11 Ways to Naturally Heal After Childbirth (Your Tore Up Bod Will Thank You)

Tanvier Peart | Jun 16, 2016 Baby

newborn baby and mom

Giving birth is no walk in the park. There's blood, sweat, and likely, a lot of tears. Moms go through the fire so we can hold our precious bundles of joy. Too bad once labor is over, the hardest part has only begun ...

Postpartum recovery is no joke -- and something many people don't really discuss. In addition to focusing your energy on your baby, it's also so important new moms to think about ourselves, so we can properly heal. We talked to experts to find some easy, natural ways new mothers can recover after childbirth. 

 

Image via iStock.com/Zurijata

  • Take a Warm Bath (Your Vagina Will Thank You)

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    Ah, doesn't a relaxing bath sound heavenly? "Warm water is soothing to all the areas of tender and skin, including your vagina, that probably stretched more than you can imagine," says "Nurse Barb" Dehn, a women's health nurse practitioner and award-winning author. "Vaginal soreness is common as are hemorrhoids, both of which can be helped by warm baths. Taking time to soak in a warm tub can also give you some much needed time alone."


  • Ice, Ice, Baby

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    In the words of Marianne Ryan, board-certified specialist and author of Baby Bod: Turn Flab to Fab in 12 Weeks Flat!, "Ice is NICE." Ryan recommends postpartum mommies look to their freezers, as ice can work wonders on the pelvic floor.

    "You can fill up the surgical gloves in the hospital, wrap it with a wet cloth, and place it directly on the sore areas. This works much better than chemical ice packs," Ryan says. 

  • Go for a Walk

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    "You do need to start moving. Walking is an excellent way to stimulate the pelvic floor and core to start the healing process," notes Dr. Sarah Ellis Duvall, physical therapist and personal trainer. Dr. Duvall recommends new moms start small, with 10 minute walks. When your body feels up to it, try walking for 30 minutes.

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  • Focus on Your Breathing

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    Breathing and meditation have been known to help relieve labor pains, but did you know they also come in handy during recovery? "The baby pushes up on your diaphragm and out on your ribs shutting down your deep breathing system," Dr. Duvall points out. "Learning to breathe deeply again is the fastest way to heal an abdominal separation." 

  • Abdominal Band -- Not a Waist Trainer

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    Abdominal bands are known to provide relief to mothers recovering after childbirth.  Marianne Ryan, PT, is the clinical director of MRPT Physical Therapy in NYC and an expert in prenatal and postpartum physical therapy. She recommends using only abdominal bands made of light graduated compression materials. She also cautions new mothers to stay away from waist trainers and other items that might do bodily harm. "Tight abdominal binders cause too much compression in the belly and push the internal organs downwards, which places pressure in the lower abdominal wall and pelvic floor muscles," she warns. "This leads to making a diastasis recti ('mommy tummy') worse and can cause pelvic organ prolapse."

  • Water

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    As "no brainer" as this postpartum remedy sounds, drinking water and staying hydrated is something a new mom can easily forget. Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, a women's health and nutrition expert, advises mothers who've just given birth to drink at least half their body weight in ounces of water. 

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  • Magnesium

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    In addition to water, Dr. Dean (who is the author of The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Health), also notes the importance of mom increasing their mineral intake, particularly magnesium. "Magnesium is a key electrolyte which is depleted -- especially in summer heat -- and performs hundreds of functions in the body," she explains. Known as the "anti-stress mineral," magnesium will help you get deep restful sleep which is crucial for healing, she adds. "It will relax your muscles and make you feel energized in the morning." Of course, always check with your doctor about taking any supplements -- and what the right dosage for you might be!

  • Replenish With Nourishing Recipes

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    In her book, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, author Heng Ou relives her postpartum experience and highlights the importance of focusing on Mom's well-being. Recalling the first 40 days spent at home -- as part of a Chinese tradition known as zuo yuezi -- to bond with baby, Ou's book provides 60 natural recipes new mothers can enjoy that will help with recovery. A balanced diet, full of vitamins and minerals, is key.

  • Aromatherapy

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    Birgitta Lauren, a holistic maternity and infant health coach, encourages new mommies to consider using aromatherapy. "Essential oils can be very helpful in healthy after [childbirth], both physically and mentally," says Lauren. University Health News notes using essential oils postpartum can reduce anxiety  -- examples include sandalwood and jasmine. Essential oils can also help you sleep: try dropping a few drops of of lavendar or chamomile into your bath, or onto a cloth to tuck into your pillow.

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  • Acupuncture

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    "In general, acupuncture is a great tool to help heal post birth," says Kerry Jenni, a licensed acupuncturist. "It can help with pain, both physical and emotional. The Healthcare Medicine Institute also notes acupuncture can help alleviate postpartum depression.

  • Rest! (No, Seriously!)

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    Dr. Megan Davidson is a labor and postpartum doula who notices that many of her clients overlook one important aspect to their recovery: rest. "Getting as much rest as possible is the single best way to heal from and type of birth experience," notes Dr. Davidson. As hard as it can be with a newborn, try your best to get some shut eye -- even if it means napping when the baby naps, letting your partner do one of the night-time feedings, or taking your friends and neighbors up on their offers to help!

     

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