Coming from a long Dutch tradition where new mama’s will be in the hands of a private postpartum caretaker who will come to your house for at least the first 10 days after birth, combined with my personal background in Ayurveda for Women’s Health I had been so excited to experience the “Sacred Window” – as we call the 4th trimester in Ayurveda – myself. I was also thrilled to apply Postpartum with Ayurveda on my first client after having given birth myself. Turned out I was my own first client. Yup, the pandemic made it happen.
For the record: In the ether I wasn’t alone. The pregnancy collective I joined continued to virtually meet throughout the epidemic. And that counts for something! But the loving hands, holistic meals, nervous system soothing breath work, postpartum massages, belly binds and yoni baths. Those were coming from me and my partner.
Beforehand I felt it all: fear, anger, a sense of injustice. I even thought of moving back to the Netherlands just to have my Sacred Window the way I had imagined it.
In the end I stayed right here. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the most empowering decisions I have ever made. My baby’s 1st birthday is next month. And up until this day, whenever I feel overwhelm, I close my eyes and think back of my own hands massaging my belly with warm sesame oil whilst I align my breath with touch. I can still sense the grounding fragrance off Myrrh, Frankincense, Chamomile and Clary Sage. It brings me right back to taking one step at a time. Breath and thankfulness. Whilst being humbled by what my body is capable of. Multiplication. Creation. Life. If my body knows how to do that, it surely knows how to deal with everything else.
A remedy to Postpartum Overwhelm
Many things around the birth portal rely more on preparation than on planning. The Sacred window distinguishes from that. As a freelance mom, I made myself a schedule from baby’s birth until his 9 months’ birthday. It included recovery, meals, ceremonies, administrational things, an estimate of when I expected myself to be back at work plus a vision for my first project. I left no room for questions and unnecessary choices.
According to Ayurveda’s teachings, there are 3 main energies (“Dosha’s”) that influence your thought process and how that reflects on the body. The universal Dosha for a new mom is Vata. It correlates with intuition, flexibility, sensitivity and subtleness. It rules the ears (anyone experiencing enhanced hearing yet?, the Nervous System and causes a sense of vulnerability or overwhelm. Indecisiveness is part of it. Hence, my pre-made decisions.
DIY Postpartum Care: 8 things to help you prepare for the 4th Trimester
Here’s a list of questions to answer & things to tick off your list at least 6 weeks before your due date:
- Helping Hands: Who do you want to be with you in the first 42 days? And who will be doing what?
- Visitors: How much time will you spend with visitors? Tip: Keep it sweet, short and intimate. Ayurveda suggests to reserve the first 42 days for bonding with baby. Skin-to-skin, nursing, rocking, cuddling and sleeping. Self care is treated religiously too, because the more connected you are to yourself, the better this self can connect to and intuitively look after baby. Once bonding time is established, baby’s got a whole life in front of them to meet everyone!
- Nutrition: Probably most important: “What will you eat?”. Ayurveda teaches that you give birth to both your baby and your new self. Tip: The perfect postpartum meal is deeply nourishing, light to digest, beautifully spiced and soupy in texture. It includes the 1 grain your body naturally digests well, ghee or olive oil, bone broth, greens and/or root vegetables (but not until your number two’s have been comfortable for five consecutive days). Your spices are ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, clove, ample black pepper, star anise and minimal salt. For vegetarians tahin and hemp milk are recommended. You can reintroduce spices after week six.
- Fluids: Which herbal tea’s do you want to drink daily? Tip: Digestive and lactation support are key. Think of Fennel + Fenugreek (+ sweetener), Dashamoola and a sweet Nervine like 0.5tsp rose + 0.5tsp lavender infused with 15-20 drops of Ashwagandha tincture. Three cups a day of any tea makes it potent enough to feel the energetics work on your body.
- Touch: Get into a habit of a daily self massage with warm sesame oil to soothe the nervous system and nourish your outer immune system. From scalp to both your big toes with downward moving strokes, away from the heart.
- Best Postnatal Tummy Oil: Plain Pomegranate Seed Oil promotes cell renewal. You may add 12 drops essential oils of Clary Sage, Blue Chamomile and some Rose or Lavender into a 100ml bottle with your base oil (that will be Pomegranate).
- Breathe: Get familiar with alternated nostril breathing as your go-to nervous system release.
- Back Pain? Get a nice yoga blanket to fold and place it under your shoulders whilst you lay on the ground for a heart opener to counterbalance a hunching spine. All that rocking and nursing is hard work!
As a postpartum Doula, I probably shouldn’t be publishing this story. After all, the soul purpose of my work is providing a helping hand for birthers. But since postpartum Doula’s simply aren’t available for everyone, know that when you happen to recover from birth without one, your hands are just as healing as mine!
You’ve got this mama.
Oh, and if you’re walking out of this article with more questions, or feeling inspired to honour your 4th Trimester as that sacred window, I think you will love this virtual postpartum window prep.