Self-care is more important than ever right now, especially for new moms. If you have just given birth, you need support — and not just from family and friends (though that is critical, too!). New moms need access to breastfeeding and lactation support; simple and powerful eating strategies for feeding themselves and baby; and clean and effective body care products. They also need the right micronutrients, which can be tricky to get from food alone during the high-demand period right after giving birth.
Here are my top recommendations for postpartum self-care, things I used and love:
My Favorite Natural Products
Chemicals found in everyday objects, like baby toys and baby products as well as in many health and body care products are a root cause of hormone dysfunction and estrogen dominance, two factors that can interfere with fertility, according to research. They also pose a threat to developing brains and bodies. If you are breastfeeding, these chemicals can end up in your breast milk — and what you use will end up on your baby as your baby is all over your body in the first year.
Opt for natural products that will support your hormones rather than harm them.
For breastfeeding Support:
Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. This product smells like chocolate, saves your nipples, and baby will think you're delicious!
Motherlove organic products. This line of herbal supplements offers excellent breastfeeding support.
Use at least for the first 12 weeks to establish your milk supply, but you can use them for your entire nursing experience. You’ll produce more milk and it makes easier feeding for baby.
Traditional Medicinals Mother's Milk Tea. This tea is delicious and safe for lactation.
Postpartum Skin Care Support:
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Hydrating Gel Mask. This mask is healing and moisturizing. The major estrogen drop in the postpartum period can cause major skin changes and dryness, including new issues like acne, eczema, hyperpigmentation, and rosacea.
Naturopathica Oat Cleansing Facial Polish. This polish is gentle enough to use everyday without drying your skin even further.
Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream. This product, along with the other two products from Naturopathica, saved my skin during the postpartum period. It kept my skin hydrated and fresh.
Belli Skincare Acne Control Spot Treatment. This product is effective at spot treating blemishes, and it’s safe for breastfeeding
RMS Beauty UnCover Up. This coconut oil-based foundation is amazing — and it’s safe in case the baby starts to eat your face 😉
Gentle Hormonal Support:
Traditional Medicinals Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Nettle Leaf Tea. Make one cup of tea and put one bag of each in the same cup. Drink frequently postpartum to help tonify your uterus.
The Republic of Tea Vanilla Dandelion Tea. Avoid caffeine, but get that same nutty coffee flavor and great-for-your-system postpartum boost. Helps flush fat and boost metabolism. This tea is safe for lactation.
Product Kits and Clothing Support:
Itsbodily.com has great products and resources to deal with body changes after pregnancy and giving birth. Look for products that support with vaginal c-section deliveries, breastfeeding, and more.
FridaMom.com has great postpartum care kits as well.
Hatchcollection.com has beautiful clothes to take you through pregnancy and postpartum. Their clothes make you feel glamorous in some of the most unglamorous mom moments 😉
Other recommendations for new moms
1 Keep taking your prenatal, your omega 3, and your probiotic daily. Remember it took a LOT of micronutrients to 3-D print that tiny human, and if you let that habit go, you can quickly become depleted and that can lead to thyroid and other hormone issues that can exacerbate postpartum mood issues.
2 Eat enough calories! If you are breastfeeding you need 300 to 500 extra calories per day, so make sure you prioritize nutrient-dense foods in those first 12 weeks postpartum. Check out Heng Ou's book The First Forty Days to give you a sense of what is optimal to eat those first 12 weeks. It’s really important to get this dialed in correctly to get your hormones balanced short-term and to support your health long-term.
3 Learn about how to properly care for your body. The desire to "get your body back after baby" leads to overexercise and damage. Instead think of those first 12 weeks as the time you need for Physical Therapy to recover your pelvic cavity, your hips, your sciatica. Doing this will pay enormous dividends. Read Kimberly Ann Johnson's book The Fourth Trimester, an essential resource for helping women navigate every physical changes that occur postpartum, with recommendations for care and recovery.
(If you haven’t given birth yet, I recommend reading these during your 3rd Trimester, so you know what to do as things come up when you no longer have time to read a book post partum.)
4 Tell your partner, family and friends about the word and the concept of matrescence. Matrescence is the phenomenon of massive structural changes in the maternal brain that will transform you permanently into the awesome mom version of yourself. It is more significant than the changes in the pubescent brain, for which we culturally provide a lot of understanding, yet because matrescence is not mainstream like pubescence is, we give new moms criticism for these changes, when we should be giving them support and allow for everyone to get to know their new mom selves. And for yourself, knowing that you will be a different version of yourself can help with the sense of identity crisis some moms report. I think it’s less an identity crisis and more a crisis in recognizing that there is no cultural conversation and normalization of what you are going through.
5 Sex. Definitely wait until you are rested and interested, then be prepared with lube as you will be vaginally dry due to hormonal shifts, which can result in pain and frustration for you. Sustain is a great lube if you need to use condoms; Coconu or AloeCadabra are great if you don't.
Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you. You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!