How to Get Amazingly Good Sleep with a Newborn

No matter who you are, you know that having a newborn means you can expect many sleepless years. A new survey conducted even suggests that parents lose an average of 6 years of sleep from their life per child. That has become the new standard in postpartum, and with it, an array of health, safety, and relationship issues.  

Getting good sleep with a newborn is a multi-million dollar industry. You’ll find articles, books, programs, consultants, and every kind of information available to you about how to make your baby sleep longer so that you can in turn, sleep better.

Although some of these books, programs, and consultants have helpful information, most of them are full of misleading and even dangerous advice (if you hear your baby is abnormal if they wake more often than every two hours, or that you need to follow a routine schedule, RUN).

The truth is that infants aren’t the ones who need to be trained (that comes much later in life). It’s parents who need the sleep training.

Most new parents expect that having a baby won’t be disruptive on their day-to-day lives. Although most of us know that adding a family member will be life-changing, those very words are a bit vague and unclear. Certainly, we know things will be different and that sleep will be minimal. But most don’t know what that means until they’re in the throes of it (and desperate to get out, I may add).

Infant simply don’t fit into our bust lives. We, as parents, have to change up what we know as normal to fit what is typical and ordinary for them. Sleep training is never to be used before your baby is 6 months old, as it can have dangerous repercussions. It’s far easier to retrain yourself and learn how to maximize healthy sleep for you and your newborn (and in a way that goes beyond “sleep when baby sleeps”). 

The Dangers of Too Little Sleep

Women on average need 8-10 hours of sleep and in postpartum (not just the first few weeks), that number increases to 10-12 hours per day. Our need for ample rest is due to our body recovering from not only birth but also from using our body to grow a human being for 9 months (which is no small feat, by the way).

Unfortunately, most women get significantly less, especially in the days after birth. A newborn’s needs coupled with the desire to awe over what you’ve just created keep you wide awake. Sometimes it takes the brain several days to process the labor and birth experience before sleep can take place. Sometimes the overwhelming need to nurse and get to know how best to care for our little one makes sleep and rest feel impossible.

Exhaustion isn’t only frustrating; it also wreaks havoc on health. When you don’t sleep well, you don’t have the energy to eat well either. Your ability to make sound decisions, drive safely, and simply think clearly, are impacted.

And even more, in postpartum your hormones become completely out of balance. Hormones in postpartum are not naturally out of balance. They take several weeks to regulate but their shift and changing is a normal part of your body taking care of you and baby. However, when sleep doesn’t happen (and those hormones aren’t supported), they cannot synthesize or regulate, throwing the entire system off.

Exhaustion in the extreme is considered sleep deprivation (a torture tool, by the way). In my own experience with my first baby, having gone months without sleep, I began hallucinating in the middle of the night, watching my curtains come alive and sing me a song. Nothing felt more terrifying! Sleep deprivation deeply affects every organ in your body, and is one of the biggest leading causes of postpartum depression and anxiety.

Why Your Baby Wakes Often

Newborns are biologically programed to wake every few hours. Not only are they needing to refuel their body, they also wake as a survival mechanism. Not waking every few hours is associated with far more developmental issues, sleep problems, and an increased risk of SIDS. In other words, you WANT your infant to wake up often as it’s a necessary component to a thriving baby.

It’s also important to note that a newborn’s tummy is the size of a cherry, filling up on one teaspoon on their first day and holding around 3 ounces of milk by the end of the 5th week. Because of the nutritive properties of breastmilk, these small amounts get digested rather quickly. This is why nursing on demand is so critical. An infant’s rapid growth in the first year of life has them chowing down as soon as that little belly empties, which could be in 15 minutes from their last meal.

Side note: newborns have had the privilege of never feeling hunger when they were growing in your womb. The feeling for them is new and may be uncomfortable but at this age, newborns don’t comfort nurse. They are only wanting more because of their biological need to eat or innate wisdom to satisfy their suck reflex. At this stage, both needs should be met with the breast only.

When It Isn’t Normal

For any baby, especially an infant under 6 months old, it’s typical to wake often. Most programs recommend that your child remain sleeping for 2-4 hours with a few wakeful periods in between, and that waking any more than that means there is something abnormal. The focus here is all wrong. Infants may fall asleep and wake 15 minutes later wanting to nurse again. Or wake again after being set down to sleep alone. THIS IS ALL FAIRLY NORMAL.

If your infant doesn’t have a handful of sleep sessions that last 2-4 hours when sleeping on mama in a 24-hour period, and tends to wake several times without getting any of these deep sleep opportunities, then consider that something may be off.

Keep note that the key here is frequency of these wakeful periods after being put down and whether or not they are happening while baby sleeps on mom. Most of the time, a newborn’s need for comfort of their mother is strong and they will not remain sleeping without her touch.

If your baby has very few sleep periods that last 2-4 hours and cannot remain sleeping whether by them self or on mom, consider something else may be at play. The most typical scenarios for this is food allergies or lip/tongue tie that causes gas or acid reflux, or a physical problem from birth, or their position in utero that requires a chiropractor and/or occupational therapist.    

Important Things to Know about Newborn Sleep

Infants don’t know a thing about day or night. This is a more complex knowing that takes time to develop. Expect your baby to be “confused” about day and night and not know when it is they are to sleep most.

You can never spoil a newborn. Ever. Nor can they try to manipulate or take advantage of you. When they cry, it’s because they have a need that has yet been met. This is one of the reasons why allowing a newborn to cry it out is never okay. CIO (leaving a baby to cry alone for longer than several minutes) is associated with several developmental consequences.

Essential oils at this stage in life is not safe. Although I absolutely love my oils and their medicinal properties, they are still medicinal, and should be avoided completely (whether diffused or diluted on the skin) until at least 6 months old. The only exception to the rule is the use of lavender, which can be combined as 1 or 2 drops of lavender to ¼ cup of oil for lotion. Lavender is known for it’s ability to help with sleep but shouldn’t be used for newborns or in the amount necessary to help one doze off. It’s use is strictly for skin support.

There is no schedule. Newborn sleep without pattern or form. Their wake, sleep, poop, and nursing times have zero pattern and cannot be placed on a schedule. Their body is growing too fast that their needs are constantly changing. Once they hit about 6 months of age, a pattern develops. Until then, don’t even try to wrap your head around what’s coming next in their day. You’ll go crazy trying to figure it out!

Tips for Getting Amazingly Good Sleep

  • Understand baby sleep cycles. It’s much easier to support a newborn with their sleep and get better sleep as an adult when sleep cycles are fully understood. Adults reach a full sleep cycle in 90 minutes and require about 4 of these periods in a 24-hour time frame (some require more, as a postpartum mother does). A newborn, however, reaches the same sleep cycle in a 60 minute period. Knowing this makes certain things a bit easier. For example, their deepest sleep will happen about 20 minutes into their rest, making it the perfect time to transfer them elsewhere if needed. 
  • Tired infants sleep worse. If you’ve got a newborn who’s overly tired, they will wake more often, on top of being fussier during wakeful periods. So, if your newborn falls asleep on you and they wake the moment you set them down (and this pattern continues), you can bet to have a harder go at getting the sleep you need. Newborns have only known their mother’s comfort and in the first few weeks of life, and prefer only this as they navigate this massive life transition. Allow your newborn to rest on you for a few of their sleep periods and as they get older, they will feel more comfortable transitioning to someone else or to their own sleep space.
  • Co-sleeping has different meanings. Although the natural desire (of all mammals) is to sleep together while touching, it may not be safe in every situation. Statistically, mothers get far more sleep when they breastfeed with their infant that’s close by. Co-sleeping can also mean that your infant is sleeping next to you in a bassinet or in a crib in the same room. The closer, the better in terms of the amount of sleep you get. Always do what’s safest for your family first.
  • Mental health plays a role. Your brain has changed in such a way postpartum as to allow you to crash the moment your head hits the pillow. If you find that you are having a difficult time falling asleep, or that you wake often even when your little one still sleeps, consider your mental health. In the first week after birth, many women will feel this if they have gone through a particularly difficult birth experience and their brain needs time to process what happened. But not being able to sleep is also a sign of postpartum mood disorders. Anxiety and depression are stress responses to whatever is going on in life. Eliminating stress and asking for help are great ways to get back into a sleep rhythm, which in turn, supports your hormones and your mood.
  • Nutrition matters. Do you know what is responsible for helping you sleep? Hormones. And when they don’t get the nutrients needed to produce those hormones and regulate them, your sleep gets thrown for a loop. We already know that pregnancy takes quite a bit of nutrients. If we aren’t eating a balanced meal, those get depleted from our body (not to mention that most women start into their pregnancy with a few deficiencies already). All this plays a role in your mental health. Which in turn, impacts your sleep. It’s also important to note that your postpartum body isn’t able to take in the nutrients it needs as it once did due to the lack of enzymes to break down the food. This is why nearly every culture on the planet has a different diet strictly for the first 6 weeks postpartum. You can learn more here about what to eat and how to support your body nutritionally in postpartum here.
  • Rest counts. We’ve all heard that resting while your baby rests is necessary. Although that’s true in the sense that it will help you get more sleep, it isn’t always doable (hello multiple children running around!). It’s important to know that even if you aren’t able to nap, resting can be just as beneficial, especially in these first few months postpartum. 
  • Mimic the womb. Some newborns need a little extra support to fall asleep beyond breastfeeding and your warm touch. Offer your infant comfort measures that resemble the womb environment.  Bouncing your baby on an exercise/birth ball is the closest feeling to what it was like in the belly. Swaddle to offer that condensed space and to prevent the startle reflex from jolting them awake. And consider how loud it was living inside you; from your heartbeat to your digesting juices, it was never a quite space. Some parent’s find a noise machine, fan, or even a vacuum cleaner to be helpful.
  • Sleep regressions. Newborns don’t typically have regression periods, which are massive brain developments happening in a short period of time. The first regression is usually around 4 months old. Although there are plenty of things you can do to support your little one and your sleep during this time, it’s critical to understand that it’s just a phase, and a very normal and exciting growth at that. Expect that these regressions earlier in age to be in the form of cluster feedings. This isn’t generally a sign that your milk is drying up but that your baby is growing and requiring more of it. Always give the breast and feed on demand and you’ll see your supply pick up to accommodate.
  • Don’t expect to do it yourself. Even with breastfeeding, your partner can burp, change, and put baby back down to bed. By sharing the load or splitting the responsibilities, you’ll both get more of the sleep you need (and avoid some arguments in the process).
  • Your expectations matter. It’s far easier to plan your days and weeks ahead with the idea that sleep may not be easy right away. Expect to have to troubleshoot and fine tune your strategy, only to do so again when things change in a few weeks’ time. Expect to need to spend a good portion of your time making sleep your number one priority. 

For sleep strategies and specific how-tos that address your unique situations, work with me 1:1. You can fill out the form here to connect.

7 Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Postpartum Hormones

Your hormones effect EVERYTHING.

The way you sleep, bond with your baby… it’s responsible for your weight, breastfeeding, hair loss, libido, brain function, night sweats, and of course, your mood.

Postpartum is a time of massive transition for your hormones, and if not cared for properly, can leave you feeling like a complete disaster.

 

Let’s be clear about one massive point here:

Having a baby doesn’t equal hormone imbalance. Just because you gave birth, doesn’t mean your hormones are automatically messed up. Your hormones are in a natural state of flux during this time.

They are doing what they are biologically supposed to do:

  • They support a growing baby in womb.
  • They support your labor.
  • They support you in breastfeeding.

This isn’t what makes you weepy or has all your hair fall out.

Most women face hormone imbalances because they simply don’t know how to care for their body in postpartum (our society’s lost art). Most of those symptoms mentioned above take effect from not giving your body what it needs in such a sensitive time.

And how are you to know what your body needs during such a raw time when postpartum hormones themselves are not understood?

 

Download your free 7 Secrets to Balancing Hormones Naturally in Postpartum

Want to know how to heal your postpartum hormones and get them back on track again? Download everything you need to know on how to support your body right here. These 7 secrets are exactly what I use to heal my clients and transform their postpartum from depression to bliss.

    Ao truly understand and appreciate hormones, particularly in postpartum, it’s critical to take in a bit of background information.

    During labor your body’s natural pain relievers, oxytocin and endorphins, skyrockets.  Oxytocin levels moments after birth are the highest they will ever be in a human’s life (literally off the charts). And as these two hormones increase during this transition from pregnant to postpartum, estrogen and progesterone of pregnancy are at a rapid decrease. And of course, this is just the basics. These are just a few of the hormones running through your body!

    This flux is what most consider responsible for the “baby blues”. However, cultures with strong emphasis on maternal health after baby, that also support women in self-confidence and empowerment (respecting their decisions, encouraging them that they are making the right choice, and assuring them they are doing a great job), rarely experience this occurrence.

    Your hormones also provide energy to your cells. They act as messengers, telling the body how to regulate itself and the processes within. There are a few organs and glands that produce these hormones, and then they are sent out into the body to regulate fluid balances, electrolyte balances, nutrient levels, metabolism, and so much more. And many hormones overlap each other and work together to perform certain functions. But the tiniest shift or imbalance in hormones can throw off the body completely. When one thing is off, say your nutrient levels, that can affect sleep, which impacts memory, mental clarity, and on and on and on.

    Specific hormones produced in the sexual organs, such as estrogen and progesterone, have a direct impact on brain chemistry, which in turn, effects emotions, moods, and behavior. Emotions and feelings also stimulate the release of specific hormones. To top it off, hormones like estrogen directly impacts dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. And during postpartum, estrogen is CRASHING, which can cause depression and even psychosis.

    But there is great news in that oxytocin, another feel good hormone, is extremely high for mamas postpartum who haven’t had Pitocin (used to augment labor) during the birth process. Side note: Pitocin is an artificial version of oxytocin and when administered, shuts down a woman’s natural oxytocin release. This gives mother hardly any once the baby is born, leaving her susceptible to postpartum depression due to the significant estrogen drop. Oxytocin is also a hormone responsible for your bonding and connecting with your baby, and even responsible for ejecting milk to feed your baby. Truly a magnificent, all-performing, mama hormone.

    Your body is really a delicate dance of hormones.

    One mishap within them, and your entire system can become out of balance. Your moods can become negative and feel like they are taking over without your control. And bonding with your baby may feel overwhelming and non-existent. And of course, your relationship with your partner may be on edge, where you are snapping or crying in a split moment without warning, and completely suffering from lack of a sex drive, sleep, and everything in-between.

    And this isn’t even getting into how our gut health effects hormones!

    Hormone imbalances can affect a woman for many years and even extend into her menopause. Essentially, what you do in postpartum will affect you for the rest of your life.

    So if our hormones are so sensitive, how could we possibly make sure that they are in balance and well cared for?

     

    Download your free 7 Secrets to Balancing Hormones Naturally in Postpartum

    Want to know how to heal your postpartum hormones and get them back on track again? Download everything you need to know on how to support your body right here. These 7 secrets are exactly what I use to heal my clients and transform their postpartum from depression to bliss.

      For most of us, the last thought running through your head in postpartum is about how to balance your hormones. Nor should it be. We as mothers have enough to think about. This is exactly why I stress the importance of preparing for postpartum in advance. So that you have the tools you need already in place so that the only thing on your mind is caring for your newest addition.

      Over the next few months, I’ll be writing more on exactly what you can do to support your hormones. If you want specific and guaranteed significant results within a matter of weeks (rather than the average of four years), you can work with me one on one. To learn more, click here.

      8 Ways to Heal from a Difficult Birth

      A Powerful Guide to Coping, Healing, and Finding Strength in Your New Normal

      Birth is transformative, beautiful, awe inspiring, empowering, HEALING… euphoric. The process of birth has the ability to heal a mother on a very deep level. But for many strong women, giving birth isn’t one of her greatest achievements, it’s an experience that leaves her feeling… traumatized.

      The word “trauma” has become overused in our culture and is not something many women want to associate with their own experience. But the reality of the situation is that giving birth affects you (and your baby) on a profound level. The act of giving birth, whether empowering or not, disrupts the entire body, its functions, and requires months of healing. It’s a transitional time in your life that you will never forget, and when this life transition is worse than expected, it can leave lasting negative impressions on you and your child forever.

      For most women, you have been made to believe that the only thing that matters in the way of birth is that your baby is healthy. But guess what? YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO. You have a right to feel. You have a right to be angry, sad, burdened, or whatever it is that may be running through your veins. And even more, you deserve to heal from the event, no matter what you experienced.

      I’ve put together a PDF downloadable list of the 8 Ways to Heal from a Difficult Birth, including my most favorite trusted techniques I use for my birth trauma clients. It also includes bonus information on how to support healing your baby after a challenging welcome to the world. Download here.

      Whether you feel you are experiencing trauma, birth grief, or feelings of dissatisfaction with your birth experience, you aren’t alone. One study found that over 20% of women meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD after birth. Women are consistently being misdiagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety when really, they are experiencing symptoms of trauma after having a baby (and thus requiring a completely different approach to healing). 

      How can trauma effect a mother and child, you ask?

      • Lack of bonding and detachment from baby, which is associated with future childhood anger, aggressiveness, and anxiety
      • Difficulties breastfeeding
      • Irritability, fussiness, excessive crying in baby, which leads to stress response in mother and a continual spiral
      • Difficulties sleeping
      • Flashbacks, nightmares
      • Avoiding anything that’s associated with the birth
      • Hormone imbalances
      • Partner/Marriage conflicts
      • Intrusive and scary thoughts
      • Feelings of loneliness, anxiety, shame, guilt, sadness, frustration, anger, failure, powerlessness… and so many more

      Although this list isn’t all-inclusive or all-required, the outcomes are not to be underestimated.

      Birth trauma greatly impacts postpartum. Both labor and life after baby become difficult, overwhelming, and feel impossible to navigate alone. Oftentimes in my work as a Postpartum Bliss Coach, I see women who have compartmentalized their experience and have learned to live with the effects of their trauma. Although this is a coping strategy that gets you through the days, it isn’t a strategy to heal. The need to dive deep into healing is critical, no matter how you’ve been able to cope (or not).

      Experiencing trauma or being unable to cope isn’t a sign of weakness. To give birth is to be vulnerable and requires the utmost trust and support from providers and people you love. Most birth traumas stem from loss: loss of baby or baby’s health, loss of security and safety, loss of confidence in your body, loss of important people (maybe your midwife didn’t make it), loss of confidence in others, and loss of experience. When you have something taken away from you, in a time of natural openness and susceptibility, it’s well within reason to express your emotion and your truth.

      Giving birth changes who you are on a fundamental level. Much of postpartum is spent healing your body and learning who you are as a mother. Who you are shifts; your definitions of love adjust; what’s truly important in life is questioned; and what it means to be a woman, parent, and partner transform. Life in postpartum is spent with the core of your very being exposed and adding new layers to the definition of who you are. When birth is traumatic, all of these changes become viewed through a dark lens. The tasks of healing, bonding with your baby, and changing feel ugly, horrible, and even impossible.

      And as the weeks and months go on with trauma left unhealed, and as the lack of sleep and imbalances take a toll, you get lost in the shuffle. And the work to dig yourself back out and rediscover the REAL you takes great effort and sometimes even additional support. Although counseling and therapy are always options, there are other ways to heal and move on in peace.

      Thankfully, there are more ways out than one.

      1.      Tell your story.

      Story telling is a form of ancient medicine. Although it can be difficult to open up and share the details of how labor and birth happened to you, the effects can be incredibly empowering. Tell your story to someone who is open to listening fully. Someone who can ask questions like “What else do you remember?” and “What do you wish you could have said to (your partner, medical provider, baby) in that moment?” After you’ve told your story, find something positive and empowering within your narrative that will allow you to reclaim it and take back some of your power. It can be something small or something you think is minute now. Add as many details as you can to that one thing. Then retell your story with it. This isn’t something you do back to back. Allow yourself to process the first, raw version of what happened to you and tell that version again if you feel you need to. Eventually though, the goal is not to live in this place but to move into a more empowered place.

      2.      Join a support group.

      Listening to other women who share experiences related to birth trauma can bring a sense of hope and understanding that you aren’t alone in the journey to healing. It can also be a place to share your story and learn hands-on coping skills (not to mention the potential for friendships!). However, not all support groups are equal. The goal of a group should be to support you in healing and when you walk away after a meeting, you should feel relieved and maybe even inspired. If you find that it’s a bitch session, run for the hills. There will not be any healing or support from a group like that. 

      3.      Learn the details.

      Request the medical records from the birth. Ask questions from those who were there. Call your provider after and ask any questions that may be lingering for you. Re-learning what happened to you in detail might allow you to gain knowledge about the facts, and leave space for moving forward.

      4.      Write.

      One of the most healing acts we can engage in is the act of writing with pen and paper. When done in this way, you are able to access both hemispheres of your brain, promoting healing on a very deep level. Even if writing doesn’t feel like your thing, the act of doing it, especially when given the right prompts for healing, can have immediate effects. You can write a letter to the birth team or whomever. Or write specifically for yourself, telling your story and exploring how you relate to it. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with author Amie McCracken on the topic of writing your birth story and have developed writing prompts with her that fuel healing from a traumatic birth. You can learn more here.

      5.      Learn relaxation techniques that help you reprogram your thought patterns.

      Learning to breath and calm your body when you feel triggered or begin experiencing a panic attack or wave of negative thoughts. This is the first step to adjusting these patterns. But the objective will be to use them to your advantage in making them go away for good. When used in conjunction with other techniques listed here, learning specific relaxation techniques will eventually help you stop those negative responses to your trauma so that you don’t experience them again.

      6.      Allow your body to go through the physical symptoms of trauma,

      including shaking (which can be induced), crying, and allowing yourself to feel the emotions that have been welling up within you. The physical body holds on to trauma and nearly all experts in the field agree that movement is necessary to healing. Many times, these things NEED a physical way out of your body. Otherwise, they grow stale and stagnant and fester deeper within you. In postpartum, this can be exceptionally challenging as most exercise is off limits. But induced shaking, crying, and feeling your emotions are amazing ways to begin the process.

      7.      Seek pelvic floor therapy for physical trauma

      If any sort of physical trauma was part of your experience, such as an episiotomy, developed scar tissue, or the occurrence of urinary incontinence, it’s important to seek treatment. Although you can emotionally heal from an experience and still remain with physical symptoms, it makes the process that much easier when you seek support on all levels.

      8.      Use art to heal

      Art as a healing mechanism is a passionate topic of mine. Much like writing, art allows you to access all areas of the brain, bringing about a more whole-body approach to healing from trauma. When I teach art as a tool for healing in birth and postpartum, it brings a sense of awareness to the mother creating, and when led in a specific way, has the ability to access the subconscious thoughts that help dictate many of the trauma responses. If you want to learn more about how to use art to heal your body after a difficult birth, you can click here.


      Other facts about difficult birth and trauma:

      • Trauma doesn’t happen just in labor and birth. It can also arise from a difficult pregnancy or postpartum.
      • Difficult births and trauma can affect partners at the same level or worse than that of mom.
      • Birth trauma can bring up older trauma, especially those that are painful or sexual in nature.
      • However common a difficult birth is, it isn’t “normal.”
      • Baby also needs healing.

      I’ve put together a PDF downloadable list of the 8 Ways to Heal from a Difficult Birth, including my most favorite trusted techniques I use for my birth trauma clients. It also includes bonus information on how to support healing your baby after a challenging welcome to the world. Download here.

      If you’d like to dive deeper, I will be hosting a 3-day video series on Healing from a Difficult Birth and sharing everything I know on how to find peace in the midst of challenge, even in postpartum. Much like everything I share, it will be drastically different than what you already hear. Want to watch? Click here.

      Join the Mindful Postpartum Mamas group for the birth trauma video series! Click here to join.

      If you are wanting support in healing from birth, or are wanting to significantly lessen your chances of experiencing trauma in birth, you can apply to work with me one-on-one. Here, I address your specific and personal needs within birth and postpartum and give you the tools and resources to make it happen. You can apply to work with me here.

      7 Biggest Misconceptions of Postpartum Nutrition

      And How it’s a Leading Cause of the Postpartum Depression Epidemic and the Rise of Autoimmune Diseases

      Our modern world has failed to understand how radically unique the postpartum body is that we are on the verge of destroying the very mothers this time transforms. In our busy life, we take great pride in being able to return to the normalcy of life before baby as if having a child didn’t change a thing. In reality, growing a life within changes us mothers so deeply, that even the very cells in our body are forever altered. 

      In pregnancy, much has been done to understand nutrition and the best way to support our growing baby. The science and wisdom for postpartum however, has been practically dismissed. Worse is that it’s assumed that one should simply continue eating as they had done before pregnancy, or better yet, as they had done during pregnancy. Nothing is further from the truth.

      In fact, eating in postpartum is counter-intuitive to everything you are being told right now. When you look at the symptoms of postpartum moms and the significant amount of discomforts they experience, one has to ask the question “is this supposed to be difficult or is there a far better way?”

      In looking deeper into what postpartum mothers often experience, we see over 30% of moms go through depression. That doesn’t include the women who keep silent or don’t know they are in the fog until it lifts. This statistic doesn’t account for postpartum anxiety, postpartum bi-polar, psychosis, OCD, or any other mental health challenges that develops post birth. These mental health disruptions effect how we raise our baby, interact with our partner and the world around us, how we handle stress, and so much more. The effects are so serious and they leave lasting impressions, and with rates in our culture soaring so high, it’s a wonder why it hasn’t been called a national epidemic.

      Of further concern, and one of the more serious postpartum epidemics, is that of autoimmune diseases. Women are at a significant risk for getting a serious life-altering disease, where her own body attacks itself, after having given birth. One study connected having a cesarean to a 30% increased risk for developing an autoimmune disease within the first few years after having a child. Not only are these life altering, they are downright difficult, expensive, and life-threatening (autoimmune disease means a much greater risk of developing cancer as well). Surprisingly, much of this is can be tied directly to the way we nourish (or don’t nourish) our body in postpartum.

      To understand why this is happening, it’s critical that you fully understand the seven key misconceptions of postpartum nutrition. When you fully comprehend these ideas as the false information they are, you can begin the process of healing your postpartum deeply, while protecting the body from disease and mental health challenges.



      I’ve put together a PDF downloadable cheat sheet of the 7 Misconceptions of Postpartum Nutrition, which also contains bonus information on what you need to know if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, and how you can control its gene in your newborn baby.

      1.      It’s okay to eat “cold” foods, especially nutrient rich smoothies and some good ol’ ice water

      At first, it sounds absolutely crazy but I’m not the only person to tell you ice water and smoothies, and anything cold in general, should be minimized or eliminated in postpartum completely. Many cultures practice this today, as it’s believed that letting in cold will bring upon illness and is detrimental for the postpartum body. And here are exactly why those ancient culture’s views are correct.

      First and foremost, the postpartum body isn’t one that is just healing from birth, whether vaginally or from a cesarean, it’s also healing from carrying a baby within womb for nine months. For a significant amount of time, your body has literally grown another human being. All by its lonesome. And healing in postpartum is a culmination of pregnancy and birth, all rolled into one. Essentially, the body is very weak and contains a gaping wound within it. Not to mention mamas who may have torn, had a traumatic birth, or experienced a cesarean (all of which add another layer of necessary healing).

      When we go to the doctor for a massive wound and are put in recovery, the protocol is NOT to put ice or cold on it but the complete opposite. Let the healing wound be warm and dry, which stimulates proper blood flow that brings vital nutrients and clotting to the wound for healing. In postpartum, the “wound” is practically your entire body, especially within your center which contains the uterus. Whatever you eat and drink will immediately effect this area of the body. Cold also prevents proper oxygenation, a necessary tool in combating harmful bacteria, and even prevents regeneration of tissue within the uterus and perineum.

      But that isn’t everything. Cold foods and drinks also contract blood vessels and makes it harder for the body to digest nutrients, especially fats (which are essential in postpartum for healing and your milk supply for baby). Even when a body isn’t in postpartum, it will expend a great deal of energy warming up the consumed contents to an acceptable temperature within your body. And energy isn’t something a postpartum body has a great deal of, and it’s certainly not something you want to give away to warming whatever you ingested.

      The moral of this misconception is to stay far away from cold foods and drinks. Make sure what you ingest is at least room temperature.

      2.      You should return to eating like you were in pregnancy. Or even before.

      Eating during this time is radically different than eating in pregnancy or pre-pregnancy. And here’s why: your postpartum body lacks digestive enzymes, which are necessary for breaking up foods and suppling your body with nutrients needed for hormone balance and regulation, milk supply, and overall healing and health.

      Due to the amount of energy necessary to break down foods, it’s simply easier for the body to receive foods that are easy to digest. Foods that are easy to digest also tend to be heavily nutrient dense. By requiring the body to eat these foods, it’s able to get what it needs faster and without exerting any extra energy to get there.

      Often, this is the very reason why most women experience intense gas and bloating in postpartum. Many times, that extends to indigestion, hemorrhoids post-birth, and a host of other gut issues. When you cannot break down the foods you’re ingesting, the food just… sits there. It essentially starts rotting in your belly. Which then causes the gas, bloating and so on. If it continues without correction, you develop a “leaky gut”, meaning you become the proud owner of food sensitivities and allergies. This is also the main cause for the rise in autoimmune diseases.

      Many women usually ask “well I can just take digestive enzymes then, right?” The answer is sure, but I don’t recommend it. We don’t fully understand why the postpartum body lacks enzymes, which means it’s even important to allow the body to regulate itself first before adding anything additional to facilitate it. Often, adding herbs, essential oils, or gut stimulating supplements such as enzymes, will cause a misbalance to occur. Until it becomes a problem that needs correcting, allow the body to naturally regulate its digestive enzyme levels. Until then, eat warm foods that are very easy to digest and nutrient dense.

      3.      It’s okay if you don’t want any food at all in postpartum.

      As a Postpartum Bliss Coach, I often run into a mama who just had a baby but has little to no appetite. If this is you, there is a problem at hand.

      When breastfeeding, you require at least another 500 calories in your diet. For many mamas, this usually results in an insatiable appetite, especially after feeling so limited after third trimester.

      Although most lack of appetite is related to postpartum depression, that’s not the only cause.

      First and foremost, make sure that you are eating warm foods that are easy to digest. If you aren’t, this could cause a multitude of gut issues that can make food less than desirable. Sometimes if you’ve been eating a diet that doesn’t support your body’s needs for some time, including foods that you may be allergic or sensitive to and may not know about, your nutrition levels could already be suffering. If you already have these issues, and then eat a diet that’s not supportive of postpartum healing, you enter a zone where thyroid issues become likely.

      Another common issue for not wanting to eat in postpartum is to gain a certain level of control in the midst of chaos. If you are someone who needs to feel in control all the time, postpartum can have often leave you feeling powerless. Whether conscious or unconscious, moms will use food as a means to gain whatever control they feel they need.

      Whatever the issue is, not eating in postpartum may be common but that doesn’t mean it’s okay in the least bit. Make sure you are eating right, check for depression and the need to be in control, and get your thyroid checked if necessary.


      4.      Breastfeeding will help you lose those pregnancy pounds, especially if you diet.

      This is just plain false and usually has the opposite effect. If you aren’t following the warm food and nutrient dense protocol mentioned above, you aren’t getting enough nutrients into your body, and you’re likely feeling sluggish, exhausted, and like a hormonal hot mess. It’s so easy to blame the fact that you have a newborn in your life who’s responsible for all of this. And to some degree, that’s certainly very true. However, you control much more than you think.

      When your body is lacking, it lives in a state of stress. Quite simply, eating a limited diet that doesn’t support a postpartum body will make your hold onto more because it’s afraid it won’t get enough. To make it worse, when you aren’t getting the right nutrients, it becomes more difficult to sleep. Nutrients and sleep are essential for hormone regulation. Without balanced hormones meant for postpartum, you have milk supply issues and problems regulating your weight.

      As a side note, weight loss in postpartum should be the LAST thing on a mama’s agenda. Instead, focus on having a healthy body in which you can build a solid foundation. Postpartum is a time when every layer of your being is shed. You have the power to heal your deepest wounds and traumas and reconnect with your truest being. When you care and nourish yourself thoroughly, you have the power to walk away feeling stronger than you did before pregnancy. Imagine rocking the best body you’ve ever had with a toddler on your hip. Eat right and don’t work out in the first several months (that’s another post).

      5.      Not eating meat is fine, as long as you supplement.

      Living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has amazing environmental benefits, offers a way to help “clean” the gut, and provides a powerful means to spirituality. But when it comes to nutrition in postpartum, it isn’t something you can just forgo, even if you supplement with pills.

      Your body is meant to eat meat. You have teeth specifically designed to eat it, a gut to process it, and a body that requires certain nutrients from it. I’m not here to berate you into why you need to eat meat (I’m the first to tell you every body has different needs), but in the case of postpartum nutrition, it’s an essential.

      There are certain nutrients, such as B12, which are vital in the development of red blood cells and nerve regeneration, that are necessary for your uterus in healing. However, taking a B12 supplement doesn’t just solve the problem. A supplement only consists on the basic item itself. A B12 vitamin is just a B12 vitamin. What’s missing is the other components only offered in meat (creatine for energy, carnosine for muscle function, heme-iron for easy digestion) and so much more that science has yet to fully understand it all. Protein from animals is also far easier to digest and requires less energy for the body to digest than other protein sources and supplements.

      Almost every culture and religion on the planet has a specific diet plan for postpartum and every single on of them contain meat (except those strong of the Hindu religion). The necessity of the nutrients derived from meat are notable for their effects on breastmilk and supply, mood regulation (vegetarians and vegans are at an increased risk for postpartum depression), and overall lessoning the healing time of moms.

      It’s also important to note that the meat you consume plays a drastic role in your health, just as everything you put in your body. Whenever possible, eat organic grass-fed animals, preferably from a local connection to ensure quality and freshness.

      6.      Vitamins will cover the imbalances.

      It’s no joke that our food lacks the nutritional levels it once did in before industrialization of society. To consume the same amount of nutrient levels from a handful of leafy greens in 1840, we’d have to consume handfuls among handfuls in today’s world. Because of this fact and the difficulty in getting what our body needs, even when not in postpartum, we’ve come to rely on supplements.

      Supplements play a major role in pregnancy and as every provider will tell you, a necessary component to growing a healthy baby. However, there is a massive problem with supplements.

      First, they aren’t to be treated equally. Supplements aren’t a regulated industry and there are several concerns for the quality of products on the market. How to even know if your body is responding well to a vitamin is purely individual. And often, this leads to lots of money spent finding the perfect match, especially for higher quality supplements.

      In postpartum, the body changes rapidly and what once worked in pregnancy may not work well after the baby. It’s also very challenging for the body to break down a multi-vitamin that’s been engineered to fit inside a capsule.

      Never rely on vitamins to get the essential nutrients your postpartum body needs. Instead, use highly nutrient dense food, being careful to not leave behind any gaps. Generally, this process is handled by a tribe of women who take on the responsibility of a new mother, but as that time in our history lapses, it’s important to plan our postpartum nutrition plan in pregnancy, so that we don’t fall short of feeling overburdened by our own nutritional needs.

      7.      You should simply follow the RDA (recommended dietary allowances), science, and your doctor’s advice.

      Want to know a little secret? RDA (a measuring tool set for determining what your daily nutrient intake should be) is a made-up set of numbers, determined by a panel of people who decided that those numbers were the optimal level we humans should be getting. Although most of this is based in science, it’s still a very difficult subject to understand and it’s constantly under review and changing.

      The problem is that the scientific method breaks down information to study one simple component of nutrition. The whole of nutrition is so complex, that it cannot be considered. So although we learn much from isolating specific nutrients and studying them, there is a significant gap in how it relates to the whole body. It’s also interesting to note that the most of these studies are completed using the RDA’s as their way of determining what’s important, and these numbers vary in recommendation per country. Japan’s recommendations are higher than America’s, and so on.

      Not only is science limited and ever evolving, your doctor’s education in nutrition is not. Unfortunately, even when it comes to prenatal care, most doctors have not trained or even taken a class on the subject.

      What does this mean for you? It quite simply means that the way you nurture your body is ultimately in your hands. The way you eat and care for yourself and your baby is solely your responsibility, and a great big one at that. As our cultures shift to more individual and less community oriented, the obligation falls on you, the mother. The only person who can take charge and care for you is YOU. It’s important that you pay special attention to how your body responds to food, adjust accordingly, and plan accordingly.

      Download your cheat sheet of the 7 Misconceptions of Postpartum Nutrition, which also contains bonus information on what you need to know if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, and how you can control its gene in your newborn baby.

      If you’d like to dive deeper, I created a 5 part video series Blissful Postpartum Nutritional Healing Series: 5 Days to Building Strength and Health with Food in the Fourth Trimester and share everything I know on how to support you in eating the right foods postpartum. Want to watch? Click here. I dive deep into these 7 misconceptions and how to support you in eating the right foods postpartum.

      Join the Blissful Mamas Facebook group for the nutritional series and webinar! Click here to join.

      If you are wanting specifics on what to eat, including a 6-week Postpartum Meal Plan, how to meal prep in pregnancy, shopping and implementation guides, you can apply to work with me one-on-one. Here, I address your specific and personal needs within postpartum and give you the tools and resources to make it happen. You can apply to work with me here.


      Nursing Station 101: Creating a Holistic Space for Breastfeeding in Postpartum

      Breastfeeding.

      While I certainly knew that I’d be spending a bit of time nursing my baby, little did I know how much time I’d be sitting in the same spot everyday… nursing my baby.

      It wasn’t just the late night fog of nursing (“where am I? What am I doing?”) but the long days of nursing too. If breastfeeding was a sport, I’m pretty sure every mother would be competing for an Olympic Gold Medal.

      It didn’t take me long to figure out a little hack though. And I make sure all my birth and postpartum clients take part in it too. It’s the luxury of a nursing station.

      Everything you ever needed for yourself and your baby right at your fingertips. No latch followed by “oh crap. I forgot…” Because let’s be real. #mombrain . We (okay, I) forget something every single time.

      And let’s also be clear about this. The nursing station isn’t for baby. Sure, there are diapers and wipes and all things baby-lisious. But really, THIS IS FOR MAMA. This is for mama to sit down, relax, and know that she has everything she needs right at her fingertips.

      And during the early postpartum, it’s critical mom rests her body as much as possible. Moving about, collecting forgotten necessary items, stressing over finding what you need (or not finding what you need!) is far from healthy. It’s downright unhealthy. And it will only extend postpartum bleeding, deepen feelings of exhaustion, and so much more.

      Creating a nursing station isn’t just for first time moms. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first, third, eleventh, or last. Actually, the more kids you’ve birthed, the more you probably realized you’ve needed one!

      So without further ado, let’s get right into what makes a nursing station. At the end of this, there will be a free download, so you can print this off and take it shopping if you’d like. Or simply stash the list on the bottom of your nursing station basket and use it as a reference for refiling. The less you have to use your brain on containing all the details, the better.

       

      The Nursing Station Container:

      This, quite simply is the easiest. Rubber Maid tub it if you need to. Although I recommend something you absolutely love. The more beautiful you have your station, the more you’ll feel better about sitting there for a good part of the day.

      Another thing to consider: have more than one station. As you begin venturing further than the biosphere of your own bed, you may want to have another nursing station in a place you enjoy sitting. Like the couch. And keep one at your bed for late night breastfeeding.

       

      For Baby:

      • Wipes and diapers
      • Extra baby clothes
      • Burp cloth
      • Swaddle blanket

      There isn’t much necessary for baby. I’d even venture to say that the clothing part is completely optional, especially in the early days postpartum. A blanket and mama’s bare chest (and a diaper) are all that are needed. Wipes are amazing not just for quick diaper changes, but for wiping up milk messes, and dropped food crumbs on baby’s face (that’s never happened to me. Ever).

       

      For Mom:

      • Water
      • Snacks

      Water and snacks are essential items for your nursing station. If you aren’t drinking water every time you nurse your baby, you are going to hit dehydration (and thus a drop in milk supply) fast. So make sure that you are drinking a ridiculous amount of water. And of course, calories and protein are still just as important in postpartum as they were in pregnancy. However, now you are nourishing a bigger baby which will take more from you than they did within the womb. So snack away, mama. Some amazing snacks to pack in at your nursing station: nuts, dried fruit, homemade lactation cookies, granola…

       

      • Nursing pads
      • Nipple cream

      Nursing pads and nipple cream are about as essential as a bathing suit at a public pool. Not only did my boobs need something to contain their newly developed skill of shooting out breastmilk every 20 minutes, but I desperately needed something to help ease my nipple’s transition to breastfeeding. Although nursing should NEVER be painful, the first few weeks can cause a little tenderness as you now have a newborn sucking away at them all day. Eventually, they’ll toughen up but in the meantime, it’s nice to have a bit of support.

      My absolute favorite nipple cream is my homemade recipe (I’ll share that shortly). But if you aren’t into that kind of thing, check out MotherLove. Their Nipple Cream is so soothing. And it can help keep thrush away.

      And if you are in the market for nursing pads, I’d stay far away from the disposable supermarket brands. No only do they make diaper-like noises in your bra (eeewww), they are made of chemicals that aren’t necessary to tell you about because they are considered a medical supply good. Do you and your baby a favor and check out these amazing organic reusable pads from Borealis Britches. They are my absolute favorite. I’m fairly certain I own about 15 pairs.

       

      • Chap stick
      • Hand lotion
      • Things to read
      • Stress Away Essential Oil

      Mother’s comfort should never be put on the back-burner. A comfortable mama bonds better with her baby, heals faster from labor and birth, enjoys postpartum more, and experiences far less mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Some basic self-care tools available to you at your nursing station can make a world of difference. Bring your favorite chap stick and hand lotion, make sure to pick up Stress Away Essential Oil (you can get it from your local Young Living distributor), and some of your favorite things to read. Books and magazines, both trashy and healing are welcome. Do what makes YOU feel good and hold little space for the rest of the world to chime in.

      Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorites:

      Of course, I’ve created a free PDF print download for you of this exact list, so you can create your own holistic space for breastfeeding within your home. Bring this list shopping with you, or simply place it in your nursing station so you can gently be reminded on what to stock it with.

      Is there anything on the list I’m missing, mama? What was the most helpful thing for you in your nursing station?