A woman's postpartum diet can help or hinder her recovery after birth because food is medicine....
There is a physiological reaction that occurs in some women when breastfeeding that results in an improper drop of dopamine levels at the onset of letdown so instead of dropping naturally, they stay risen for longer (D-Mer.org). This hormonal shift is momentary, but can be quite significant. When this happens, the mother will feel a few moments of overwhelming sadness or even grief. Because postpartum and early days of nursing aren't difficult enough as is, eh?
Women are being given a disservice in their preparations for postpartum care. Almost all of the focus is on preparing how to care for their newborn, and not nearly enough emphasis is placed on preparing the mother for her transition to motherhood after birth. She is told what might happen physically, and there is thankfully more attention being paid to the mental state of the mother. But nobody prepares her emotions for the life-changing transition of maiden to mother. This can throw the new mom for a loop when the emotions unexpectedly come crashing down, or they are surprised to feel letdown or disappointed after the baby comes since they are no longer receiving the special attention that they had enjoyed for almost a year. I call it jokingly, The Cinderella Syndrome. This 'Cinderella Syndrome' is very real, and can in my opinion, lead to greater postpartum depression if the mother is taken off guard by how let down she feels about the pregnancy being over, and everything is back to real life now and with a completely helpless being in tow that she must ensure survives.
Women have brief discussions near the end of the pregnancy with their providers on signs to look for as far Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety goes, but the conversation pretty much stops there. Teenagers are given more information on their hormone fluctuations during high school body and sex ed classes than most women receive as adult, birthing individuals. It is one thing to tell a birthing person that their hormones will drop around day three, it is entirely another to dig deep with them to help them navigate these waters prior to the event actually happening.
This preparation is necessary in that like most things, education and awareness are key to minimizing any detrimental outcome that might hinder recovery of body, mind, or spirit. At the same time that the hormones are dropping, most mother's milk is coming in and they are trying to navigate nursing a fresh baby. This is also the time that the fatigue starts settling in for most parents as the adrenaline from the birth high wears off, and the body is firmly in the midst of trying to repair itself. Reality of the changes in the woman's life sets in, and there are even women who have a hormone drop each and every time their milk lets down, known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex) which is an overwhelming feeling of sadness each time the mother has a letdown while nursing or pumping. If the mother is not aware of what is happening or what the feelings are, this can impede with breastfeeding and compound potential fallout with Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety. Therefore, it is crucial for the mother to not just know what is happening and to find coping mechanisms, but to gently surrender to the feelings to explore where they are coming from, what the trigger is, and what the root need of the extreme feelings are that must be met in order for the mother to feel safe and nurtured so that she can heal the unmet need and be able to take another step forward into motherhood. This will require some work on the mother's part, which may seem daunting and exhausting as the big day draws near, but it can actually become a form of meditation and release that will aide in a smoother labor, with a more positive outlook on the birthing process, and a stronger feeling of confidence in themselves when venturing forward as a parent after the baby has arrived.
As a Sacred Postpartum Mother Roaster, I have an especially vested interest in ensuring mothers are able to rest in a calm, quiet environment after baby arrives. Not only does this allow the body to heal quicker, but allows mother time to look at, examine, and get to know her baby. She is also able to examine her own feelings when left in quiet, and to reflect on the birth to process it, and to take note of her current emotional and mental state during various points in the day such as middle of the night, waking, nursing times, and late afternoon when most people start feeling the drain of the day. The reasoning behind this is that the sooner she can identify her feelings, the sooner she can identify the triggers, which all leads back to the earlier points made of the mother being able to heal those unhealed aspects of herself so that she can move forward in life secure and strong.
So as you are preparing for your big day, don't forget to prepare yourself and your emotions for the massive changes that will come after your sweet little baby has arrived. Take time to examine your feelings on things in your current life such as food, your relationships, your current feelings towards motherhood, and what the future holds for you and journal those feelings down. If you have fears, I always recommend doing a fear release by writing down those fears and then burning them in a fire (safely!), then writing down new words of power and encouragement to help change the mindset and views on those topics. Of course, I recommend finding a therapist, preferably one who specializes in Postpartum Therapy if one is available in your area. Here in the DFW we are lucky enough to have two or three within an hour's circumference of the city. If a therapist or Postpartum Doula/Mother Roaster is not an option, set yourself up with a support system prior to baby coming whether that be through the church, your neighbors, or a local moms group so that there is at least someone to lean on when necessary if things start to get out of control in your world. Allow yourself to surrender to the birth and after, and let people help you instead of trying to keep up with our societies expectations that mothers snap right back into it after having a baby. It will do you more good than any amount of "getting through it" ever will.
All my love,
So in the news lately is an article that is demonizing the lovely Chrissy Teagan for, well, pretty much every single decision she makes regarding her children. Never mind that it is only because she chooses natural methods and ways over mainstream and pharmesutical that makes the industry feel threatened in some way.....but I digress.
This time specifically, it was about her choice to steam her vagina after giving birth. The uproar was insane, with 'experts' weighing in about how it was unhealthy to put steam in the vagina. Let's start right there. At no point in the vaginal steaming process does steam go IN to the vagina. How do I know? Well, I'm a Mother Roaster. I have been trained in traditional and ancient postpartum practices that bring wellness and balance back to the body, and assist in quickening the healing process after birth. So when I tell you that steam does not go IN the vagina you should probably trust me on this one.
What happens instead is a gentle and warm steam that goes mostly around the outer labia, and if the woman chooses to GENTLY spread her legs a little bit, then a bit more of the soothing warmth will penetrate the membranes and tissues of of the inner labia. Once again, there is nothing going IN the vagina. Yes, I realize I keep emphasizing the word 'in'. It feels necessary as people seem to have either a vision of a harsh jet stream of steam being forced directly into the vaginal opening, or a picture more like steaming clams (no pun intended....well, maybe a little bit.).
The steam is more along the lines of what builds up in the bathroom and you shower. You know how you take a hot shower, and then when you get out, it is.....steamy? Does that steam hurt you? Definitely not. It does however, open your pores, allowing toxins to leave the skin and body, while at the same time having the capability of taking in properties that are good for the body if there are herbs or oils present, such as putting a sprig of eucalyptys in the shower to diffuse the oils and smells. It's no different with a V-Steam. I choose herbs and flowers to put in hot water to steep, then give it a couple minutes to cool so that you don't burn yourself. We put the bowl either under a slotted chair or in a well-scrubbed toilet, then wrap you in towels and robes to make sure your body doesn't chill while steaming. Then, you just hang out and relax. Seriously, that is it.
I really wish people would stop falling for the fear mongering. If this practice is so incredibly harmful, it wouldn't have kept in practice for thousands of years. It just wouldn't have. Our society loves to go through phases where they ridicule and mock anything that isn't conformed to what the powers at be believe our image should be. When in all honesty, it is modern medicine that is still having to prove itself safe, effective, and without side effects.
V-steams are used for a multitude of reasons including: fertility issues, menstruation relief, and of course postpartum wellness. So next time you are on your moon cycle, or shivering with abdominal pain from birth, contact a provider or study up on a v-steam for a soothing, and all natural option to aiding the body in healing itself.