The time after you've given birth is a period of time unlike any other that a woman will have in her entire life. A minimum of 40 days, (although Ayurveda says three years!) should be taken to heal physically both internally and externally, emotionally and yes spiritually too. Your baby settles into your new life, your family and you take the time to wind up the drawbridge, hunker down and DEVOTE TIME to yourselves. It's an intense time, emotions run high, huge changes are going down and it deserves space.
In other cultures round the world this time of adjustment and healing is honoured in different ways. Birth is demanding of everything a woman has to give and can often leave her depleted. It's important that the whole family and society knows this, recognises it and rallies together to offload as many of her responsibilities as possible so she can focus on her baby, and herself. What does this mean? Well, it means feeding her. Doulas mother the mother. We feed the baby by feeding HER. Helping her to rest rest rest. Nurture her, listen to her, hug her and make her feel like a bit of a goddess really.
One beautiful little treat for a postpartum mum, is to take a healing herbal bath. If she has birthed vaginally she can bath like this right away after birth, if she's had a c-section it might be worth just checking with your midwife as to when you can soak your scar as it will need dryness for a while. These baths are incredibly healing for your perineum and can help reduce swelling and pain. They're also super relaxing and if you bath with your baby they are not only going to help with healing baby's cord stump, but they're such a beautiful bonding experience for you both...hello Oxytocin rushes...and therefore hello loads of lovely breast milk. Everyone's happy.
2 cups Epsom Salts/Magnesium Sulphate - anti-inflammatory, improves circulation, regulates fluid retention, soothes aching muscles and regulates blood sugar
1 cup dried Marigold - a natural antiseptic, promotes wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties
1 cup dried Chamomile - calming, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory
1 cup Rose petals - rose petals are an astringent, i.e help skin cells to contract so can be used to staunch bleeding from cuts, sensual sexy and evoke the spirit of lurve in your heart and mind.
1 cup Lavender - promotes relaxation, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. NOTE: Dried lavender for if bathing with your baby. If bathing alone you can add 2-3 drops of your essential oil if you like.
Above are the ingredients I picked up to make a lovely herbal bath but you can be creative and make your own blend really easily. Other ingredient ideas to mix and match are:
- Dried comfrey leaves - high in calcium and Vit C. Sometimes called 'knitbone' for its wound healing abilities
- Garlic cloves - potent medicinal properties, boosts immune system and contains lots of antioxidants.
- Dried red raspberry - an all round pre and postnatal winner. Astringent properties, high in antioxidants, Vit C and magnesium which helps with cramps and improving sleep (to name a few)
- Dried yarrow flowers - an ancient wound healer, promotes better circulation and fluid retention.
- Dried dandelion - increases iron absorption, rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and boosts immune system
- Ginger - relieves muscle pain and soreness, powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Willow bark - reduces tension, soothes muscle pain
- Tea tree oil/ Melaleuca - a natural anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial
- Witch Hazel - a powerful astringent, old remedy for skin irritations, swelling, itching, bruising
- Sea Salt - rich in trace minerals, source of electrolytes, aids digestion
- Rosemary - anti-inflammatory, a good analgesic and boosts digestion. Plus it smells amazing...
I basically just mixed up my chosen herbs in a giant bowl and stored them in a big cotton drawstring bag ready for sprinkling into my bath when the time comes.
For a more intensely healing perineal soak, just place the herbs in the bath and cover with hot water only and leave to steep for 5 min. Some Melaleuca or witch hazel and sea salt can be nice here.
Add cold water until your shallow bath is ready. The less water, the more concentrated the herb water will be of course.
Sit and soak perineal area for 10 minutes or as long as you are comfortable.
For birth workers or family members, it's a super cute idea to parcel up little muslin squares with a few teaspoons of the herbs in the middle all tied up with ribbon as a gift for a new mother.