"Postpartum" means occurring after birth.
At Doulala we refer to the first 6 weeks postpartum as a sacred window. It is a window of time that can be leveraged for long term health or the opposite. “42 days for 42 years” is said of this influential time.
For most birth givers, recovery from birth and pregnancy extends well beyond this, but the first 6 weeks are the most delicate. The delicate sacred window extends for people who experience pre-term birth, loss, surgery, complications, trauma, mental health challenges, and giving birth later in life.
What is important to do during the postpartum sacred window?
You’ve got a busted body and delicate mind right now. Don’t fight it, or “power through” it, embrace it. Be open to others who want to help, let them. Give them space as they change the diaper differently than you. It’s fine. Let them learn while you take a bath! If you need something, ask for it as specifically as you can. Accept the humor, laughs, meals, clean laundry, and other treats that come your way.
Rest deeply & be with babe
Rest skin to skin with baby as much as possible. Sleep when baby sleeps. Try to get at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at least 3 times a week. Do what you can - separate beds, earplugs, eye masks, white noise, etc...
Hum, snuggle, giggle, communicate with, marvel at your little human. Have fun. Give in to love & rest. This alone can keep common postpartum issues at bay.
Talk with someone, who’s not your adorable baby, every day. This is especially important if you are home alone with baby all day! Setup weekly calls with your people for the first months or year. Try to spread them out across the days you're alone.
Attend that free virtual “milk café” or baby friendly yoga from your smartphone. If talking to someone isn’t happening, listening to conversations of folks in their postpartum season can be resonant. Search postpartum wherever you get your podcasts to find something you like.
Take it slower than your slowest
For at least the first three weeks, please take it slow. If bleeding or spotting increases, that’s your body saying “Slow down. I’m not ready yet.” Do your best to listen and be patient. S l o w short walks around your home outdoors may be just fine for you, but it’s not quite time to wear baby and go speed walk around town, brave the supermarket, or deep clean the house. Soon enough.
As you can and as required by your climate, take warm salt baths for the first 5 days. Side benefit, these help restore the whole body, soothe, and heal torn and cracked tissues quickly.* Prevent drafts, especially when bathing. Get a warm oil massage, or do warm oil self massage daily. Dress warmly. Belly wraps, hats, ear bands, hot water bottles on belly and back are good. Drink warm things like warm water, herbal tea, spiced water, & milk tonics throughout the day. Chilling items like icing the perineum & nipples are not our favorite.
Eat & drink warm, easy to digest food & drink
Your digestive system is very delicate. Emphasize soupy protein-rich foods. Eat lots of healthy fats including ghee and sesame oil. Abundant fats in the first days soften stool making for more comfortable poops! Steer clear of heavy, cold, raw, dry, spicy, fermented, and leftover foods whenever you can. Brassicas and nightshade veggies also cause discomfort (leading to colic) for baby if you’re nursing. Baby's digestive system is tiny in the first months. During this time, the prime nourisher’s diet heavily affects nursing baby’s comfort or discomfort.[i]
Staying hydrated is a big job if nursing. To stay interested, try a variety of nourishing beverages and water throughout the day. A thermos of nursing tea and cup by the snuggle station can make all the difference.
Eating adequately and staying hydrated is essential for emotional wellbeing.
Get your birth story out
Consider sharing your birth story with someone, possibly another birth giver who can sympathize. This serves as an important step in stopping the stress cycle, and helps to begin processing any trauma you may have experienced.[ii] If you want to avoid re-exposure to any trauma; acupuncture is effective non-exposure treatment for trauma including PTSD.[iii] Ask your partner or supporter-in-chief to book an appointment for you.* Japanese acupuncture uses small needles and is generally considered a gentle option.
You may want to record your birth story somehow while details are still fresh. This can be meaningful to share with your child when the time comes. Writing, speaking, drawing, painting, creating are all good ways.
Everything else is not a priority during the sacred window. No need to go out, houseclean, work, or visit with anyone if they aren’t helping you in some way. You can start it all up again soon. This influential time passes quickly. Honor it and honor your body's openness by cocooning as much as possible.
In all instances, check-in with and listen to your body. Don’t hesitate to contact your care providers if you are worried about something. Ask them for referrals to postpartum specialists in pelvic floor therapy, mental health therapy, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, etc.
Please consult your care providers with any medical questions! We are not medical professionals. Our recommendations are not medical advice. We do believe following our recommendations can reduce medical issues for you and baby. We are informed by the time-tested traditions of care and support for birth givers from around the world. These traditions, which evolved out of thousands of years of observation are full of wisdom that modern day science is beginning to understand.
*Not Medical Advice
[i] Oakes, Ysha. (2015). Touching Heaven, Tonic Postpartum Care and Recipe Traditions with Ayurveda.
[ii] Nagoski, E, & Nagoski, A. (2020). Burnout: The Secret to unlocking the stress cycle.
[iii] Hollifield M, et al. (2007) Acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Ding N, et al. (2020) Efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating post-traumatic stress disorder: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis.