Oh baby. We know that the postpartum stage in a mother’s life can be a very sensitive topic. That said, we can’t wait to here your notes on all this incredible advice from a wellness maven we love. It’s intriguing to hear what’s worked and what hasn’t from moms who’ve been there. It seems that not just every mother, but every single birth is a unique experience unto itself. There are no hard and fast rules here.
The first few weeks after giving birth are all about adapting to a new routine, bonding with baby, and transitioning into motherhood. The more each mama can enjoy this precious season in vibrant health the better. Wellness and natural beauty pro, Shannon Vaughn of Pursoma, is sharing three weeks’ worth of incredible ideas she’s used to take care of herself along with her newest little one…
Eight days after delivering a healthy baby girl weighing over 8 pounds, I spoke at a wellness event. I dressed up, put on heels and spent the evening as though I was as fresh as the day I found out I was pregnant. No one could tell I had had a baby; my skin glowed, my belly was nearly flat and I was alert and clear thinking. I attribute all of this to going into the pregnancy healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout my pregnancy – this enabled me to be healthy postpartum. Once I was home from the hospital, I immediately started a regimen to heal. This is not to say that I was not exhausted; I had had no rest, was recovering with stitches, and was totally new to the world of babies and breastfeeding. I had no prior experience with babies and coming home after a very exhausting delivery was no picnic, but I knew that I had to rest and recover so that I would have energy to take care of my daughter.
I attribute my postpartum reboot plan to my quick rebound and I’m excited to share it here. Now, I know all moms are different and I can say that my labor was not easy and my body was taxed, but the added effort to get better was well worth it.
Two of the most common postpartum symptoms are the digestive system being stopped up and fluid retention in your lower limbs. To help with this, you need fluid and fiber to get things moving. You need rest, and then as things progress, you need nourishment and things to supplement what is lost as your body returns to pre-pregnancy hormone levels. I ate very light and healthy. Your body is recovering and you’re also laying around a lot so there is no need to eat heavy meals. I was breastfeeding, which in the early days are very light feedings, so eating a lot of watery foods and smoothies can help give you energy and hydrate you.
NOTE: I did all the shopping for the below items the week before my due date and had a grocery list ready at the house for when I came home for anyone who was helping so they could easily pick up the fresh produce I needed.
PostPartum Week One
I avoided swollen ankles during pregnancy but came home from hospital with tree-trunk legs. I had fluids pumped into me during labor for 10 hours to keep me hydrated and it all collected (along with the other fluids from pregnancy) at the bottom of my legs.
I sat with my legs up as much as possible and while in bed I propped them up above my waist.
Yarrow tea compresses
I applied cold compresses made of yarrow tea to my legs and ankles to help draw out and relieve swelling from fluid. Cold compresses help relieve the inflammation and stretching of the skin associated with edema.
Detox foot soak
Salt baths can help you get rid of water retention; they draw out excess fluids and toxins from your body. These relaxing baths also soothe sore muscles and calm your nerves. Because I couldn’t take a real bath, I did a detox foot bath. I used a Pursoma Minerals de Mer detox bath and just used half to make it into a detox foot soak. I did this once per day for 15 minutes.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that dandelion has a diuretic effect. This makes dandelion a great solution for removing excess water from your body. It is also loaded with potassium, which helps reduce sodium levels in the body. Steep one teaspoon of dandelion leaf and root tea in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink this tea up to three times a day.
I drank 3 liters of filtered or spring water every day.
Lemon juice helps flush out excess fluid and toxins from your body. Squeeze half of a lemon into a cup of warm water. Drink every morning on an empty stomach.
I started juicing right away and had a fresh organic green juice every day. See below for my recipe for my favorite green drink.
I drank a green smoothie in the afternoon, which is a great way to get your system moving because it’s loaded with fiber that you don’t get when you drink straight green juice.
I did acupuncture, this helped my stagnant system to move around.
Postpartum Week Two
My milk came in and it was uncomfortable for the first few days. I used frozen cabbage leaf compresses. A few sessions of applying and reapplying the frozen leaves works absolute wonders. These are the instructions I received from Barbara Cohen, IBCLC, LLLL, Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
1. Take a fresh head of green cabbage.
2. Peel off and discard wilted outer leaves.
3. Peel off and wash several good healthy leaves and dry them. Cut out the thick center bit.
4. Gently roll with a rolling pin or bottle of wine and place in the freezer.
5. Once very cold, place a leaf or two inside your bra over the hard, engorged area.
6. Once it wilts, place it back in the freezer and replace with frozen ones.
7. Recycle the leaves from freezer to bra as needed. Don’t use recycled leaves for more than 48 hours.
My appetite rebounded but I was too tired to cook. Everyone helping me was on baby duty and I did not want unhealthy take out, so my good friends at Sakara Life saved me. I ordered a week of food that came delivered to my door three times per week. It consisted of lots of fiber, which you need to get the system back to normal.
I drank a green smoothie in the afternoon and added chlorella, which is a great mineral rich supplement for recovery of the depleted system and great for breastfeeding.
I wore a Belly Bandit religiously and still do. It’s best to wear one starting the end of your first week home until the sixth week. If you had C-section, you should consult your doctor before use.
I alternated between shea butter and coconut cream on my belly and then put on the Belly Bandit. It’s helped me regain elasticity and soothed my dry skin.
Having new pajamas for feeding and laying around made me feel human again. You spend a lot of time at home and can start to look and feel run down. So buy a new pair of pajamas that are pretty, but also appropriate to receive visitors in, and ones you can also easily feed your child in if you’re breastfeeding.
Postpartum Week Three
I went on long walks.
I got a new pair of tennis shoes. This made me excited to start exercising again and, at this point, walking was all I was allowed to do.
I got on the scale. I don’t recommend doing this sooner than 3 weeks – by this time the fluid is gone, you have some energy, and you are mentally ready to start thinking of what you will do to get back in shape over the coming weeks.
I went out with the stroller; I walked a lot and got fresh air.
I went into a infrared sauna for 45 minutes with a 1.5 liter bottle of water and sweated out some serious toxins from the stress of labor and delivery.
I started dry brushing daily for 10 minutes before my shower. I’m currently using a Pursoma Detox Beauty Body Brush, which will be in stores this fall!
I left the baby at home with milk, put on a pretty dress and went on a date with my boyfriend to dinner at an outside café; I had half a glass of wine. It was awesome and I
felt human again.
Pursoma Green Drink
half a lemon
1/2-inch of fresh ginger
handful of kale
1 green or red apple
2 celery stalks (leaves removed)
1/2 medium cucumber
Process all 6 ingredients through a juicer.