The female body is an incredible thing. At its creation, the woman’s body was uniquely designed to develop, carry, and deliver new life. It was chosen to have an intricate relationship with the growing baby inside. They are beautifully woven together in a process that ignites an attachment rooted in the fabric of their being. Pregnancy is just mind-blowing.
But what happens when our bodies turn against us? What about when they refuse to function in the way they were designed? As a result of the fall of man and the introduction of brokenness, not an inch of creation was left untarnished – including our physical beings and our relationships with ourselves and one another. But God, in all His goodness, has not left us in our barrenness and has created avenues of healing and grace to remind us of His faithfulness and enduring love in all of life.
I’m often asked about the practical things that can be done for women in their seasons of postpartum healing, especially when depression/anxiety is present. The following is just a few of the things that I recommend to all of my doula clients as well as to those struggling with postpartum issues:
St. John’s Wort – The flowers of the St. John’s Wort (SJW) blooms are have been used to create teas, oils, and liquid tincture as far back as the Ancient Greeks. It is also available tablet and capsule pill form. SJW has been studied extensively and has been found to aid minor to moderate depression. A 2016 study found that ‘St. John’s Wort monotherapy for mild and moderate depression is superior to placebo in improving depression symptoms and not significantly different from antidepressant medication’. Apart from all the super-sciencey backup, it just worked for me. It was one of the only supplements I took that had a noticeable effect on my gloom. It is my number 1 recommendation and is a vital component of any Postpartum Survival Kit. Get yours here or at any health food store.
Vitamin D – AKA “The Sunshine Vitamin”. The happy vitamin. The reason we are told to get outside when we are feeling blue, Vitamin D is created naturally in our bodies when exposed to direct sunlight. Research has shown that Vitamin D helps to regulate mood and might help deter feelings of depression. Vitamin D is readily available anywhere supplements and vitamins are sold, or you can get some here.
Fish Oil – It is believed that good quality Fish Oil supplements can aid in the treatment of depression symptoms due to the brain support of Omega-3 Fatty Acids richly present in Fish Oil. The EPA and DHA likely at low levels for those struggling with depression are supplemented by their natural presence in Fish Oil. This supplement is also available basically anywhere medication/vitamins are sold and is generally very affordable. Or you can grab it right here.
Sister Circle – I wish I could link you to this one. I pray that there is a circle of close friends/family surrounding those in the Postpartum healing season. It is, perhaps, the most vital aspect of surviving the weeks/months following pregnancy. We need people who will commit to serve and support and stay involved for the long haul. Know your people. They must be loyal confidants; ones who will hear and pray, who will value the season and validate the struggle, who will enjoy and honor the blessing it is to be close. They are out there! Find your people. Make it formal if you need to and ask them to engage and to be near. Or if you are “the people”, make it clear that you are in it with your sister and that you intend to be available for as much or as little as needed, even if she is afraid to ask. This is an extremely vulnerable stage. Respect it or make room for someone who will.
As a woman who has gone through this phase a literal handful of times and as a doula whose heart jumps/melts/explodes with every pregnancy and delivery I have to privilege to participate in, I am always aware of the emotional well-being of women in the postpartum season. I say ‘season’ intentionally because it isn’t measurable. It isn’t always a ‘4th trimester’ that will be over in 12 weeks. It could be! It could be less… it could be WAY more. Or it could be a hell of a rough 12 weeks! It’s all over the place. It’s personal. It’s unique and it’s real.
I hope this is helpful. I know it’s not an exhaustive list or “Ultimate Guide to Postpartum Healing”. But it is a place to start. It’s a good next step when no one is quite sure what to do or how to help or just need a practical way to come alongside a loved one walking this path.
I love you all.
I’d love to hear what was helpful for you! Please leave a comment with other ideas or resources you love to recommend.
*This post contains affiliate links to the recommended products. As an Amazon Associate I earn a teensy percentage from qualifying purchases made through the links, but please feel no pressure to use them. 🙂