Postpartum Pampering. Impossible? I think not!

Most women partake in some sort of prenatal pampering, but what about postpartum?
Having a baby sucks. Most women are in labor overnight and go through hours upon hours of excruciating pain and physical exertion during childbirth, not to mention the emotional upheaval that comes with having a tiny new life that depends on you for their very livelihood. On top of all of that, your body goes through extreme changes in the hours during and after childbirth. Estrogen levels plunge, replaced with prolactin and progesterone surges, preparing your body to nurse as well as return it to it’s pre-pregnancy state, as well as causing weepiness and mood swings.  There is little time for a new mother to rest after birth, even in the hospital.  Nurses, doctors, pediatricians, registrars, and visitors flood into the room in a steady, stressful stream.  And, of course, your new baby has to eat every couple of hours! As a rule, brand-new mothers tend to feel completely overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally.  If anyone needs stress relief and a little pampering, it’s a new mother!

The thought of taking time for oneself may seem a little crazy, if not completely impossible, in the weeks after having a new baby.  If I didn’t injure my neck and shoulders during the birth of my 2nd baby, little Lucy, I would have never googled “postpartum massage,” and never had the soothing, much-needed break that I got 5 days after her birth, when a trained postpartum massage therapist (Jessica of “Don’t be Knotty“) came to my home, and while my baby slept, gave me a massage.  Yes, in my home, and yes, it was as amazing as it sounds! At that point, my nerves were still too rattled, and my baby was still too new, for me to consider venturing out with her to get a massage at a business.  A good postpartum therapist will be sensitive to a new moms crazy schedule, her intense fear of leaving her baby, and the many sensitivities and pains she is having in her body. Although no longer pregnant, I laid on my side during the massage, as I was still sporting painful rock-boobs from the massive oversupply of milk that often comes that first week after childbirth… as if we need any more pain at that point!  My massage therapist diffused a essential oil blend called “balance,” and I felt soothed immediately.  She also focused on areas which are often stressed during childbirth; neck, shoulders, arms, and lower back.  The best part was that my child was there too; as a new mom, she was on my mind 24-7, and I know that if I had left her at home with a babysitter, there is absolutely no way that I would’ve been able to relax.  My therapist had told me that if I needed a break to tend to my baby, it was totally fine; another sign of a good therapist! As it turns out, my daughter slept the entire time! She is already showing signs of being an achiever!

I was also introduced to the use of essential oils for postpartum problems and even baby.  Dealing with intense anxiety, as well as a colicky infant during the first several weeks postpartum, I made liberal use of “balance” and “wild orange.”  I diffused them in the nursery during the 4 am feedings, which made a huge difference for both my frenzied state-of-mind as well as my daughters.  When I developed a clogged milk duct, I used lavender which relieved the pain (lavender is also great for soothing a fussy baby!).  There are oils you can use to increase milk production (basil), soothe sore nipples (myrrh), treat thrush and diaper rash (Melaleuca).  That is just a sampling of some uses for essential oils postpartum; a wonderful option for nursing mothers, when medications are often not recommended or even dangerous.  Still pregnant? There are hundreds of uses for oils during pregnancy as well.

It may not seem like much, but the massage and aromatic oils were extremely comforting during those first few weeks of craziness that is the postpartum period.  Selfish? No way. Anything that can reduce stress, give mom a little break, and soothe are well worth it; both for mom and for baby.

Don’t be knotty massage therapy and essential oils

Elizabeth Christy

Elizabeth Christy is an author, writer, and IT professional living in Sterling VA. She lives with her husband James and 4 year old son, Jimmy. In addition to basic survival, Elizabeth enjoys reading, sewing, and nature. She also runs the nonprofit organization "Books and Bottles", which promotes reading to young children. (Facebook.com/booksandbottlesorg

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