The new post-birth plan

Tap into an an­cient wis­dom to help you feel re­laxed and re­ju­ve­nated af­ter you’ve had your baby

Mother & Baby (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Try th­ese treats to help you bond with your baby

Your due date’s around the cor­ner and it’s al­most time to meet your baby. And you’ve thought about ev­ery­thing – where you want to have your baby, who’s go­ing to be your birth part­ner, as well as a list of names you’ve fallen in love with. But we’re guess­ing you haven’t given much thought to your own re­cov­ery af­ter­wards. And not many mums-to-be do. Preg­nancy and birth is a body-, mind- and wholly life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, so it’s es­sen­tial to think about what will help you ad­just and thrive, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, in the mag­i­cal, over­whelm­ing first few weeks af­ter hav­ing your baby. Cre­at­ing your own post-birth, feel-good plan will help you pri­ori­tise what you need to do to help you rest phys­i­cally, re­ju­ve­nate your mind, and to con­cen­trate on build­ing an amaz­ing bond with your baby. AYURVEDA CALL­ING Cre­at­ing a post-birth plan is some­thing women who fol­low the an­cient In­dian prac­tice of Ayurveda have been do­ing for thou­sands of years to help them re­cover af­ter labour. If you’ve not heard of Ayurveda, then your preg­nancy is the per­fect time to start tap­ping into its wis­dom. It was cre­ated 5,000 years ago as a holis­tic way to im­prove phys­i­cal and emo­tional health, and it places huge em­pha­sis on the im­por­tance of car­ing for women be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter preg­nancy.

‘In Ayurveda, it’s be­lieved that a new mum should eat whole­some foods, have plenty of time for rest, and be nur­tured and cared for by her part­ner, fam­ily and friends – a prac­tice called “moth­er­ing the mother” – par­tic­u­larly in the first 42 days af­ter hav­ing a baby,’ ex­plains Ayurvedic con­sul­tant Seema Datta. Tra­di­tion­ally in In­dia, a new mum would spend th­ese 42 days af­ter birth at home, with fam­ily and friends tak­ing on the cook­ing, clean­ing and car­ing for other chil­dren. ‘She would be given nu­tri­tious, warm­ing food, herbal drinks and mas­sage to help re­store her strength, and would be en­cour­aged to de­vote her time to rest­ing and bond­ing with her baby,’ says Seema. Sound good? We think so! And while ded­i­cat­ing a full six weeks to your re­cov­ery might not al­ways be pos­si­ble, there are lots of ways you can in­cor­po­rate Ayurveda into those early weeks to reap the ben­e­fits. As well as giv­ing you time to build up your strength, fol­low­ing Ayurvedic prin­ci­ples can help you bond with your new baby, ease breast­feed­ing, im­prove your di­ges­tion, and sup­port your men­tal health and well­be­ing.

EAT WARM­ING FOODS

‘Ayurveda be­lieves that di­ges­tion is the root of all health and that, af­ter birth, new mums need food that is easy to di­gest, with spices to im­prove di­ges­tion,’ says Seema. ‘This can aid un­com­fort­able post-birth gas, con­sti­pa­tion and bloat­ing, as well as pro­vid­ing lots of nu­tri­tion and en­ergy to help pro­duce good qual­ity breast­milk. A post­na­tal diet should be a lit­tle like the foods you would choose to wean a baby on: You need to re­plen­ish your body with soft, warm, nu­tri­ent-rich foods that are

easy to di­gest, such as vegeta­bles, whole­grains and good fats.’ Tra­di­tion­ally in the first few days af­ter birth, new mums would have por­ridge and milk laced with warm­ing saf­fron and car­damom for break­fast, and veg­etable dhal or kedgeree made with lentils, rice and spices for lunch and din­ner. ‘But a day of

eat­ing soup or broth is just as ben­e­fi­cial, and far less time-con­sum­ing,’ says Seema. ‘Try a soup made from a non-fi­brous veg­etable such as but­ter­nut squash, en­riched with black pep­per and gin­ger to aid di­ges­tion.’

SIP WARM­ING DRINKS

‘As well as sup­port­ing di­ges­tion, herbs and spices are used in Ayurveda to help your body pro­duce good-qual­ity breast­milk, with fresh

saf­fron, fen­nel, and gin­ger added to broths and hot teas,’ says Seema. ‘Not only does this help you stay hy­drated, but sip­ping warm drinks through­out the day for the first six weeks is thought to cre­ate warmth in your body, which aids re­cov­ery and heal­ing.’

CRE­ATE A NEW MUM MANTRA

In Ayurveda, it’s just as im­por­tant to rest and quiet your mind af­ter you’ve had a baby, as it is to rest your body. But it’s eas­ier said than done. ‘Talk­ing about any wor­ries with your part­ner or a friend can help re­move them from your body,’ says Seema. ‘And mantras are a great way to help you think more pos­i­tively. If you have a spe­cific worry or doubt, cre­ate a mantra that re­sponds to that thought, such as “I am good enough”. Write it down on a few Post-it notes and place them around your home and, when­ever you see one, say it out loud or in your head.’

GIVE YOUR­SELF A MAS­SAGE

Warm oil mas­sages are prac­tised in Ayurveda and are be­lieved to help with reg­u­lat­ing body tem­per­a­ture, aid tis­sue re­build­ing and post-birth bleed­ing, and sup­port the re­moval of waste from the body af­ter birth. Mas­sage is also a re­lax­ing way to re­lieve tired and aching mus­cles and quiet your mind. ‘Tra­di­tion­ally a doula or Ayurvedic prac­ti­tioner would give a new mum reg­u­lar mas­sages in the weeks af­ter birth,’ says Seema. ‘But gen­tle self-mas­sage is just as ef­fec­tive, es­pe­cially fo­cus­ing on the pelvic and stom­ach area.’ To give it a try, add a cou­ple of drops of cold-pressed or­ganic

se­same oil to your fin­ger­tips then, start­ing at your right hip bone, gen­tly draw small cir­cles on your skin, across your stom­ach and pelvic area, un­til you reach your left hip bone.

GET WRAPPED UP

‘New mums are en­cour­aged to keep warm,

re­laxed and rested fol­low­ing birth, and wrap their bel­lies with a long piece of soft fab­ric, such as muslin, to help sup­port their lower back, help or­gans move back into place, and heal tummy mus­cles that have sep­a­rated in preg­nancy,’ says Seema. You can recre­ate the feel­ing by wear­ing soft, sup­port­ive clothes and trans­form­ing your bed­room into a peace­ful sanc­tu­ary, with soft cot­ton bed­ding, and cush­ions that will be gen­tle against your skin and keep your body tem­per­a­ture com­fort­able.

All this will help you to feel good, which will en­sure that you’re able to look af­ter your gor­geous lit­tle new­born, and en­joy th­ese mag­i­cal first few weeks.

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