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Education, support and advocacy for birth and wellness choices across Hawai'i

Caring for our Postpartum ‘Ohana 

“Remembering the ways to show up” 

Postpartum is defined as “the time following childbirth”. This phase is also known as the fourth trimester, lasting at least 3 months after birth. It is an essential time that supports healing, lifelong health and emotional connection. Every culture cares for their families uniquely, here are some ways you can show up.  It’s important that our extended families and community re-learn how to care for our people during this time. We hope that this list helps. 

Bring a nourishing meal- 

  • Nutrition- Whole foods with local veggies and fruits, stews, soups and easily digestible meals. Grains, proteins and good fats. 
  • Low saturated sugars help reduce infection, and blood sugar spikes. 
  • High protein-Poultry, red meat, fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
  • Try to eat a rainbow of colors. Foods with different pigments have more nutrients and vitamins available. 
  • Ask if you can pick up some groceries, and pantry essentials 
  • Bring enough for the whole family if you can
  • Label and date food so it's easy to use
  • Check out our list of recipes

Support hydration

  • Make sure moms/they have a designated glass or reusable bottle that is filled with water throughout the day. Especially one at the bedside so moms/they minimize getting up in the first week. . 

  • Herbal teas- no caffeine, good for breast milk supply, nutritive herbs (recipes below)

  • Electrolytes - pinch of sea salt in water with a squeeze of citrus, cell salt drops etc. 

  • Coconut water 

Help with home care- Fold laundry, or start a load. Take out the trash, or do the dishes. Cleaning the fridge, organizing and removing the older items can be really helpful. Simple chores for us to do make a huge impact on families and the home enviroment during this time. 

Listen patiently- Let the family share their experience, going through whatever emotions come up for them. Just listen, gently offering reassurance and validation. Don’t process your past experiences, talking about what you may have gone through and not hear their story. You can recommend them to write down their birth story to have later on. 

Support rest- When visiting don’t overstay, don’t expect entertaining. Make sure they feel free to excuse themselves for a nap or to feed the baby. Sleep deprivation makes everything more difficult, even just having a conversation. 

Reduce drama- Leave the outside world and additional stress at the door when visiting. Emotions and capacity are fragile these first few weeks in the home. Instead, try talking about the baby, asking if the family needs anything, ask how they are really doing or how their birth experience was. Keep the environment sweet and simple, the family has enough on their plate with the new baby.

Take older keiki on an adventure- This allows time for parents to focus on the new baby and rest. While also giving the older kids attention that they may be missing with the new addition in the home. Try to schedule a weekly outing, that way the parents can rely on and make a plan for that time and space. 

Support feeding and routine- Feeding a baby can be overwhelming until a routine starts to form. There can be pain, tears, and frustration. Give space for everyone to figure out their best routine and setup. You can make sure the nursing parent is in a comfortable position and has a lot of pillow support. As well as a glass of water near them.  Remember that everyone will feed their baby differently, a “fed baby is best”.  (Check out our directory listings for lactation consultants if needed). 

Support baby wearing- Keeping the baby on the birthing person helps to support babies temperature, heart rate, emotional wellbeing and so much more. Skin to skin also helps reduce the parents anxiety, helps with transition and aids in digestion. There are many options for baby carriers, depending on the size and weight of the baby. Check out the website for more information. 

Support outside time- Fresh air and sunlight can help with mood and healing. Ask when is the last time they left the indoors, and help them to have a comfortable place for some outside time. This does not mean running an errand or going to the park. Just sitting under a tree in the yard for a few minutes can help emotions immensely. 

Support self care- Ask if you can help with the baby as parents take a shower, eat a meal, or even take a nap. Maybe you can help them get some body work done. (Check out our directory listings for amazing practitioners). 

Health awareness- Make sure your clothes are clean, your hands are washed when entering the home. Don't kiss the baby's face. Practice health awareness, please visit another time if anyone in your immediate family is sick. The family will understand and appreciate this care.

Support healing- Each birth looks different, from cesarean to vaginal births. Every birth needs help with healing and care.

Vaginal Births

  • Sitz baths and Yoni steams can be soothing 

  • No lifting anything heavier than the baby 

  • Frozen pads with witch hazel prepped in the freezer (check out recipes) 

  • Skinned aloe filet prepped in a tupperware in the fridge. These can be applied to pads for healing. 

  • Some cultures practice “closing the bones” ceremony 

Cesarean Births- 

  • Warm water bottle or heating pad for their belly

  • No lifting anything heavier than the baby 

  • Eating fiber rich foods that support digestion

Be informed about baby blues and postpartum depression-

(Check out our webpage for additional information on this topic)

  • Baby Blues-Many new moms have irritability, sadness, crying, or anxiety, beginning within the first several days after delivery. These baby blues are very common and may be related to physical changes (including hormonal changes, exhaustion, and unexpected birth experiences) and the emotional transition as you adjust to changing roles and your new baby. Baby blues usually go away within 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Postpartum Depression- More serious and longer lasting than the baby blues, this condition may cause mood swings, anxiety, guilt, and persistent sadness. PPD can be diagnosed up to a year after giving birth, and it's more common in people with a history of depression, multiple life stressors, and a family history of depression. 1 in 10 fathers/partners also report experiencing PPD.

Call in Outside Support

  • Check out our extensive list of Postpartum doulas. Pacific Birth Collective even has a program for low income families to qualify for birth and postpartum doula care. 
  • Check out our lactation support list. 
  • Set up a Body Work appointment (check out our directory)
  • If concerned with PP blues or depression, make sure to have them call their doctor. Also check out our page on postpartum depression and baby blues. 
Other ideas
  • Set up a Meal train (more information and links on website)
  • Help set up a bedside “care box”- Include a reusable bottle of water, protein bar, wet wipes, burp cloths, extra diapers, diaper rash salve or cream, cord care kit, a simple light that can be found in the dark and easily turned on. This box can make all the difference in the middle of the night, or being in bed with a napping baby on you. 
  • Recommend joining a monthly postpartum support group or circle (find more information on our calendar) 
  • At the baby shower set up an option to financially pitch-in for a postpartum doula or body work. 

Book Recommendations -

  • The First Forty Days "The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother" by Heng Ou
  • After The Baby's Birth "A Complete Guide for Postpartum Women" by Robin Lim  

    Education, Support, and Advocacy for Birth and Wellness Choices Across Hawai'i

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    Updated 9-1-22

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