For over nine months we are nurtured through prenatal care. Midwives quell our anxieties. Friends gift us with massages. Family members shower us with advice. And then our baby is born. Easy, right? Fast forward to month six with a child in your arms: You might feel alienated, scared, and possibly on the verge of either a major crisis—postpartum depression—or feel like you’ve lost yourrself. Lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, and too few ladies’ nights leave us stuck in survival mode. This is when Rebecca Egbert, founder of The Mother Love, typically receives the call from mothers looking for help. Here, the knowledgable Egbert shares her suggestions for helping postpartum women achieve a holistic balance.
Pay Attention to Lab Results
Remember how many times you peed into a cup or had blood drawn during prenatal care? Turns out, paying attention to those labs postpartum is also important. For example, your iron, Vitamin D, thyroid, or glucose levels can reveal why you might not be feeling well. Four to eight months postpartum is also when baby blues can turn into a more severe cases of depression and the identification of a thyroid function issue can be determined. If you’re feeling off, simply contact your care provider to have your labs drawn.
Physical Therapy for Pelvic Floor and Repairing Ab Muscles
For more enjoyable sex and preventing prolapse and incontinence, you can work with a women’s health physical therapist within the first four months of postpartum. The proper sequence of healing is: Restore diaphragmatic breathing, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and restore pelvic health.
Eating triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, the system in our bodies where all healing happens. Eating clean is an easy action for our bodies, and helps regulate stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Eliminating sugar is key. It helps build good-gut flora, which is necessary for digestion, but it also assists in weight loss. Also, keep that wine in check. Drinking more than one glass of wine (or alcohol) a day triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system responsible for triggering fight or flight, makes you feel anxious, and where our stress response happens. So, keep your drinks to one or two a week.
Meditation is the one standardized medicine Egbert “prescribes.” It can provide focus, productivity, resilience, creativity, and less brain fog. If you are not already familiar with a meditation practice, you can buy the yearly subscription to Headspace as a start.
You Are Still You
As we care for these little babes, a lot of us feel guilty about having passions and ambitions. Babies can change your life and in many ways, turn it completely upside down, but they don’t change what makes you you. Don’t be afraid to go after the things you want. By doing so, you’ll empower strong little humans that believe in wonder, imagination, and possibility. Check in with yourself often and play your intuition in your favor.
Find Your Peeps
Many times, motherhood can feel alienating. Find the women in your life that make you feel strong and invest in those relationships. By creating a band of strong mothers (and non-mothers) who are willing to foster vulnerability, you can create a system that breeds bright futures. If mom is healthy and baby is healthy, our communities and futures are healthy.