Hello darlings. Coming at you today with a blog post that is years in the making. I find that when I keep repeating myself in life, when I notice questions being asked of me in my community circles over and over again, it is a clear sign to me that instead of continuing to tell the same story over and over again, it is time to write it out and make it available to share via blog post. That is how this blog began after all, many people coming into my salon asking about how to do their own hair and self care better. I saw a need so I addressed it.
This post is about postpartum care, and it is for new mothers, non-gestational parents, soon to be parents, and loved ones of new parents. And it is my accumulated best practices for self-care, three births in.
This blog post is a call to action for communities and loved ones of new mothers and babies, and an invitation to offer support in the form of love and care instead of gifted items, as I believe that a revolution of pregnancy, birth and mothering in the form of support and love and access is necessary to transform communities.
This is a call to action to be aware of mothers-to-be in your community and neighboring communities who may not have support and access that you may have. How can you show up for them? How can you help them feel held in their journey to birth and mothering? Please share this post with them, and ask them if they would like you to help prepare these things for them. And if not, ask what can you do to support them. This is building bridges to healthy community and connection for all generations. FYI in this post I vacillate between speaking to the mother-to-be and speaking to her community. Hope its not confusing.
Here is a quick glimpse of what is to come in this post, to clarify what I want you to have in place for yourself ( or help put in place for others) preparing for birth: Time and space carved out to heal and bond. A support crew to check in on you, your dream meal cooked and ready to eat post birth, a batch of Life Blood tea in your fridge, Pussy Popsicles in the freezer with a few containers of healing liquid for your after-birth bath, baby wipe/ butt spray liquid ready with wipes, liquid chlorophyl ready for your water, Motherwort tincture, Arnica and Ibuprofen on your bedside to help you with the physical and emotional edges post partum, and a bouquet of fresh flowers opening their blossoms to the light, somewhere in your room. There are obviously many other ways to support, but these are my favorites.
New motherhood brings us to the depth of our own capacity to love and protect. We need to do whatever we can to bring this depth to the pursuit our our own care, so that we can care for our babies. Asking for help when we need it is absolutely crucial to caring for ourselves and our babies. This log post is to help put a few small and super helpful things in place so that you can be a bit more nourished and held through the vast ocean of early postpartum.
This post is also for people who have friends who are having babies and wondering what to do to help. How can you support the new family? How can a new non-gestational parent support their partner post-birth in practical and physical ways? What can I do with my hands??? How can I show up?
I have experienced plenty of well intentioned friends and family who have no idea how to show up for a new mama, and have learned from other mothers who get it, who show up already knowing what I need, not disturbing the bonding of mama and baby, and offering much needed nourishment without asking for anything in return. This blog post is for those who aren’t sure what to do but want to support new parents, and it is dedicated to all the mamas who have shared their favorite healing and nourishing post-birth wisdom with me. May the tradition continue.
I invite you to share this post with your community and use it as a guide to help you ( If you are a new mama or mama to be) ask for help in tangible ways by assigning the preparation and collection of these things to friends and family who want to offer you support but don’t know how to show up.
Before I dive into my recipes I want to talk about a few things to have in place before you give birth.
Time and Space
Before birth, it is really nice to have a set amount of time when you can plan to be in bed with baby, no demands on you, and with available care or people checking in on you throughout the day. There are many many ways that can look and there is no right answer, but I strongly suggest having a set time for yourself where you know that support is in place for you. You can arrange friends and neighbors to show up at certain times to check on you, hopefully you have a partner to help but if not please ask for help ahead of time. Let trusted folks know the condition you are in and what you are hoping for as far as support. Do whatever you can to allow yourself to be able to slow life the fuck down for yourself and your babe as you bond. Stay in bed.
Wow I just have to say now, I am feeling the inner broilings of opening up a gigantic can of worms with this blog post. I’m going to do my best to keep it concise and to the original point, sharing recipes. Definitely will need to write more on the subject though because I have a lot to share.
Please know that healing is a spiral. Healing after birth, regardless of your experience, is a multi dimensional process. We both heal our bodies and our souls from the trauma of birth, while learning to bond with our new sweet babies, and it is a lot to ask. It is a huge job. And much of it can be done simply by taking as much time to be still with ourselves and our new ones, letting our feelings and experiences integrate gently, while letting others care for our physical needs.
Healing from birth is two steps forward one step back. This is also the pattern of parenting so please understand your personal journey of transformation from maiden to mother as a microcosm of your life raising a family. Listen to your body and your heart. If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted, scared, anxious, trust your body and listen to it telling you to slow down. Please, please. Lay back down with your baby and ask for help.
Allow the rawness of your emotions post birth to be exactly as they are. Grant yourself permission and agency to let your post-partum time be exactly as you feel it needs to be. This means not apologizing for wanting to be locked in a room by yourself with your babe, if that is what feels right. Please understand that this raw mothering intuition and agency to listen to it is crucial to parenting and we as mothers need to hold our line and fight for this truth at times in order to navigate a linear, commodified and patriarchal world as mothers.
Put together a support team of trusted people, have their numbers on speed dial. Let them know ahead of time that you may be calling on them for support if you need it so that you can rest and bond. Get used to asking for help.
If you are a soon to be mother who does not feel supported or able to rely on community to help you in your post part time, Please email me directly and let me know where you live and I will use my platform to do my best to assemble some care for you through community.
I wish I would have known my first and second birth what I learned my third time around. Stay the fuck in bed. People told me to, and I didn’t listen because I felt pretty good and was antsy to Do Things because thats my general life MO. Third time in, I really understood. Staying the fuck in bed wasn’t just about me. It was about my child, and about our bond, and about my community and the world at large, through me and my choices.
Third time around, I learned that when we take the time to bond and heal ourselves post birth, we heal the world. I tear up as I say this because it was such a crucial understanding that has since so informed and transformed my life, which is why I feels to compelled to share this with you.
Without further ado, here are my favorite recipes and tips for post-partum self care. Have fun creating these yourself and having them ready after baby comes, or please by all means ask your friends or partners or family who don’t know what to do with their hands, to follow these recipes and have them ready for you.
Your Dream Meal
What is it? Who is gonna cook it for you? Have it hot and ready to eat after you give birth. It doesn’t matter who makes it. What matters is that it is ready for you as soon as your appetite hits you after birth. MAKE SURE that this is in place. Even have it frozen and ready to pop in the oven or have someone on board and ready to make it for you as soon as they get the call that baby is coming.
My dream meal is lamb stew with potatoes and mushrooms and lots of garlic. First 2 births I made it myself and froze it. Third time, mom made it for me. The hunger that hits after birthing is a burning pit of emptiness ready to be filled with something warm and nourishing and sustaining. Consider this first meal your introduction to the kind of eating that will best sustain you in the coming months as you navigate mothering, healing and nursing if that is a choice you have made.
Let your community know what kind of foods you love and what feels comforting, nourishing and easy. Ask them to prepare food that can be easily frozen and bring it over as needed.
Quick funny story: I found a beautiful giant purple beet at the grocery store the week before I gave birth. I became obsessed with wanting to juice it and drink it, knowing it was filled with the minerals my body needed, but decided to take it home and stick it in the fridge and wait till after giving birth to have my husband juice it and drink it then, knowing it would be especially delicious in that special moment.
Minutes after giving birth to my son, and placenta, my husband proudly presented me 16 ounces of thick, cold beautiful beet juice and I slammed it through a straw in under 30 seconds, feeling vitality returning. I felt like Wonder Woman.
10 minutes later, as my son was lazily starting to suckle, I lay like a goddess in my bed, robe on, feeling like a million bucks…… and then all of the sudden exteme dizziness hit me like a brick wall. The room started spinning, and I could feel my body going cold. My husband said my face turned actual green. I said to my midwives: Something is happening. I might need oxygen. I think I am going to die.
And then, the most extreme projectile purple vomit spewed from my mouth, all the way across myself and new baby, my bed, onto the floor and the wall as the entire beet left my body. Then, the greatest biggest belly laugh rolled out of me. It was absolute beet carnage and I still laugh about it.
LIFE BLOOD TEA
I call this power mom tea Life Blood because it is like drinking blood made from plants. The idea of drinking blood might gross you out, but after birthing it is absolutely life giving to drink this cooling, nourishing and mineral rich magic.
I made it for myself starting in the weeks before birthing, just to build up strength and calm myself. I drank it through out labor when I needed a sip of something, and I drank it through my postpartum time. I continued to drink it as needed in times of exhaustion and depletion, during times of bleeding once my period returned, and still to this day 2 years later, it is almost always in my fringe.
I make it in quart jars, steep it on my counter over night, strain it and pop it in the fridge, drinking it cold whenever I need it.
In a large bowl, combine all dry herbs in equal parts. Toss with your hands to blend. Fill jars with mixture and stash in your cabinet to last a while.
When you are ready to make a batch, scoop about 2 cups of mixture into a large pitcher or jar. Please don’t stress about measurements, its just herbal tea and there is no way to do it wrong. Fill jar with boiling water, add a half cup of molasses, and give a little stir. Let it sit on the counter over night. The next day, strain into a different jar. Pour into a cup and drink. Keep refrigerated and take whenever you need a literal test and boost of life blood.
Please add any other ingredients you like, perhaps rose petals and orange peel. Spruce it up. Know that the magic is in their already, in the form of potent iron, folic acid, magnesium and potassium, vitamin C and salt (add a little extra sea salt if you want) and many other deep earth minerals, waiting to be absorbed by your body in the form of vital sustenance.
Straight up. No matter what your birth is like, your entire pelvic everything and/or C-section incision will love you for having these popsicles ready in your freezer to sooth and heal your nether zones after birth.
To put it simply, you are going to make a tea, add some stuff to it, soak maxi pads in it, then freeze them and pop them into your undies when you are experiencing pain from healing the vagina/c-section scar. They are packed with potent soothing and healing herbs and organic ingredients, many have been used for centuries to heal women after birth.
Here is what you will need:
To prepare: Empty contents of sitz bath herb kit into a large boiling pot. (a gallon is great.) Know that you can curate your sitz bath herbs yourself by gathering or purchasing calendula, comfrey, plantain, chamomile, lavender in any combination. In my opinion, it is the calendula that holds the most soothing and healing capacity in this recipe. Anyway, cover the herbs with water, bring to a boil and let it roll, covered, for a half hour. Turn off heat and let it cool.
Once it is room temp, add the following: 1 cup of witch hazel, 1 cup of aloe, 1 cup of castille soap, 4 drops of tea tree. Optional, the juice of one large organic cucumber. (thats my friend Holley’s recipe) Stir into the pot. This is your healing liquid, which will be used for popsicles, bathing, and in your peri-bottle.
Unwrap 10-20 maxi pads. Take off all the adhesive strips. Dip one by one into the liquid, fully saturating. Lay flat in large zip-lock bags or stack flat on wax paper or something, separating layers of pads with additional paper. Stick in the freezer, flat. Once they are frozen, you can just put them all in one bag, and keep in the freezer until you need relief from post-birth healing of the vulva, vagina or cesarean incision scars. Also, you can use them on creaked and soar nipples. Just let them sit against your burning skin, working their chilly magic.
With the rest of the liquid, freeze it in 3 cup-ish amounts and put in your post-birth baths. Bath baby with them, and heal yourself while you soak. *Also, add it to your peri-bottle to spray into yourself as you pee to sooth burning after birth.
After giving birth, when you feel ready for your first bath, add your healing liquid and float a few fresh flowers in the bath with you. Let the water hold you. Let this first bath remind you of the healing powers of water, in all forms. Water will be there to hold you and help you flow through the challenges of healing and mothering. Let milk flow and tears flow into your bath. Whatever you need. Just be held. I have learned through mothering that water is a great universal mother.
Easy Disposable Baby Wipes:
Also, this liquid makes an excellent diaper wipe liquid for soothing and cleansing baby butts in between diapers. I put it in a spray bottle, and spray it onto baby wipes, which I made with all of the receiving blankets that I was gifted and never used. I cut them into squares and kept them in a stack on my dresser, with spray bottle of healing liquid, and they were perfectly fine and awesome. Nice to not have to buy disposable wipes and great to soothe and refresh baby butts with this lovingly made healing liquid. Diaper rash never happened in our house.
Reminders to Breath
Herbal Care for Pain and Comfort
Late pregnancy and post-partum are both times when breathing is very extra necessary and also extra difficult. For both physical reasons and emotional reasons, it can become hard to breath deeply through the sensations and demands of birthing and caring, and breath is so needed to both carry oxygen to our babies, and to keep ourselves sane and centered when giving birth and learning to be mothers.
Two things that helped me breathe through birth and postpartum were Chlorophyl pre-birth…….A few droppers full once a day, sipped in my water to help boost oxygen in my blood, really helped me with the breathlessness of being hugely full of baby and placenta without much room to breath for myself.
Motherwort Tincture helped me after birth, to regulate my hormones and assisted me in remembering to mother myself. Motherwort has been used for postpartum mamas for stress relief and I found it to be a super support in sweetening the bitterness of mothering. It took the edge off right where I needed it postpartum. I took it, half a dropper at a time under my tounge as needed for stress, anxiety, anger. The hard edges of motherhood.
Breath. When shit gets hard, breath through it. Birthing teaches us this. We have to keep remembering.
Call it sensation, call it whatever you want. When your body is in pain from the physical trauma of birthing a large being through the narrow passageways of a human body, internal homeopathic Arnica and Ibuprofen are bffs.
Used by midwives and surgeons alike to assist in the soothing of internal inflammation after surgery, injury and birth, Arnica’s subtle but potent way of bringing gentle relief is life-giving. Same with Ibuprofin. When our bodies need to heal and integrate, inflammation slows everything down and also taxes our immune system and exhausts us. Mitigating inflammation streamlines tissue healing, and maximizes comfort in the process. I am not generally person who wants to mask physical pain but in the case of healing after birth, having the relief of anti-inflammation was HUGE.
My advice is to have internal arnica tablets by your bedside after birth. Ask your partner or a caregiver to be on top of timing as far as taking it. Stay on it!
Thats right, fresh ass flowers. Pretty ones that smell good. Have them in your room with your baby, in water. Keep them happy, and when they die, get more. Keep them coming. Sniff them often. Have a friend on Flower duty. This reminder of the beauty and freshness of the outside world will help to keep you feeling grounded and surrounded by love, and remind you that the world is waiting to wrap its gorgeous arms around you and your baby once you are ready to emerge.
For friends and family of new parents: PLEASE. Help support the new parents and baby by caring for them in tangible ways that are not intrusive and please ask nothing of them beyond how can you support them best. Do not ask for their attention and energetic resources. Please bring them only what you know they need, try and inform yourselves ahead of time by having a conversation with them about their needs, and be prepared to show up, drop of, ask how you can be of service, perhaps fold a load of laundry, and then leave.
My hope with this blogpost is that it will get shared, and then fold can leave comments for their favorite Postpartum practices, wisdom and recipes.
I want to thank my Ozark Sisters for teaching me how to mother my children and mother myself, holding me in my postpartum time and sharing wisdom with me. They are featured in many of the photos in this blogpost.
Love to all.