One great tip I can give you is to reach for dark chocolate and green tea when you have a sugar craving. Mixing the two helps to balance blood sugar and reduce the need for more sugar later on. Plus, dark chocolate can stimulate the release of endorphins, our feel-good hormones, which help with tiredness, and can even aid breastfeeding – endorphins get passed onto your baby through your milk, helping them relax.
To find out more, head over to www.postpartumplan.co.uk or @postpartumplan on socials, Wellbeing Sisters subscribers get 10% off with the code WELLBEING10.
I wish you all the best on your postpartum journey, and remember: one of the greatest acts of love you can give to your baby is investing in your own emotional and physical recovery,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meg Murray-Jones is a reflexologist and founder of Postpartum Plan – a holistic online programme that brings together a support team of experts that all new mothers should have access to: a women’s physio, a breathwork and yoga instructor, a nutritionist, a postpartum doula, and more. Postpartum Plan also includes videos, podcasts, recipes, and a toolbox sent to your door full of goodies to support your emotional and physical recovery.