TLDR: Many new moms aren’t prepared for the postpartum period. To help you feel less overwhelmed during this time, we’ve asked a birth worker to share her advice for creating the best environments in your mind, body, and home during the fourth trimester.
Over the years, as I’ve become more deeply rooted in the birth worker space, one of the things I hear often from new mothers is that they weren’t told how raw and emotional the immediate postpartum period is. They shared with me how they were showered with beautiful celebrations before the baby came and encouraged to attend informative classes on breastfeeding, childbirth, and newborn care.
Those are all wonderful, but they generally focus on the baby’s well-being and don’t address the fact that a new mom has needs as well. They explained to me that they wished there was someplace or someone who could have shared with them how to mentally process the transition to becoming a mother, carefully heal their post-birth body, and mindfully create a safe space in their home before they welcomed their baby.
Each time I step into the home of a new mother I’m reminded just how rocky the early days of motherhood can be. This is when moms begin to whisper to me about their first signs of self-doubt and share that they’re struggling with feeding their baby and/or fighting feelings of loneliness and isolation, even though they may have a revolving door of visitors. I remind them that this is very common and that they aren’t alone. Not only am I there to support them, but we will begin to build a community around them that will make their motherhood transition one that rests in confidence and security.
As I begin to offer suggestions and a wellness plan, there are three key areas that I always speak to. They are:
The Mind focuses on addressing internal struggles.
The Body focuses on incorporating gentle healing practices that allow my clients to eventually return to doing the things they loved before birth.
Abode, which focuses on making the home a place of refuge and comfort.
As a pregnancy mentor and lactation coach1 , I’ve spent the last few years sitting at the bedsides of women who’ve just given birth. During this time I’ve discovered unique ways in which to nurture postpartum women that help incorporate a sense of calm in these three areas. I’ve shared them below.
How to Nurture the Mind Postpartum
Support: Invite a trusted friend, family member, or doula sometime during the first weeks after birth to reflect on the birth experience. Share your disappointments, the highs, and any other thoughts that you may be holding in.
Journal: Keep a journal of emotions and thoughts beginning soon after returning home from the hospital or birth center. Write down feelings ranging from anxiety, rage, and fatigue to joy, excitement, and euphoria. Sharing these notes with a healthcare provider, partner, or licensed therapist can be extremely helpful, as can naming what you’re feeling.
Meditation: Incorporate a meditation practice, even if it’s for only 5 minutes while you’re showering, in the bathroom, or during a nursing session. This quiet time can allow you to release judgments and give you back a moment of stillness during a time that can seem overwhelmingly chaotic.
How to Nurture the Body Postpartum
Care: Prep in advance if you can for your postpartum care. If you can afford it, hire a postpartum doula or cleaning service (you can also add these to your baby registry as something your friends and family can gift you). These things can all help to ensure your physical needs are met while also allowing for ample rest. If you have visitors during the postpartum period, ask them if they can bring food, do the dishes, or hold the baby while you take a long shower or another activity that makes you feel more you. Remember: they aren’t there to “visit” the baby or ask prying questions about birth. Their role is to mother the mother.
Nourishment: Request a meal train at the baby shower. This hopefully means that anyone who comes to visit postpartum is bearing useful (read: tasty) gifts.
Remedies: Embrace the use of teas and gentle self-care tools like witch hazel pads, soothing bottom sprays, nipple balms, uterine support wraps, and cooling or warming breast compresses. These all gently allow your body to heal slowly without force.
How to Create a Postpartum Abode
Set Up a Nursing Nook: Create a special space for convenient nursing—it can really help if you choose to breastfeed. Pre-stage it with snacks, a water bottle, a nursing pillow, a footrest, a phone charger, a laptop, and anything else that will help pass the time as mom and baby get the hang of nursing. For more tips, check out this list of nursing station essentials.
Create Boundaries: Set up a strict time frame where visitors are permitted to drop by (with permission, that is). The goal of this is to allow unlimited time for mom, baby, and partner (if there’s one) to bond. Unexpected interruptions and uninvited guests who overstay their welcome can make you feel like you must be dressed and presentable, entertaining people, or that you need to refrain from breastfeeding until they leave. A simple message on either the mom's or partner’s social media account can help. Here’s some suggested wording: “As mom and baby bond and navigate this early postpartum period, we’re asking friends and family to support us by visiting only during the hours of 1 p.m.-3 p.m.” You also can designate a trusted friend or family member to communicate this message as well.
A Soothing Environment: Arrange your home with tranquil elements. A sweet friend who’s planning to stop by can grab a few seasonal stems from the farmer’s market and arrange them in a vase near the nursing nook. Playing songs from your favorite playlist throughout the day can lift your spirits. And finally, an aromatherapy diffuser with lavender or citrus essential oils will also help to emit serenity throughout the space.
I trust that as you read through these mind, body, and abode tips there will be ones that naturally call out to you and resonate with how you’d like your postpartum experience to be. The most important thing of all, though, is for you to listen to your “mother's wisdom.” This is the small voice that speaks within you and directs you on your path. It takes time to hone, but it will give you confidence and peace in your motherhood journey.