A Holistic Approach to The Fourth Trimester
Written by Alana Mulhall BHSc Naturopath | Mothers Mylk
It is mind blowing that in modern Western Cultures, postpartum care beyond leaving the hospital does not exist. Outdated social norms make it common for both the new mother and her physicians to predominantly focus on care of the newborn.
We are now seeing many mothers feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and an unrealistic pressure to “bounce back”. Mothers are far too often reassured that anxiety, mood changes and fatigue are a normal part of motherhood. Whilst it may be common, it is certainly not normal!
It is important for Mothers to take their postpartum health into their own hands. Planning and organising support for their postpartum period is the first step to thriving as a new mother.
Taking a holistic approach to the postpartum period means understanding that you can’t do it all. Gathering your village during this time is a key step to supporting emotional, mental, and physical health after birth.
Some considerations for your village may include:
~ A short-term house cleaner: This may also be beneficial to relieve any anxiety that may arise around an unkept house leaving you to focus on rest and healing.
~ Family and friends: Scheduling in regular help (at a time that suits you) to watch your new bub while you catch up on sleep or much needed mummy me time.
~ Mental Health Support: Psychologist, counsellors, perinatal mental health nurses and helplines (such as PANDA) may be required for some mamas. Knowing who you can reach out to when you need support can be helpful!
~ Naturopath or Nutritionist: To assist with dietary recommendations and supplements to restore your health after pregnancy and birth.
~ Lactation Consultant: Breastfeeding isn't always as easy as it’s made out to be! A lactation consultant can assist and give some good pointers.
~ Physiotherapist: To provide safe exercises to prevent muscle tension/injuries from birthing or breastfeeding and support pelvic floor rehabilitation.
Nutrient Depletion After Birth
Pregnancy is a huge demand on the female body, and it can often leave mamas depleted after birth. The 6–8 week period after birth is a vital time for deep rest and optimising nutrient intake to replenish depleted nutrient stores.
At 6 weeks postpartum, it is highly important to have a check-up with your health practitioner and get some blood tests done to check for underlying deficiencies. Pregnancy and childbirth are huge stressors on the body (physically, emotionally, and mentally). After pregnancy and birth many women will present with suboptimal nutrient levels or nutrient deficiencies.
~ Iron Studies
~ Full Blood Count
~ 25-OH Vitmain D
~ B12 & Active B12
~ Plasma Zinc
~ Thyroid Panel
*Depending on health history more tests may be indicated.
Many cultural traditions focus on dietary inclusions to support healing and promote warmth within the body. Certain nutrients like iron, iodine and DHA are highly important during this time and should be included within the daily diet.
Mothers Mylk has designed Nourished Postpartum, a true fourth trimester survival guide. The recipe book includes 60 naturopath designed recipes to replenish the body after giving birth. The book includes educational information about the hormonal changes, which occur after birth and how to best optimise your health during this time.
3 Health Tips for the Fourth Trimester
If you are already a mama, you know just how easy it can be to forget about yourself and get caught up in looking after your little human. If you have recently given birth, the days and nights can easily become a blur and mama’s mealtimes and care can often get forgotten about. However, mama’s need to know that they cannot pour from an empty cup and skipped meals often lead to nutrient deficiencies.
After birth, mothers need more nourishment than ever before and require high levels of specific nutrients, especially when breastfeeding. Some of the top nutrients to include after birth are:
~ Iron and B12: required to carry oxygen to cells and support energy. Low iron and B12 levels can cause symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, low energy, and shortness of breath.
~ Protein: essential for muscle repair, balancing blood sugar and regulating mood. Protein should be included with every meal and snacks daily.
~ Omega-3 fatty acids: required for healthy brain function and support the nervous system and immune system. Omega-3’s are found predominately in oily fish and supplementation may be required during pregnancy and postpartum.
A reminder for Mama
Don’t wait until you feel tired, depleted and exhausted to follow up on these tests. Filling your cup first will allow you to show up as the amazing mother you are, every day.
Nourished Postpartum includes health information and 60 recipes to teach you how to nourish your body after baby arrives.
The Fourth Trimester is a transformative time and a mother planning for her postpartum period could be one of the most important things she can do for her baby and herself.