The first few weeks after having a baby are so unique, precious… and pretty crazy!
Here are 10 little things that helped me survive the first weeks after this (and the other!) birth, a kind of “postnatal survival guide”.. more for fun than anything else, but a few good tips too!
In no particular order…
#1: « SIDE BOOB »
This literally saved my life!
« Side boob » is a loving term for side-lying breastfeeding that my partner and I affectionately adopted. It’s when you lay on your side to breastfeed baby. (I prop a pillow underneath my head and either a pillow or blanket behind my lower back to give some support.. I’m thinking this could work with bottle-feeding as well?)
Especially at night, this helps the wakes feel less, say, abrupt as you can still rest your body while you breastfeed.
And you may very well not need to burp baby either afterwards, as he feeds in still a sort of sleepy state, not as agitated and therefore less likely to gulp some air with his milk.
And during the day, when the going gets tough, if I have less energy, or again, simply need to rest my body for a moment – side boob to the rescue!
Don’t underestimate the power of cocoa! It has saved my day many a time. Must say I love chocolate with all of my heart and mind and body and soul.
What an incredible thing Earth came up with and that some very intelligent person thought of transforming into edible bars.
As we know, chocolate can help in doing the pick me up job that your brain might be having trouble doing, by sending endorphins (the feel good hormones) out into our system.
In postnatal days, this can be savior of course, or helpful to say the least, as emotions are riding a bit (or a lot!) of a roller coaster and the body is still recuperating after birth, all the while probably not getting much sleep. It’s also packed with iron, another useful thing for new mamas, generally speaking.
So I say indulge in cocoa! High percentage, organic (if you can), dark, dark chocolate.
I was a few weeks postnatal, in the « glued to the feeding station » phase, and chanced upon these fine comics.
Hilarious bits of real life for mamas-to-be and parents. Fantastic drawings and writing. Thank you Leah Rumack and Lauren Pirie!
And thank you comic relief!
#4: SMELL YOUR BABY’S HEAD
When in doubt, smell your baby’s head!
Seriously, dig your nose in there and take a good long whiff.
Not only could the inexplicably delicious smell make the world around you stop for a moment, but with its unbearable cuteness it somehow attunes us to the higher biological purpose of this all by appealing to our inner mama. 🙂
It also makes us take a good long breath. Which in its own is so beneficial to the body.
And if you take more than one breath there, nose stuffed into your baby’s head, it might even have the surprising and welcomed effect of calming baby down. Initially an urge, I actually now use this as a calming technique :D!!
*Warning : may create an addiction
*Another warning : may cause an onsurge of kissy-wisses
#5: UJJAYI-INSPIRED BREATHING
And speaking of good long breaths..
Ujjayi breath, or ocean breath is one of the breathing techniques that is used in yoga practice, but that can also be used in day-to-day life.
This is more like a very gentle version of this breath exercise, an Ujjayi inspired tool that I’ve come to use!
By ever so slightly constricting the back of your throat while keeping the lips shut, and breathing through the nostrils, the passage of the air on both the inhale and the exhale produce a sound, kind of like a whisper, a light snore, or what some refer to as the sound Darth Vader makes 🙂
This technique is meant to tone the nervous system, and warm you from the inside, all the while focusing your mind.
Sensation-wise, imagine you want to breathe warm air onto a window so as to create fog, but do so with your mouth closed, this really gives a good idea of how it feels.
A stabilizing effect, Ujjayi breathing will lengthen the breath and create a soothing wave-of-the-ocean-like sound, and can help to calm both mama, and baby!
I was able to soothe my newborn many times by bringing her close to me and Ujjayi breathing. The steady, rhythmic sound seemed to appease her (and me too!), like being next to the ocean.
*If you’re practicing in preparation for birth, you can also try exhaling through an open mouth, while making a “sss” or “shh” sound.
#6: ROSEHIP SEED OIL
I discovered rosehip seed oil in the first weeks after my second baby was born. Kind of on a whim, I was inclined to trying out this oil after having read about some of its virtues.
This oil is good for so many things! It can help attenuate stretch marks (the massaging motion along with the skin-healing properties of this oil help to bring some tone and elasticity back to the skin… and it’s a moment during which mama takes care of mama! 🙂 ). It can also be used as an eye make-up remover, facial cleanser/moisturizer, and it is what they call a « dry » oil, so is absorbed by the skin and won’t look too oily once applied.
I am presently the one by Skin Essence, (the same guys who do my miracle E-Cream, total fan! 😉 ) It’s cold pressed, unrefined, certified organic, and has a lovely texture (and a delicious roasted nuts aroma, yum!).
(I went to the extent of contacting the company with my enthusiasm, 🙂 and they are extending a 15% Discount for 10ThingsYogaMama readers. If you do decide to have a look into it, just use the promo code “YOGAMAMA” when you check out. )
#7: AIR OUT THE BOOBS
It’s a pretty simple one to understand, but as much as I can, I go, well,
I had problems with plugged milk ducts and soar nipples the first time around and had found that « airing out my boobs » was a great help.
So when the second time came around, this survival tactic was on the menu from the get go. Not the « chic-est » of all looks, but what can you do! I just decided to own it:)
This is on all my lists! Within a few days (some even say hours!) of birth, you can begin to do your Kegels again.
Here are some exercises that I’ve come to use, daily if I can.
I find that one of the best times to gently start doing Kegels again is when you’re feeding baby.
That said, once you start, you may find that you can do them pretty well anywhere!
#9: PUT YOUR HEAD UPSIDE DOWN!
When you can and when you’re ready, putting your head upside down, below your heart level (if it’s not contraindicated ie hypertension, and you may also want to be waiting until the 6 week mark to commence) can do immense good to the body and mind!
Very gently, as if easing into your yoga practice with lots of patience, find your way into Downward Dog, or Dolphin.
Let the limbs move, let the knees bend as much as they need to, making sure the hands and fingers (or forearms if you’re doing Dolphin) are pressing firmly into the ground, while feeling the lift up through the back all the way to the hips.
Stay a few, full breaths. Once a day if you can.
Blood to the brain stimulates the whole system and is a natural pick me up. In those first few postnatal weeks, if I have time for only one pose, this, or Child’s Pose are usually the ones I’ll go for.
#10: THE OBVIOUS BUT NOT SO EASY : REST.
Which if in a yoga mood, you could call a heartfelt Savasana.
Find the help necessary to give yourself actual time to rest or sleep.
Whether it be taking advantage of the moments when baby sleeps, or having a friend or family take your baby and other kids for an hour or two, out for a walk, while you let your body lay and rest, and maybe sleep.
Conscious rest can be powerful in itself, even if the sleep doesn’t come.
Stay with the sensations you feel, as well as the emotions you feel, if there are any, and let the breath be; curl up or open up, whichever gives you the feeling that you’re giving your body a chance to rest and renew.
*See how it feels to relax even your face, the forehead, the eyes, the cheeks, the mouth, and the jaw all the way to the neck and throat. It can be surprising how we keep this part of the body tense, and how good it feels to release it completely.
Ends up 3 more made it to the list!…:)
#11: DRINKING PLENTY OF WATER
I may add it to all the lists. Hee hee..
Drinking plenty of water. So basic and just so vital!
We somehow often forget to include it to the daily regime. But I find that just one day with more water shows in how I feel, more refreshed (even without much sleep) and more.. well, « alive ».
So I’ve figured out a way to make it a habit, I have my Brita filter by the kitchen sink (not even in the refrigerator) and every time I go to that part of the kitchen, I drink a glass and I refill the Brita, same glass out all day.
During both of my postnatal phases, I’ve found smoothies to be a fantastic go-to replenisher. Especially when it has felt like breastfeeding is taking some juice out of me.
The « pangs » of hunger kicked in a few weeks into postnatal with both of my experiences, and I know that not all women experience these pangs, but nonetheless, a delicious smoothie can help nourish the body so wonderfully during the day.
Here’s a base recipe that I use and from there, I add some extras if I wish to :
Base of the smoothie :
- 1 (or a half) Banana (more banana=more creamy)
- About 1/3 cup almond milk (quantities are approximate and adaptable)
- A palm full of sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Some berries (fresh or frozen)
- A spoonful of peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- Something green – a few leaves of kale, spinach.. I’ve even done bok choy, arugula and beet greens, all with success! (never tried broccoli though, don’t think i will 🙂 )
- Some water
From there, go crazy! Add in little delicious extras as you feel.. I sometimes go for :
- A spoonful of cocoa
- A hint of orange juice
- A spoonful or two of yogurt
- Some other seeds or nuts…
All delicious things that make your smoothie a treat.
Then put it all in the blender and mix for about 30 seconds.
Such a gentle and yummy way to feed the body and I always feel like I’m doing myself some good when I have one of these!
I recently discovered this Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie recipe, so so yummy! (and healthy!)
#13: KELLYMOM !
I Love You! 🙂 Countless times I have come back to your nurturing presence and help, with all of my heart, thank you! xoxo
Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→
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