During pregnancy, women spend nine months tending to their baby鈥檚 every need. Some get a little R+R on a babymoon, and others treat themselves to a killer postpartum exercise routine. But for lots of ladies, it鈥檚 hard to get a break during the first few sleepless months of motherhood. MotherBees founder and mama wellness expert Heng Ou thinks that鈥檚 a mistake, and she shared with us why this time period is so important for moms.

Mom and Baby

Western countries often don鈥檛 give women enough time to physically and emotionally heal after childbirth. 鈥淭here are a lot of career-driven women these days, and we have a lot more on our minds,鈥 Heng says. 鈥淚f you don鈥檛 have that care, a mom can hormonally shift into a place of loneliness and a place of being lost.鈥 According to advocacy group Postpartum Progress, one in seven women struggle with postpartum depression.

forty

Her new book, The First Forty Days, offers ways to better care for yourself and your infant. Drawing from zuo yuezi, the Chinese practice of postpartum rest and confinement, she shares recipes and thoughtful tips for supporting the needs of new moms. Keep scrolling for her advice on blissfully welcoming motherhood.

How to Have the Happiest Postpartum Ever

Mom and Baby at Table

1. Practice saying no. Physically and hormonally, you鈥檝e got a lot going on right now. 鈥淭his overwhelming feeling will happen, and it鈥檚 natural,鈥 Heng says. That means it鈥檚 your prerogative to stay at home totally absorbed in your new life. 鈥淭he best thing to do is keep yourself in a place of happiness and joy, and practice that before you give birth,鈥 she says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 okay to say no, thank you to the ones that aren鈥檛 bringing you that same joy. 鈥

2. Put a little money aside. With you (and probably your partner) taking time off from work, finances can get tight. Heng recommends saving what you can earlier in the pregnancy to avoid any unnecessary stress. Free up extra cash for unexpected expenses.

Nourishing Food

3. Stock up on food. Preparing meals when you鈥檙e tired and stretched thin is the last thing you should be doing as a new mom. 鈥淵our adrenaline is completely depleted, and if you don鈥檛 have that nourishing food, you go through a deep sadness,鈥 Heng says. Stock your freezer with nourishing soups and stews to have on hand before giving birth. Keep healthy fats on hand 鈥 like salmon, nuts and avocados 鈥 for when you need a snack.

4. Get some outside help. Think of postpartum as your fourth trimester. Now your cuddly baby is in the world, but you still have to take care of yourself. In zuo yuezi, a family member or close friend moves in with the couple to make food and take care of the family. For Heng, her aunt was always in the kitchen churning out batches of porridge and warm broth after her first child was born. 鈥淭he smell from the kitchen was comforting to me,鈥 she says. 鈥淎ll I had to do is lay here.鈥 Even if this model doesn鈥檛 work for your family, consider hiring someone to clean the house or watch your other children while you鈥檙e getting the hang of things.

Receiving Food

5. Improve communication with your partner. 鈥淟ook inside yourself before you make a quick judgment or an outward statement,鈥 Heng says. When both of you are tired and hungry, arguments are bound to arise. Before the baby comes, practice effective listening. Diffusing conflict helps you to better support one another. 鈥淒evelop some languages with your partner to let them know you need some help right now,鈥 she says.

Share how you welcomed your bundle of joy @BritandCo!

(Photos via MotherBees)