By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
August is not only the hottest month of the year – it’s also Breastfeeding Month, a time for discussing new babies and how best to help them flourish. This year, however, we want to focus on the heroic new mothers, and the ways they can take care of themselves during the postpartum period.
The first months with your new baby are quite the adventure, and for many it can be an overwhelming time. In addition to recovering from pregnancy and childbirth, you’re also experiencing a wealth of new physical and emotional changes. Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, your body is undergoing immense upheaval and it’s important to take steps to look after yourself as well as your lovely new baby.
One of the most significant challenges facing new parents is the lack of sleep, and most new moms will be incredibly exhausted. The important thing is to remember that this is normal and to do what you can to ease the strain.
A tried and tested method is to make sure you take the chance to sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it’s just a few hours here and there to close your eyes. For others, the disruption to your sleeping cycle can make it hard to relax when you do have the chance. Many find hot baths are a good way of easing stress, while others look to herbal remedies like chamomile teas (Traditional Medicines, Stash and other brands), capsules, such as valerian root (Nature’s Bounty Valerian or Kalms) or lavender products such as Nature’s Truth Lavender Oil in the bath or Traditional Medicines Lavender & Chamomile tea.* Equally – be kind to yourself. Allow your partner, family and/or friends to help with things like housework, so you can focus on caring for yourself and your new arrival.
Nutrition is also a great way of aiding sleep, maintaining energy levels and helping you recover from pregnancy and childbirth. It can be hard to pay attention to food, but eating a balanced, healthy diet could make all the difference.
It’s a good idea to plan quick and simple meals that pack in the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables are key, alongside whole grains and lean proteins, such as fish and beans. If you’re struggling to get the nutrients in, a multi-vitamin such as your prenatal vitamin (Sanatogen, Materna etc.) or Pregnacare New Mum as well as other supplements like iron (Ferrograd and Spatone), calcium (Caltrate or Calcium Citrate) and magnesium (Nature’s Truth Triple Magnesium Complex) can also help improve both energy levels and your sleep cycle.* Fluids are equally essential, especially for breastfeeding moms, and it’s helpful to have plenty of drinking water around the house for as and when you need it.
It’s also crucial you take time to check-in with your mood. The majority of moms experience ‘baby blues’ in some capacity, such as crying, mood swings or anxiety. However, if you or someone you know develops more severe symptoms, such as feelings of isolation, despair or confusion, it is vital that you speak to your GP. Postpartum depression impacts more than 10% of all new moms, but it is easily treated with the right medical support.
New babies are wonderful – and hard work. All moms are different and do the best they can in their individual situations. If you have any questions or concerns about yourself or another new mom, the pharmacy or your GP is the best place to start.
*Breastfeeding moms should always check with a doctor before ingesting herbal remedies or supplements
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.