Did you know that postnatal care is just as important as prenatal care when it comes to taking care of your baby? We talk a lot about prenatal care in the months leading up to delivery. What should we eat? What foods do we have to avoid? What vitamins should we take? We take great care to treat our bodies like temples. As we should! Growing a little human is hard work!
Then our baby arrives and our own physical needs take a back seat to those of our brand-new bundle of joy. A month ago, we were planning healthy meals full of all the essential nutrients for a baby’s growing brain. Now, we’re mindlessly chomping on a piece of dry toast in between the midnight and 2AM feedings.
As moms, it’s natural for us to push back our needs and focus on those of our baby’s. I think it’s written in our DNA code. Here’s the thing, though: if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your baby. So today we’re going to focus on you and your postnatal care.
Postnatal Care: How to Take Care of Yourself After Your Baby Arrives
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you an unrealistic list of things you should be doing as part of your postnatal care! While “sleep” definitely belongs on the list, let’s be honest, sleep deprivation and new motherhood pretty much go hand in hand. These are tips for taking care of yourself while also taking care of your baby. Ready? Let’s check them out!
Eat like a human being, not a bird!
Food isn’t just something we eat to fill a craving, it serves an incredibly important role in keeping us alive. Human beings need four things to survive: water, food, shelter and love. Stop living off the scraps from last night’s take-out or your other child’s lunches and start making yourself real meals. Preferably protein-packed meals, as protein is great for when you’re healing.
You don’t have to whip up 5-course gourmet meals every night to eat right. A nice salad with warm lentils or pre-cooked chicken slices, or a turkey burger topped with lettuce and tomato can help you get those vital nutrients into your body fast. When I’m swamped for time and need something real to eat, I mix up an omelet. It takes minutes to make and I can put just about anything into it. Of course, you could also take up your neighbor on her offer to make you a casserole. We moms have such a hard time accepting help from others. Now is the time to change that.
Supplement when necessary
We all know that the right food is the best way to get all of our nutrients, right? We also all know that even when we have the best intentions of eating right, we don’t quite make the daily recommended allowances for every vitamin and mineral. For incredibly picky people like me, Omega-3 is the hardest thing for me to get. I don’t eat about 95% of the foods that are richest in the fatty acid. Statistics show women in the U.S. only get 40% of the omega-3s they need daily. If I depended on diet alone, I probably wouldn’t even hit 40%!
Nordic Naturals makes a great supplement called Postnatal Omega-3. How great is it, you ask? So great that it is the Official Postnatal Omega-3 of the American Pregnancy Association! Omega-3 helps provide mood support for you during those months of new motherhood. Nordic Naturals’ Postnatal Omega-3 also helps maintain DHA levels in your breast milk to support your baby’s neurological development. See, so you’re doing something for you AND your baby at the same time! Plus it has a yummy lemon taste! I’ve used a lot of Nordic Naturals products before for my whole family (including my dogs!). I’ve come to trust them as my go-to source for supplements.
Remember that whole thing about food and water? Here is the second part of the equation: hydration. Fortunately, this is a lot easier than making a decent meal, you just have to remember to do it. The best way to stay hydrated, of course, is through good old-fashioned water. If you’re like me and can’t stomach the stuff plain, throw a slice of lemon in it. Even better, make fruit infused water! It’s so refreshing and you can add just about any fruit to it.
Staying hydrated helps you in more ways than one. There’s a reason water is so vital to our existence. Our organs need hydration to keep working. By downing the water in the recommended daily amount, you’ll also help stave off the dreaded postpartum constipation. Dehydration does wacky things to our bodies, too. It can make you feel even more tired than you really are, decrease your concentration and make your muscles ache. Fill up a bottle of water every time you feed your baby and keep it close. That way, you’ll remember to drink often.
Hit the Showers
The last two things on my list aren’t about nutrition, but they’re just as important. Have you ever seen cartoons depicting new moms? They’re always wearing their rattiest sweats, hair clumped around their face and a crazed look in their eyes. I swear, cartoonists confuse new moms with escaped exhibits come to life from the Paleolithic times rather than the amazing modern women we are!
Of course, they do have one thing right: it is hard to find time to indulge in our old preening rituals when we have an infant who needs our attention. Still, you need to shower. Seriously, not just for the good of everyone around you, but for yourself as well. Getting clean doesn’t just keep you from offending that helpful neighbor with your otherworldly aroma, it helps keep bacteria away from any stiches or incisions you may have. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how even a quick shower can help you feel rejuvenated and more like a functioning human being again.
Talk to other grown ups
This is an absolute integral part of your postnatal care. You MUST talk to other grown adults, and not just during the hours that your partner is home from work. As someone who uses her brain every day to make a living, the months where I only had my newborn and my dogs to talk to were a little, well, weird. I couldn’t write because I was too busy taking care of my son. My then-husband was away most of the time, and my mom, who lived upstairs, worked during the day.
I finally realized that I needed to talk to other human adults and started picking up the phone a lot more. Find a friend, another mom, a family member, or any other being over the age of 18 and use your big girl words. You’ll feel a lot better when you’re done.
These postnatal care tips are all things that you can actually do, no excuses. You absolutely need to take care of yourself too. Your baby needs you to be healthy and functioning. Of course, it should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that these tips are to be used along with your doctor’s recommendations for your postnatal care.
Visit NordicNaturals.com to learn more about those great Postnatal Omega-3 supplements that I told you about. They also have fantastic Prenatal DHA vitamins for during your pregnancy and Baby’s Vitamin D3 for when your little one is ready to start taking supplements.
If you could offer one piece of postnatal care advice to a new mom, what would it be? Share in the comments!
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Olfa Turki is a chartered accountant, a wife, and a mom. She loves cooking with the kids, biking, reading books and drinking lots of coffee! Olfa balances her family life with ownership and administration of websites such as OurFamilyWorld.com, MyTeenguide.com, and Dogvills.com.
This post is brought to you by Nordic Naturals. All opinions are our own.