How I Cherished My Postpartum Mind And Body

newborn-postpartum-maternity-mom-photoI can’t believe it’s almost been one month since Baby D was born. Like any mother can tell you, it flew by in a sleep-deprived but joyous blur. When I had my two daughters in my mid 20’s, I didn’t understand the value and meaning of postpartum care and did too much too fast, including cleaning my house immediately upon returning from the hospital and caring for a newborn without much help. This was a bad idea. This, along with sleep deprivation, lack of support and self-awareness, ultimately led to postpartum depression when my second daughter was only around 2-3 months of age.

It was a valuable life lesson for me, one that taught me that I’m not a superwoman and that I’m not invincible to issues like baby blues and depression. I also learned the importance of taking care of myself and my physical and mental well-being so I can be the best version of mother to my children.

It was a valuable life lesson for me, one that taught me that I’m not a superwoman and that I’m not invincible to issues like baby blues and depression. I also learned the importance of taking care of myself and my physical and mental well-being so I can be the best version of mother to my children.

So this third time around I vowed to take care of myself during and after the pregnancy, and really cherish my body and mind. I followed the traditional *Asian postpartum method (more on this below if you’re interested) where I don’t leave home for 3-4 weeks and not partake in any strenuous activities and house chores.

I also spent a lot of time meditating and being fully present in the moment. I resisted the urge to “do too much” and really just focused on myself and the baby without controlling other aspects of my home life. I allowed others to take care of most of the household duties and just focused on bonding with my kids.

For the first time in three postpartum experiences, I feel refreshed and recharged despite not being able to sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time. I also feel mentally and emotionally prepared for the challenges awaiting me as a mother of three children.

Here are some things I followed during my first month of the postpartum period. These are my personal experiences that may or may not work for you, but I hope you can find it useful.

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1. Lots of skin-to-skin & heart-to-heart contact

The first few weeks consisted of non-stop feeding, diaper changing and holding the newborn close to my chest. Skin-to-skin contact is especially important in the early weeks so I spent as much time as I can holding him close to my beating heart, making sure our left chest was physically touching each other.

This calmed us immediately and I can instinctively feel the love being exchanged between us two, not just physically but metaphysically as if we always existed in this universe together as one. It also made me feel centered and restored. It’s really hard to explain this supernatural and maternal feeling but I know other mothers know what I’m talking about. It’s such a blessing to be able to experience this once again, this time with a son.

2. Eating healthy and drinking plenty of fluids

I spent the first month eating super healthy foods like fish, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, soups, etc. with plenty of liquids like water, herbal tea and mother’s milk tea for milk production. I didn’t indulge on greasy foods, alcohol or coffee for the first three weeks and only consumed home cooked meals made from fresh ingredients.

I mostly focused on eating healthy for myself and the baby, my primary concern being producing good quality milk for the baby. This was no time for dieting and trying to lose weight. I remembered to take all my prenatal vitamins, iron and lactation pills. I continued to drink herbal tea that is customized for postpartum mothers.

3. Using help for house chores and older kids

This time I was fortunate enough to have postpartum help for the first month. This is luxury I couldn’t afford with my first two babies and for this I’m very grateful. My husband runs his own business which means he can’t get many days off work, so I knew I needed the extra help and company. This time I saw this not only as luxury but as a necessity because it was essential that I avoid postpartum depression and anxiety for the sake of myself and the family.

Thanks to my mom and hired postpartum help who assisted with meal prep, cooking, housekeeping and childcare for my older kids, I was able to manage a household of three kids and two dogs without feeling overwhelmed. I have to say, this made a huge difference on my mental and physical well-being and I was able to recover much quicker with less stress. In fact, I managed the entire 4 weeks without any weepiness or sadness, which is a first!

I truly believe in the importance of postpartum care and company as it can make or break your entire postpartum experience. Our bodies and minds are very vulnerable and susceptible to various difficulties at this time and it’s crucial that we take care of ourselves first and foremost. I don’t use regular nannies or childcare but made sure to put aside money for postpartum help because I knew it’s worth the investment if it can make my transition to motherhood easier.

4. Being fully present  + meditation

As a blogger and mother of three, I had many things to do even during the postpartum recovery period. I had numerous work emails to respond to, many blog posts to work on, appointments to arrange and back-to-school lists to tend to, just to name some. Just thinking about these things gave me anxiety, as if I was somehow falling behind in my responsibilities by simply resting and bonding with my newborn.

Whenever feelings of anxiety and worry overwhelmed me, I reminded myself to be fully present in the moment. I didn’t worry about what I have to do tomorrow or the day after, and instead focused on the sounds of my baby’s soft breath, the feelings of his tiny hands and feet, the way he suckles at my breasts, the way he smells of baby soap and breastmilk.

Whenever feelings of anxiety and worry overwhelmed me, I reminded myself to be fully present in the moment. I didn’t worry about what I have to do tomorrow or the day after, and instead focused on the sounds of my baby’s soft breath, the feelings of his tiny hands and feet, the way he suckles at my breasts, the way he smells of baby soap and breastmilk.

I read the scripture and tried to stay in constant prayer and meditation. I also spent a lot of quiet time with soft music to create a calm and spiritual atmosphere for myself and the baby. These tools helped me to tune out the noise and distractions around me and really soak in the moment with my newborn.

Meditation helped me to remember the miracles of childbirth, the power of my female body and the beauty of connection between mother and child. During this time, nothing else mattered and I felt fully present in the moment.

Meditation helped me to remember the miracles of childbirth, the power of my female body and the beauty of connection between mother and child. During this time, nothing else mattered and I felt fully present in the moment.

I just spent the most tiring and physically challenging month of my life with three kids. Yet it was the most joyous and blessed time, one I know I will cherish for a lifetime. In the end, what made all the difference was my willingness to take care of my mind and body, ask for help, follow a healthy diet and be fully present in the moment.

What do you think about the above methods of postpartum care? Did you cherish your postpartum mind and body? How do you wish to spend the first month of your child’s life?


*A note on Asian postpartum care

Asian tradition believes in the long term effects of postpartum care or there lack of, and claims that this is one of the most crucial time of a woman’s life where she can greatly improve or decline her health for many years to come.  

Asian medicine claims that after childbirth, a woman’s body is most susceptible to various environmental factors such as airborne diseases, virus, cold weather and cold foods. Our bodies go through many changes while preparing for childbirth, which includes providing our babies with crucial nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamins for their hair, teeth, bones, joints etc. This means many essential nutrients are taken away from the mother. Therefore, postpartum period is an important time for the mother to nourish her body with extra nutrients and restore her bones and joints back to health.

On a brighter note, Asian medicine further claims that if the mother takes care of herself well during postpartum, she can rid herself of the various illnesses and weaknesses of her pre-pregnancy body. She can even improve her health after having the baby. Great news for mothers, right?

For this reason, you will see many Asian women avoiding contact with the outside world for at least 3-4 weeks so they can stay home and take care of their body. During this time they rely on others to take over all the cooking, dishes and housework for the family while the mother focuses on nursing herself back to health. They are instructed to wear long sleeves and socks even during the warmest summers and to protect their body from cold air to avoid it seeping into their open bones and joints. They eat plenty of warm soups made of seaweed and beef broth and sip on warm herbal tea to regulate their body temperature and hormones.

I didn’t follow above rules to a tee because I felt it’s unnecessary especially in middle of the August heat in Southern California. However, I followed most of them and do believe in its healing and restorative powers. 

If you liked this post or found it helpful, please support this blog by sharing this post or pinning the image below. Thank you! 

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Photos by Esther Sun Photography 

Angela
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20 thoughts on “How I Cherished My Postpartum Mind And Body

  1. Amy

    Your photos are so precious, Angela. I enjoyed reading about your journey with newborns and how you’re overcoming postpartum. I’m practicing many of these tips myself and have seen a big difference, especially when I take time for myself. Thank you for this!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      Thank you Amy. Glad you can relate to my journey. I’m definitely seeing a huge difference this time and want to let other mothers know to take it easy. We’ve already done so much as mothers and wives. 🙂

  2. Siedah

    Beautiful. I suffer from depression so my doctor informed that I can experience postpartum and I may not. I am glad I read your blog. Thank you for sharing. xo

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      Then even more reasons to take it easy! I think I had depressive traits but never realized I can get postpartum depression. When I had it it was the worst and I hated not having control over it. Today though, I have a different outlook and take it one day at a time. Best of luck, at least you seem very aware unlike I was at the time.

  3. JeeYoung W

    Beautiful mama. I definitely listened to most of my mom’s advice about taking care of my post partum body. I ate miyukgook like it was my job. 🙂 I’m glad for it now. I can’t even imagine the aches and pains I’d have if I hadn’t followed her advice.

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      I think miyukgook really works! I’m a month in and still eating it, at least once a day. Who knew our mamas were right all this time? lol. I really do think the Asian postpartum method works for our bodies. It’s the only time we are taken care of by others and it felt great. I hope I don’t get aches and pains years down the line..

  4. Suzanne Hines

    I seriously love this post!!! With my first, I thought I had to beat the Joneses and be fully recovered and looking amazing as soon as possible. I felt fine, and so I got up and did things. Plus…I’m totally a doer. I’m not the type to lay around, pregnant, postpartum or not. But this time I’m really going to force myself to stay in bed as much as possible and let others do the work. And skin to skin. I need to do that more. Thanks for these amazing tips!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      I’m like you, a total doer. I have trouble just laying around not doing anything because I always feel like there’s something to do, something to clean, something to organize, something to buy. This time I really made a conscious effort to take it slowly because I realized my body needs to recover and be babied. Are you currently expecting? If so, congratulations and yes, be kind to your postpartum body! It makes all the difference.

  5. Vanessa

    So perfect! I’m so glad you took time to really enjoy your baby during those first few weeks. It’s so important for both mama and baby. Hang in there, mama!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 2.5 months mean you’re still in postpartum, hope you’re taking care of your body and mind even though I know it can be hard. #4 is a must, without it, I’d be so overwhelmed!

  6. val

    I’m so happy your experience with your 3rd was great! There’s something to be said about gaining confidence and wisdom with each baby. These are great tips!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      I agree. I certainly didn’t have this kind of confidence and wisdom with my first two. We learn as we grow, I guess. I’m thankful for this opportunity to experience pregnancy and postpartum again from a new perspective. Thanks for reading!

  7. Samantha

    These are all wonderful tips! I’m so glad to have discovered you blog during this time in my life. I feel like I’m learning so much from you and your experiences. Thanks for the inspiration and helpful tips! Keep ’em coming!!

  8. Audrey

    Hi I rad ur PPD story and cried cos this is what I went thru 8 years ago and now I am going thru again. This time round the psycharist told me I am on the lower spectrum hence no need for antidepressant but gave me anxiety pills. Am seeing a psychologist now. For me the confinement period was bad – I am Asian. I ordered confinement food not go out a mth but i didn’t hire help and was cleaning the house taking care of boys and it was bad! I kept up with the I can do it all appearance but I lost it. I knew I needed help this time cos of past experience. Now I am on therapy (which is a big stigma in my society) and relying on mil and mum to help out.

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      I know how hard it can be especially in the Asian culture but know you’re doing what’s best for yourself and the baby by taking care of yourself! It’s hard to do everything yourself–the recovery, the baby, taking care of older siblings, cooking, etc. Don’t think you have to do it all because our parents’ generation did too. Motherhood is much more empowering and connected in this generation. I wish you the best!

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