Mamas, meet Lauren Shields from Atlanta! Founder of Meraki Mama Collective, Birth Doula, Yoga and Pilates Instructor, and Mother of 3.
Lauren is passionate about working with individuals and couples in helping to empower women to trust their bodies and their instincts throughout pregnancy and into motherhood, serving as their advocate + holding space during this sacred transition.
Today she’s sharing some of her favorite tips for rest and recovery for the postpartum mama. Enjoy!
Daily Morning Routine
In the days and weeks following birth, your body will be going through huge changes hormonally and physically. You have lochia (postpartum discharge), breastmilk leaking on your clothes and bedding, and may even be sweating through each night. It doesn’t even matter if you’re getting right back in bed, or how long it takes you to complete your routine, a morning self care routine can separate the day from a long night, and help to feel more in your own body again.
Take a shower.
A shower each morning can be like the reset button. Not only washing off the mommy and baby goo, but also refreshing you, and giving you a moment alone with your body. When you have help in the house, ask someone else to watch the baby for you. If you’re alone at home, just bring the baby in the bathroom. I used to put baby in a vibrating lounger right outside the shower so she was close enough if she cried. The sound of the shower and the warmth of the steam actually lulled her to sleep, and I got a decent five minutes to just let the water wash over me, scrub my belly, and wash my face.
Moisturize, Moiturize, Moisturize!
I use coconut oil. Its natural and makes my skin feel so good after a shower. Give yourself a quick massage, especially focusing on your belly, thighs, hips, buttocks, and face. The oil hydrates the skin, and helps skin to heal and shrink back after birth. This coupled with drinking plenty of water and a body scrub a couple times a week will really help that belly skin shrink over the next couple months.
After shower and moisturizer, I love a full body splash of a Postpartum Mood lifting spray I made prior to birth. Spritz all over your face and chest. The floral and citrus oils will lift your mood, and the patchouli will ground you, and help balance hormones.
Essential oils: 1-2 drops each: jasmine, grapefruit, patchouli, orange, neroli, and ylang ylang
3.5 oz distilled water
3 tsp of witch hazel
Place all ingredients in a glass spray bottle and enjoy!
Put on fresh PJs. No need to pick out an outfit quite yet (don’t even try on your pre-baby clothes! Don’t do it!) Pick clothes that are easy to breastfeed in, and clothes that are comfortable both in and out of the bed.
Fill up your water bottle
I can’t stress enough how important hydration is to the postpartum mom. Get a giant bottle full of ice that you can keep bedside. You need extra hydration for breastfeeding, taking your vitamins, to allow your body to release any water its still retaining from pregnancy and childbirth.
Your body cannot produce adequate breastmilk, shed baby weight and sustain all that you are doing as a new mom if you don’t eat. If guests are coming over, ask them to bring you fruit, whole grain muffins, or easy go to, but healthy snacks. You want food that is nutrient dense. Ask your guests to help you prepare healthy and filling meals or bring a meal. Its easy to forget, or not make the time for food, but your body needs it.
Take a Bath
Yes, as if the shower wasn’t hard enough to coordinate! Take yourself a bath. Draw warm water, and then put some pretty things in the tub. Herbal sitz baths, bath bombs, or flowers in your tub will make the bath feel luxurious. Bring baby in the tub too. Its a great time for the two of you to bond, and babies LOVE the water. Again, just put a blanket or seat outside of the tub to rest baby in while you dry yourself off.
Breath work, or Pranayama, can be very soothing to the sympathetic nervous system (think calming that fight or flight response), and can actually allow the body to deeply relax. One practice is called 4-7-8. Just sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Inhale for a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of seven, exhale through rounded lips for a count of eight. Do it 4 times, and then check in with your body. Let your breath become normal and stable again. Focus on just your breath. If you have thoughts that arise, its ok, just acknowledge them, and focus back onto your breath. A great mantra during a postpartum meditation is “I am enough,” reminding you that everything you are doing for yourself, your baby, and your family is enough.
Its so incredibly important to rest after baby, but for some reason, this is the hardest self-care to give ourselves. Maybe you had an empowering birth experience, and you’re feeling like Superwoman. I’m so happy for you, but you still need to rest. The way I think about it is, sooner or later, the friends and family offering help will stop coming by, they will stop offering, and you will get back into the daily cycle of working hard and taking care of everyone else around you. Rest, you just had a baby, you created a little miracle of life. It’s no small feat! Whether you’re on the couch, in the bed, asleep, watching a movie or reading a magazine, REST! Its best to stay in this cocoon of downtime for the first two weeks so that your pelvic floor and core can heal from birth healthfully. You have the rest of your life to be Superwoman, now you rest, snuggled up to that sweet baby, just smelling each other and falling in love!
More about the Author:
On October 28th, Lauren is hosting The Post Session, which is a day of Self Care and Support for the Postpartum Mother. A day retreat for women, with their babies, to come to the circle; to share experience, understanding our challenges and honoring motherhood. Atlanta mamas, you won’t want to miss it!
-Postpartum Self Care Guide
-Mommy + Baby Yoga
-Gentle Pilates for Pelvic Floor Rehab
-Breast Health + Feeding Support
-Birth Story Healing
-Lunch, snacks, and tea provided