My friends, I’ve only ever been postpartum one time, and I’m only about nine weeks into my postpartum recovery — with a long way to go — but I’ve already been compiling some things that I wanted to share with you. And there’s a giveaway for some awesome Vital Proteins collagen in here too, so don’t miss that. (By the way, according to most professionals, it takes about a full year to “get back to normal” after childbirth, so postpartum is not a short time-frame.)
I have to preface this by saying that this is what I’ve been doing just for me. Before you choose to do anything, you should check with your doctor and do what’s right for you. This is not a prescription for success, it’s just my thoughts, so you can take it or leave it! But I feel pretty good, so I know it’s working for me.
My healthy postpartum recovery essentials
Supplementing with collagen
While pregnancy often brings luscious hair, long nails and glowing skin, after delivery, the immediate drop and change in your hormones often means that us new mommas are left looking … well … not so good, because that wonderful “growth phase” of pregnancy is over. All of a sudden, your skin gets dry or even breaks out, your hair gets brittle and sometimes falls out (I haven’t experienced this yet), and if you had stretch marks during pregnancy (OMG — thank goodness, I didn’t get these!), they can appear ever present, meaning your entire body can look a little mangled. Add that onto recovering from delivery, and you’re not feeling so hot.
Enter collagen. I used to supplement with collagen before getting pregnant, and it absolutely improved the thickness of my hair, which as you can see in pictures, is pretty darn thick. Then, I cycled off of collagen during pregnancy and knew that I would get right back on it after delivering Brady. Why? Collagen is the most prevalent protein in our bodies and helps bolster our joints and enhances skin and bones, and high-quality collagen supplements can support all of that.
I happen to think that as long as your doctor approves, collagen is a great choice for postpartum women, to help support your skin, hair and even improve your gut health and joint health too. I’ve been adding a scoop of Vital Proteins collagen to my morning tea every morning, and so far, my skin hasn’t been too terrible.
Vital Proteins is my collagen brand of choice, because they use the best of the best, and have a great line-up of products. I love the collagen peptides, unflavored and vanilla for my morning tea, as well as the new coconut milk-based creamer too. So good! See below for a giveaway prize package of all the collagen goodness.
Getting my placenta encapsulated and taking the pills
Okay, don’t click away from this post yet (I mean, you still have to enter the giveaway), but I got my placenta encapsulated into pills after delivery and then took the pills daily for six weeks postpartum. As you all know, I used a doula to prepare for labor and delivery and to attend my labor and delivery. My doula was also the one who did my placenta encapsulation service.
Basically, the placenta (which is the organ where the baby grows and lives inside you), is delivered shortly after the baby comes out. Then, the placenta can either be given to the hospital to use for testing or to dispose of, or you can sign some papers and save your placenta. I elected to save mine, and because my doula was in attendance at my birth, she handled getting it into the refrigerated bag and taking it with her to process outside of the hospital at her home and we didn’t have to worry about any of that.
I chose the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of processing the placenta, which means the placenta was dried out and steamed and put into capsules. And the day after we got home from the hospital, my doula dropped about 110 capsules with instructions off to me, and I started taking them right away. I took two pills with breakfast and lunch for about six weeks, which is the normal amount of time. And why did I do this? Because ingesting the placenta essentially means you are taking back in the iron that you lost when you delivered the baby, as well as other valuable nutrients, which can all can boost your energy, aid your uterus in recovering and much, much, more.
However, these benefits are NOT scientifically proven and some health care providers do not believe in this practice, calling it unsafe, but I believe in it — (and it’s been around in ancient cultures, but is still a little new in the U.S.). In fact, because of what I’ve gone through with my fertility issues leading up to getting pregnant and having Brady, I like to seek alternative means at times outside of conventional medicine and have had a ton of success with Eastern medicine. And not to mention, my midwife from my OB practice, who actually delivered Brady, was fully on board with placenta encapsulation as well.
Did the placenta pills work? I think so. I did not have ANY postpartum depression or baby blues symptoms at all, nor did I have any issues with my milk supply or breastfeeding — all of which I would like to attribute to taking my placenta pills and reintroducing all of those valuable nutrients into my body that I had grown during pregnancy to create a home for my developing baby. It’s truly not as gross as it sounds. 🙂
Following the advice of my doula and resting
I can’t believe I went back and forth on whether or not to get a labor and delivery support doula. It was absolutely the right decision, and after interviewing two doulas, I’m totally confident that I chose the right one. (I went with Kathryn Webb of Red Tree Birth Services, and I would highly recommend her!) Not only did she help me (us) prepare for childbirth (read my birth stories here and here), prepare for staying in the hospital and then was actually there to help us make decisions and cope with labor, but she was integral in supporting me in a safe and healthy postpartum recovery. Here’s what my doula did …
- Encouraged me to do NOTHING but rest the first two weeks after birth. She told me I could possibly feel a burst of energy and needed to ignore that and focus on laying down as much as I could.
- Gave me some worksheets to help plan who was going to help with what once we got home from the hospital, so that I could be free to rest. Dave and I were able to use the worksheets to discuss our plans ahead of time and have it all laid out.
- Reminded me to rest when she came to visit me after we got home from the hospital. Once again, emphasizing the importance of laying down and snuggling with Brady, rather than running out to the grocery store or organizing my things, because of course, I had forgotten.
- Explained to me how even if I was feeling okay physically, my insides had a long way to go to heal up, and her words rang in my head whenever I was attempting to do too much. I totally took them to heart.
- Suggested that I wear a waste trainer/support girdle in order to help my uterus stay in place and encourage it to shrink. I bought one and literally did NOT want to take it off. I wore it every day after the first week through the sixth week. This is the one I wore and loved. I would tell any postpartum woman to think about having some sort of stomach support, because it just felt great to have everything held in tightly and securely. I took it off to shower and sleep, and that’s about it.
Basically, my doula was not only available to answer my questions leading up to Brady’s birth, but she visited me two times after his birth and counseled me to do all the right things for a healthy recovery. The rest was key. I know that if I had tried to push myself to be very active in the beginning, I may not have healed so quickly.
Other things that have helped my postpartum recovery …
There were a few other things that helped me to recover (and let me say that I am still recovering, because eight weeks out does NOT mean that I am back to normal, nor will I be for a while) …
- Eating warm and nourishing food. Chinese Medicine often suggests that you eat hot and nourishing meals, like broths and soups in order to help warm up your reproductive organs to support their healthy functioning. When you eat mostly raw or cold foods, your body has to spend energy warming up that food in your stomach, which can take energy away from warming up and maximizing the use of your reproductive organs. I totally believe in this, and other than sushi a couple of times a week, I tried to eat mostly hot and cooked food and a lot of fat. I loved the feeling of eating miso soup and hot bone broth — it just felt right.
- Stocking up on important postnatal care supplies. I took as much as possible home from the hospital, and there were a few supplies that I couldn’t have lived without. I highly recommend loading up on the following, because you need a lot of stuff when you’re in that post-delivery phase:
- Thick pads
- Cotton underwear with a full cut (no thongs, people — it’s just not the time)
- Witch hazel pads
- Peri bottle
- Numbing spray (this stuff is awesome)
- Stool softener (don’t knock it until you try it — a necessity!)
- Comfy pajama pants (my faves)
- Nursing bras and tops (I have this tank in multiple colors — love it)
- Nipple cooling and soothing pads
- Slippers and a robe (this robe is my GO-TO!)
- Slow walks in the fresh air. About two weeks after giving birth, I went out for a very slow walk with my mom and Rudy. We moved at a snail’s pace and stayed outside for less than 20 minutes, but that fresh air felt awesome. We continued to do that each day, keeping things nice and short, until I felt strong enough to add a few minutes at a time. I knew that moving my body in this gentle way was right for me at the time, and I waited until I was sure that was the case.
(Another tip? Drinking LOTS of water and always having it with me, and this is something I’m trying to continually get better at it, even though I consume a lot. Breastfeeding and being tired can be dehydrating, so there’s always a need for more H20, and this is my current favorite bottle, which I can drink with one hand.)
- A hot daily shower. I know that we’re supposed to cut our shower time down for the sake of the environment, but as a postpartum new mother, those moments in the steaming hot shower were the best of the day for me. As long as you have someone around to watch your little one, just go for it. I scrubbed my skin, let the hot water massage my head and soaked up the quiet time. Taking hot showers was truly me time, and I loved them and felt so recharged each day after taking one.
- The kegels. This should be a friendly reminder to all women to do your kegels. All the time. And also, I’ve heard of pelvic floor physical therapy, which can be helpful after childbirth. I didn’t think that I needed it, but I’m sure it’s very beneficial.
My overall postpartum recovery philosophy
I think that many women, particularly those in the fitness industry, are super excited about jumping back into their workout routines, regaining their physiques and getting right back into their activities, with their macros calculated and meals as clean as can be. I would have guessed that I would have wanted to be that way too with my postpartum recovery, but I’ve actually chosen to do things very slowly, and I can tell my body is appreciating it. I’m keeping my workouts shorter and lighter, I’m continuing to rest a lot, I’m taking slow daily walks and going very easy on myself. And I’m also not obsessing about eating super clean meals either, I’m focusing on lots of nutrients and also having plenty of treats, because quite frankly, I want them. And I always eat a slab of garlic bread with my plate of protein and veggies. Because bread.
Right now, my focus is bonding with Brady and feeling healthy, and that mindset has done wonders for me. I haven’t set any postpartum body or fitness goals, and I’m spending the majority of my time with Brady rather than exercising or fixating on my different and recovering body. Although don’t get me wrong, I’ll be VERY excited to get back into my jeans and feel lean, but I know it’s going to take some time to get there, and it’s not my number-one priority right now.
I’ve kept up with friends, done eight million loads of laundry, but I’ve not been putting too much pressure on myself to get a lot of other things done, nor to eat perfectly or work out a ton. That’s why the blog has been updated less frequently, and that’s why I’m not already back to teaching group fitness. This laid-back approach is very healthy for me, and I’m glad I’m doing it this way.
I would definitely recommend that all postpartum women practice some kindness with themselves, because it’s the best tool for postpartum recovery around. Kindness wins!
And that about concludes my current postpartum recovery efforts, although every day I’m still working on healing and regaining my strength, while also learning to be the best mom I can possibly be. And yes, I absolutely love it! Let’s move on to that giveaway now …
Vital Proteins care package giveaway
Thanks to my friends at Vital Proteins for this one. (Although, please note: this post is not sponsored, I’m just a fan!). Oh and collagen can be beneficial for people in all walks of life, so this is not just for those in the postpartum phase.
Rules: One lucky winner will be chosen next week, and the giveaway will close on December 6. The winner must reside in the U.S. or in Canada. The winner will receive a collagen care package worth more than $110 including the following:
- Vital Proteins grass-fed collagen peptides, unflavored
- Vital Proteins grass-fed collagen peptides stick packets, unflavored
- Vital Proteins shaker bottle
- Vital Proteins collagen creamer, vanilla
To enter the giveaway, use the widget below …
As a closing thought: Postpartum recovery from childbirth and having a newborn is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding things I’ve ever done, but once you get through the initial super hard weeks at first, you already start to forget how hard it was. And YES, its worth every bit of effort!
Whether you’re pregnant, postpartum, or not interested in any of those things but interested in the giveaway, thank you for stopping by the blog today! Take care of yourself and stay vital!Check out these tips for healthy postpartum recovery and a collagen #giveaway on A Lady Goes West ... Click To Tweet
Questions of the day
What’s your favorite warm meal?
What’s one way you can practice self-kindness today?