Healing from birth requires immense energy, both of which can be hard to come by in the early postpartum days. The two practices outlined in this article can help boost your energy (and recovery).
While so much of your focus is on your new baby after birth, it’s critical to remember that you have needs, too. Energy levels are crucial, especially when you are healing from childbirth and possibly feeding your baby from your body.
Practices essential to postpartum healing
1. Prioritize sleep and rest
Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and fight off diseases.
Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly, which can impair one’s abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories. Studies show that sleep deprivation is also one of the causes of mental health issues, including postpartum depression and anxiety.
New parents likely will not have a regular schedule when the baby is born. They can do their best to take naps and find time to rest for short periods throughout the day, such as when the baby sleeps or while under someone else’s care. (Trust us, the dishes and laundry can wait).
Additionally, new parents need to ask for help when they need it. Plan for periods when a friend, relative, or babysitter can help them with chores and child care so they can rest.
Breastfeeding moms may be able to collect and store breast milk so their partners can feed the baby while the lactating parent is sleeping.
Tips to improve postpartum sleep
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Avoiding screens at least one hour before bedtime
- Keeping your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool
- Using a sleep mask and earplugs
- Taking a warm bath before bed (if cleared by your doctor)
2. Focus on proper hydration
Water is a vital element, not only for life but also for optimum healing. Drinking enough water throughout the day is much like eating or sleeping; our bodies need it to survive and function properly.
As it turns out, water and hydration play a large role in wound healing and, eventually, scarring. When the skin is damaged, blood rushes oxygen and other necessary nutrients to the wound site.
If people don’t drink enough water during postpartum recovery, their blood will deliver less oxygen to the wound site. This dehydration leads to slower wound-healing and more significant scarring down the road.
Whether the new mother had a vaginal or cesarean birth, drinking sufficient water is crucial for healing from childbirth.
Also, breast milk is more than 80% water for lactating people. As such, a breastfeeding parent needs about 16 cups of water per day, which can come from food, beverages, and drinking water, to compensate for the extra water used to make milk.
One way to help get the fluids needed is to drink a large glass of water each time the baby is fed or every time you go to the bathroom.
Final thoughts on healing from birth
Healing from birth is a serious business and requires a lot of patience with yourself and your body. It’s essential to remember that it took nine months for you to grow a baby, so don’t expect to feel like yourself again in anything less than that time.
Take your postpartum one moment at a time, and ask for help when you need it (or, ideally, before you need it). Last but not least, remember what an important role postpartum nutrition can play in your road to recovery and energy levels.