Supplements For Postpartum Complaints

Giving birth can be both a joyous and stressful occasion. Elizabeth Burch, N.D., of the Eclectic Institute in Portland, Ore., offers the following suggestions to ease the transition into motherhood.

Afterpains — These are normal occurrences in the first few days following the birth as the uterus contracts to stop bleeding and return itself to a normal size and shape.

To ease afterpains, take calcium/magnesium supplements (1,000 mg of calcium, 500 mg of magnesium); crampbark or blackhaw tea — extract or capsules (follow label dosing instructions); valerian for sleeping problems.

Breast engorgement — Swollen, painful breasts the first 24 to 48 hours following birth are common as the body begins to produce breast milk.

Alleviate breast engorgement by nursing your baby every two to three hours during the first few days.

Milk flow problems — New mothers often struggle with breastfeeding initially, or they fear not being able to produce enough milk to meet their baby's needs.

To induce milk flow, relax and make yourself comfortable, drink plenty of noncaffeinated beverages, sip chamomile tea, continue taking prenatal vitamins and avoid excessive weight loss. Consult with a health care provider about the use of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecun), mother's milk tea or chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus castus).

Postpartum depression or "baby blues"— After birth, rapid changes in body chemistry can cause a woman to experience fatigue, crying, insomnia, anger or anxiety; typically resolves in two to three weeks.

Deal with depression by getting adequate rest and eating a healthy diet. Ask family members and friends for help; seek advice from your health care provider if not resolving.