By Belinda Falconar
Becoming a new mother is a time of great change, transition and possible transformation. Amazing changes take place during pregnancy with new life growing inside you. Your body is being stretched to its limits, along with your mind and spirit. Our focus tends to become more inward and nurturing – and it’s this time that lends us to make new inspired health choices that benefit our baby and our family long term – as we prepare to protect and provide in our new role as a parent.
As a holistic health practitioner specialising in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I have worked with women helping to reduce their exposure to toxic elements and improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. The transitional stages of life such as beginning menstruation, childbirth and menopause are all opportunities to transform your health. If you nurture and nourish yourself well, often health issues that you previously experienced can heal and resolve. Below is some of the advice I offer my patients who are going through the wonderful life transition of parenthood.
Pregnancy and new life as a parent is the ideal time to start rethinking about the daily chemicals and toxins which the body absorbs straight into the bloodstream. Many women feel wonderfully well when they are pregnant, especially in the second and third trimesters. It’s all the extra blood and Qi or energy that courses through the body to support the growing baby. If we can catch that wellness wave and make the most of it, we will be happier, healthier and well-resourced mothers and women. Here are some easy ways to improve outcomes for mum and the health of the child:
- Take time for you and your partner to improve health 3-6 months before conception. A good detox will ensure that accumulated toxins won’t be transferred to the baby.
- Take high quality pregnancy multivitamins before conception, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. I also recommend daily probiotics and fish oil.
Preparing for Baby
In preparation for welcoming baby, we do our nesting and collecting of all the things the little person might need. There are many new decisions to be made. I notice that many mothers-to-be are instinctively making healthy choices for their baby: merino and cotton versus synthetics, cots with natural unstained timber, creams and shampoo with no toxic nasties and so on.
- Keep it simple! There are so many products out there it can be a bit daunting. Just get the basics and you can get the nice-to-haves later, if your budget allows.
- Buy good quality secondhand baby clothes and gear…they use them for such a short time. Make a wish list for your family and friends for items for the baby.
- Take a few weeks off before the birth just to have a rest and precious time to yourself while you can. Be well resourced, ready and calm to let nature take its course.
- Acupuncture 4-6 weeks before the birth is very helpful in preparation for labour – preparing body and mind for the birth. Acupuncture helps soften the cervix and relax muscles and ligaments.
The postpartum period is also incredibly important. The new mum will need lots of support and nurturing. In Chinese culture, women have a lying in period of six weeks, called the Golden Month. The extended family brings nourishing food and does the housework so she can just rest and care for the baby. I did this for my daughter when she had her wee boy earlier this year. It can be a fantastic experience for a grandmother too!
If you can’t have your mother as part of the Golden Month, preparing as much as possible to make your life easier while you bond with baby is a must.
- Making food and freeze meals.
- Hire a cleaner and out-source laundry.
- Ask for help from family and friends.
- Don’t do too much at this time…make feeding, resting and eating your main priorities.
- It takes at least 6 weeks for your uterus to heal properly and reduce to its usual size…so no vigorous exercise, heavy lifting or intercourse during this period.