By Nina, Modern Alternative Pregnancy editor
Having a baby is hard work. You frequently find yourself tired, out of breath and trying to get around with this big, gorgeous belly that throws off your balance.
And that’s just getting out of bed in the morning.
Labor brings with it its own demands – on your focus, your stamina, your energy levels. And, of course, on your perineum. The postpartum period isn’t just a time to bond with your baby (but, oh what an amazing experience that is!); it’s also a time to heal your bottom and begin adjusting to post-pregnancy life. After you have your baby, it’s super important to focus on self-care and your bottom has definitely earned some extra TLC.
I learned that some midwives who use rebozos in their practice will tie the rebozo around the new mama’s legs as a reminder to take it easy. She’s instructed to leave it on for the first few days and only take it off for bathroom breaks. This ensures she gets plenty of rest and also does not try to overdo activity, which could delay healing, especially if there were tears that needed stitches.
Not everyone needs such an obvious reminder to take it easy, but some of us do! (Which is why I encourage every pregnant mama to reach out to her community or even hire someone if she’s able to attend to her postpartum needs). Spend as much time as you can in the days after baby is born lying down and getting extra rest. You’ve earned it!
This is no time to ease up on good nutrition, especially foods that will boost your immune system and promote healing. Homemade bone broths are great to sip on or use to make soup (do this ahead of time or ask someone else to do this). Opt for fresh, whole foods like casseroles and meals full of veggies, good protein and healthy fats and keep snacks nearby like nuts, hardboiled eggs or the like. Here are some more tips on preparing postpartum meals ahead of time.
A sitz bath is simply a way to soak your perineum. Typically, this is done in a bathtub with water up to your hips. You can also buy sitz bath inserts for your toilet. To promote healing, I suggest adding healing herbsto your sitz bath (or a regular bath postpartum if water is comforting to you, as it is to me).
Using wound-healing, styptic and antibacterial herbs is a great way to reduce swelling and speed healing of vaginal soreness, episiotomies/tears and perineal bruising caused by childbirth. There are lots of herbs you could use to aid postpartum perineal healing, but these are my favorite:
- Lady’s Mantle – Soaking sores and wounds in a Lady’s Mantle infusion will provide relief for inflammation and speed healing time. Lady’s Mantle is an especially good herb to add to a post-partum sitz bath for those tender tissues.
- Comfrey – A phenomenal healing herb, comfrey is great for external use in ointments, infusions (strong tea) and poultices. (I use comfrey leaf for bath herbs).
- Calendula – This beautiful flower is a great healer. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great addition to ointments and bath teas.
- Witch Hazel – Witch hazel is mainly used externally on sores, bruises and swelling to speed healing and tighten skin.
- Yarrow flowers – Yarrow is a styptic, which means it helps to stop bleeding quickly.
- Marshmallow Root – Soothes, lubricates, softens and heals minor wounds.
In a jar, combine equal amounts of the previous herbs. You can do up a small batch using 1 -2 tbsp of each, a large batch with 1 cup of each, or somewhere in between.
Add approximately one cup of herbs to six quarts boiling water, strain and add to shallow bath. You can also use as a compress.