Essential Wellness Strategies for New Mothers

A young black mom is holding her newborn baby outside on a couch in the backyard. 

Welcoming your baby into the world marks the beginning of a deeply personal journey, one that invites you to nurture your newborn.

The time after your baby is born is often referred to as the "fourth trimester."

That's because your body and mind have just undergone a profound transformation. And you are still changing; you're going through physical changes, emotional adjustments, and hormonal fluctuations. You will also likely get much less sleep because of your baby's feeding schedule, which affects your emotions and hormones.

Postpartum is the period following the birth of a baby, typically lasting around six weeks, during which the mother's body undergoes various physical and hormonal changes to recover from childbirth.

This time is also crucial for emotional adjustments as parents adapt to their new roles and responsibilities, navigating the joys and challenges of caring for a newborn. It's a time for healing, learning, and growing together as a family.

Physical Recovery: Nurturing Your Body

After having a baby, your body needs gentle care and attention to fully recover from pregnancy and childbirth.

After giving birth, your body requires recognition and recovery. This includes paying attention to the shrinking of the uterus, which may cause cramping, and the healing of any tears or incisions.

Vaginal birth, or vaginal delivery, can stretch and tear the tissues, causing soreness, pain, and discomfort after giving birth. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Physical activity after recovering from giving birth can help heal and regain strength.
  • Remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Stool softeners are commonly prescribed to postpartum women. This helps to alleviate constipation and promote smoother bowel movements during recovery.
  • After childbirth, women are at an increased risk of developing blood clots, making postpartum monitoring for signs of deep vein clots essential for early detection.

Emotional Well-Being: Honoring Your Mental Health

The early postpartum period is also a time of profound emotional adjustment. Hormonal imbalances, lack of sleep, and taking care of a baby can affect your mood and mental health.

Prioritize self-compassion and seek support when needed to prevent postpartum mood disorders.

Taking care of your emotional health is important for your well-being and ability to care for your baby. Here are some ways you can support your mental health:

  • Connect with loved ones and family members
  • Join a postpartum support group
  • Seek professional help
  • Take time for mindfulness

Nutrition and Hydration: Fueling Your Body and Mind

Fueling your body with nourishing foods and staying hydrated are cornerstones of postpartum health and wellness.

Eating a variety of nutritious foods helps with healing and gives you energy for breastfeeding, taking care of yourself and your baby.

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients supports postpartum recovery and supporting overall health and well-being. Here are some good foods to include in a postpartum diet:

  • Protein-rich foods: Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products. These are essential for tissue repair, muscle recovery, and childbirth.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet. These help provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to support healing.
  • Whole grains: Opt for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta. These provide complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber for digestive health.

Rest and Recovery: Sleep

Amidst the whirlwind of new parenthood, it’s important to carve out time for rest and recovery.

Pay attention to your body, make sleep a priority, and ask loved ones for help so you can take breaks.

Lack of sleep is common after having a baby, but it’s important to get enough rest for your health.

Rest when your baby sleeps and ask for help from your partner, family, or friends to lighten your workload.

  • Establish a sleep routine: Create a consistent bedtime routine that signals to your body that it’s time to wind down for sleep.
  • Share nighttime duties: Get the help of your partner or other support persons to share nighttime feeding and care duties.
  • Organize the sleep environment: Create a comfortable sleep environment that promotes relaxation and restful sleep for both you and your baby. Keep the room, dark, and quiet.

Communicate with Your Health Care Provider

Continue talking to your doctor about any physical or emotional concerns you have after giving birth.

If you have pain, mood changes, or trouble breastfeeding, don’t wait to ask for help. Getting help early can solve these problems effectively.

Health care providers closely monitor postpartum women for any potential risk factors or health problems that may increase their risk of complications during the recovery period.

Postpartum care provided by obstetricians, gynecologists, or primary care providers is crucial for supporting the health and well-being of new mothers during the early weeks after childbirth. Here are some tips:

  • Be honest and open: Be honest about your symptoms, experiences, and feelings.
  • Prepare questions in advance: Before your appointment, take some time to write down any questions or concerns you have about postpartum recovery.
  • Ask for clarification: If you don’t understand something your health care provider says or if you have questions about a diagnosis, treatment plan, or medication, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Engage in Light Exercises

Listen to your body and do low-impact exercises to help your recovery and improve your mood after giving birth.

Consider these activities designed to support your body’s healing process:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Core exercises
  • Low-impact cardio
  • Strength training

Seek Professional Support if Needed

If you consistently feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, get help from a mental health professional.

Common post-birth mood disorders require treatment. Seeking help for your and your family’s well-being is important.

Common postpartum conditions include:

  • Postpartum depression (PPD): A mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue that persist for weeks or months after childbirth.
  • Postpartum anxiety: Excessive worry, fear, or nervousness that can interfere with daily functioning and often occurs alongside postpartum depression.
  • Postpartum psychosis: A rare but severe mental illness characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and extreme mood swings. It requires immediate medical attention.
  • Postpartum blues: Also known as “baby blues,” this is a milder and more common condition characterized by mood swings, irritability, and tearfulness, typically resolving within a few weeks after childbirth.

If you are experiencing a post-birth mood disorder, seek help and support.

Reach out to a health care provider: Schedule an appointment with a health care professional, such as an obstetrician, midwife, or mental health provider, who can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.

Adjusting to Parenthood

Postpartum health is a vital aspect of maternal well-being that requires attention and support.

The postpartum period is a time of significant physical, emotional, and social changes for new mothers, and prioritizing your health during this time is crucial for your recovery and adjustment to parenthood.

A birthing or parenting class can help with postpartum preparation and support. The primary focus of birthing classes is typically on preparing expectant parents for labor and delivery.

Many classes also cover important topics related to postpartum care and recovery: Here’s how birthing classes can assist with postpartum.

Need help? We have classes.

Find Support

Continue Reading

Building your postpartum support network

Building bonds: Navigating parenthood together with your support network

Discover the power of community in parenthood! Explore invaluable tips and resources for building a strong support network and connecting with other new parents.

Navigating Postpartum with Confidence

Discover essential resources tailored to support new parents through the postpartum period and ease the transition into life with a newborn.

Nurturing Your Newborn’s Sleep and Feeding Habits

Discover the essential guide to mastering newborn care, feeding, and sleep for a blissful baby. Uncover expert tips and strategies to establish healthy routines, ensuring your little one’s happiness and your peace of mind.