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Postpartum Healing: Preparing for Your Fourth Trimester

Snuggle Bugz | | Comments 0

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As you get ready to welcome your little one into the world, there is so much to prepare for — it can be hard to know what to prioritize (psst…check out our Learning Centre for tons of planning tips).

With so much focus on the pregnancy and baby, one often overlooked aspect of the preparation process is making a postpartum plan to care for you, the person who just accomplished the amazing feat of giving birth!

In Season 2, Episode 5 of our 40 Weeks to Forever podcast, we chat with Dr. Courtney Clayson-Russell, a naturopathic doctor and a doula who specializes in nutrition, supplementation, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and physical therapy. In our conversation, Dr. Clayson-Russel talks about how to get ready for your fourth trimester.

The fourth trimester is a crucial time for recovery and growth as you transition into life as a parent both physically and mentally. Having a postpartum care plan in place can help ensure you have access to support when you need it, food ready for when you’re hungry, and are checking in with your body to help replenish lost nutrients and maintain your energy levels.

Get Your Team Together

Being pregnant and giving birth is a whirlwind of doctors and nurses checking in and giving advice. Once your baby arrives it can be easy to feel lost or unsure of how or where to get help when you need it.

It is important to reach out to a healthcare team beyond your OB in advance, just in case. This could include (but is not limited to) a pelvic floor physio, lactation consultant, RMT, or naturopath. Whether you need all of them or not, this team will be the people who will not only help your healing process but also support you as you navigate your journey to recovery.

Three things to look for when you’re setting up your team are:

  • Aligned values — remember you’ll want this person to have your back when you’re overwhelmed 
  • Someone you get along with well— this will be someone who knows your story, your journey, and what you want 
  • A genuine caring attitude — it’s important to feel comfortable with each member of your prospective team as there will likely be some topics you’ll find awkward or uncomfortable to talk about. 

It will ease a lot of stress and pressure down the road to have your team ready to go when you need them, rather than scrambling to find someone when you’re in a crunch for time or not feeling well.

Stock Up

Life with a newborn is demanding, to say the least. Between diaper changes, feeding time, and a million little milestones, it’s hard to find time to eat, let alone cook an actual meal.

As you make your postpartum plan, get into the habit of preparing a little something each week to help stock your freezer and fill your pantry before baby arrives. This can be as easy as making a double batch of a favourite freezer-friendly meal and stashing it away, or collecting recipes for easy one-handed snacks you’ll be able to make quickly once baby comes. Remember stocking up isn’t only about food — having an extra bottle of your fave shampoo or even an extra box of garbage bags on hand can take a little stress out of your life later on. Be sure to check out these 6 Must-Have Postpartum Recovery Items!

A few other things you can do in advance are:
  • Freezing a few batches of oat-based energy balls 
  • Stocking up on postpartum supplies like witch hazel 
  • Popping a few padsicles into the freezer 

When you’re thinking about what types of food or meals to prepare in advance, it's helpful to have bone broths and stews, quinoas, nuts, seeds, and energy balls on hand. These can help moderate your energy levels and replenish some of the nutrients you’ve given to your baby during the pregnancy.

For more tips on how to prepare, check out this article from our Learning Centre, as well as all our other expert advice.

Check-in With Yourself

The first few weeks (and months) of being a parent are a lot.

It’s easy to feel totally spent after a day (or night) of caring for your little one. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re staying healthy. While sleep deprivation is a real thing, feeling too tired or anxious all the time can be a sign of a medical issue. During pregnancy, your blood levels are closely monitored to ensure that you’re giving your baby what they need to grow, but once your little one arrives, the focus shifts away from you.

However, your body is still going through incredible changes, and it’s important to make sure you are recovering well and replenishing the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

A few things to keep an eye on postpartum include:
  • Iron levels
  • Thyroid function
  • Ferritin levels
  • Vitamins B12 and D levels 

Low iron correlates with decreased energy levels and hair loss, while a bad thyroid may cause postpartum anxiety and depression. Ferritin levels in pregnancy are usually low and carried forward in postpartum — the same is true of vitamins B12 and D. Proper nutrition is an important part of your recovery and blood work provides a valuable glimpse into your health to ensure you’re eating right.

Remember to practice self-care. Be sure to talk with your healthcare team about your physical and mental health, not just your baby’s. It is far too easy to put yourself on the back burner — feeling tired and overwhelmed postpartum has become normalized in conversations about being a new parent.

However, if you’re not feeling 100%, you won’t be able to give your baby 100%. You need to carve out time and energy for yourself to check in and make sure your body and mind are recovering well.

Why Make a Plan?

In parenthood, being ready is half the battle. The more you know about what could happen postpartum, the better you’ll be able to respond to things as they happen.

Try to seek out positive birthing experiences to lessen the fear and anxiety, especially if you're a first-time mom. Hearing other parents’ stories can help you decide exactly what to include in your plan.

With a well-designed postpartum plan, you’ll have the support team you need in place to help address issues if they arise, a well-stocked freezer for when you can’t cook (or just plain don’t want to), and you’ll be ready to check in with your own health so you can give your baby the love and attention they deserve.

For more information on what to expect postpartum, as well as all kinds of other helpful information about including a naturopathic approach to your birthing experience, be sure to check out Season 2, Episode 5 of our 40 Weeks to Forever podcast with Dr. Courtney Clayson-Russel.

You may also want to check out this article on loving your postpartum body!

*This information was taken from our 40 Weeks to Forever - Season 2, Episode 5: Optimizing Your Health During Pregnancy
Guest: Dr. Courtney Clayson-Russell