New moth­ers of­ten ne­glect to care for them­selves

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Ali­son Mitchell

You’ve just had a baby. Con­grat­u­la­tions on achiev­ing the amaz­ing feat of build­ing a tiny hu­man within your­self. You’ve just made it through 9 months of preg­nancy which for some women can be a tough slog, deal­ing with var­i­ous de­grees of un­pleas­ant­ness such as morn­ing sick­ness, fa­tigue, fluid re­ten­tion and back pain. And then you gave birth – whether it was a vagi­nal birth or a C-sec­tion, you were in­cred­i­bly brave and strong.

Dur­ing all this time, care and at­ten­tion has been di­rected at you. You quite likely tried very hard to eat well and took your vi­ta­mins reg­u­larly with the in­ten­tion of grow­ing a healthy baby. Per­haps if you were lucky you were pam­pered with foot rubs, back mas­sages and re­lax­ing baths to soothe your aches and pains. You may have even at­tended preg­nancy yoga or Pi­lates classes, aquaro­bics, or walked more reg­u­larly than you did be­fore you were preg­nant.

But now your baby has ar­rived and sud­denly there’s not as much time to look af­ter your­self, but it’s just as im­por­tant to look af­ter your­self now, as it was while you were preg­nant. In this two-part ar­ti­cle I will share with you some ways in which you can look af­ter your­self with­out sac­ri­fic­ing too much of your time.


1. Take an hour just for your­self each week

Re­cent re­search has found that new moth­ers who take at least one hour of time for them­selves each week sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce their chances of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing post­na­tal de­pres­sion. How you spend this time is up to you, but if you need ideas, per­haps you could con­sider get­ting a mas­sage, tak­ing a re­lax­ing bath, go­ing for a long walk, at­tend­ing a yoga class, go­ing shop­ping, see­ing a movie or sit­ting in the park read­ing a book.

2. Don’t stop talk­ing your vi­ta­mins

You need to be get­ting an abun­dance of nu­tri­ents just as much now as you did while you were preg­nant, this is es­pe­cially im­por­tant if you are breast­feed­ing. You lose a lot of min­er­als, in­clud­ing zinc and iron, while you are giv­ing birth so it’s im­por­tant to re­place them.

Zinc has a lot of roles in the body but most no­tably for new mums it helps to keep your hormones bal­anced. Good lev­els of zinc also help wound heal­ing and re­duce nipple dam­age from breast­feed­ing.

Iron lev­els can drop if you lose a lot of blood dur­ing birth and this min­eral is im­por­tant for en­ergy and im­mune health.

Mag­ne­sium and B vi­ta­mins are also very im­por­tant for new moth­ers as they help with en­ergy, mood and re­lax­ation.

It’s just as im­por­tant to look af­ter your­self now, as it was while you were preg­nant.

One hour each week for your­self, re­duces the chance of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing post­na­tal de­pres­sion.

Calm your mind by sim­ply fo­cus­ing on your breath­ing.

In the last two trimesters of preg­nancy and dur­ing breast­feed­ing, ba­bies re­quire a lot of cal­cium to help build their bones. If your diet is low in cal­cium, then cal­cium will be re­moved from your bones to sup­port the ba­bies’ bone devel­op­ment. Thus it is vi­tal that your cal­cium in­take is ad­e­quate. Cal­cium, along with mag­ne­sium is also im­por­tant for mus­cle and nerve health and low lev­els can con­trib­ute to ten­sion. While it’s pos­si­ble to get plenty of nu­tri­ents from food sources alone, new mums of­ten strug­gle to find the time to eat well and so it is rec­om­mended to take a sup­ple­ment as an in­surance against de­fi­ciency. Talk to your health­care prac­ti­tioner about which sup­ple­ments may be best for you.

3. Breathe to be calm

Med­i­ta­tion, men­tal still­ness, or mind­ful­ness comes in many forms, but my favourite way of calm­ing the mind is to sim­ply fo­cus on the breath. Sit in a quiet spot, breathe through your nose slowly and by con­cen­trat­ing on the ac­tion of breath­ing, other thoughts are swept away. This may be some­thing you can do dur­ing a nap time or at a time when you can have some­one who can watch your baby for a lit­tle while. I would sug­gest that you take 5-10 min­utes a day to do this by your­self, also while you are putting baby down to sleep. If you are feel­ing anx­ious or your mind is oc­cu­pied with other tasks that you need to do, it will drag the process out as baby will pick up on your state of mind.

In the sec­ond part of this ar­ti­cle I will share with you some fur­ther ways in which you can care for your­self af­ter hav­ing a baby.

Ali­son Mitchell is a Natur­opath based in Wind­sor and Bella Vista, NSW, Aus­tralia. She is pas­sion­ate about help­ing peo­ple re­claim their health and vi­tal­ity by blend­ing tra­di­tional heal­ing meth­ods with the lat­est re­search. She has an in­ter­est in women’s health and di­ges­tive is­sues. She is a foodie and she be­lieves that life is meant to be en­joyed and that good health is one of the best ways to do this. Con­nect with Ali­son on Face­book or on her web­site.

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