We're starting off with a new blog series called, Meet the Mamas, where we will be interviewing a handful of mothers to get a glimpse of their postpartum experiences, hear some of their rituals, and receive insightful advice about early motherhood. And the first mama, we will be interviewing is Jessica Phan, our very own Co-Founder of Ritual Meals.
Meet Jessica Phan
Meet Jessica Phan, our very own Co-Founder of Ritual Meals and first time mother in San Francisco Bay Area.
Ritual Meals Co-Founder, Jessica Phan and Baby at 3 months
How many months are you postpartum?
I am 9 months into my postpartum. While it’s been months, I’m still not quite settled into my new role and body as a motherhood, however I feel like I'm getting there.
How long was your recovery after giving birth? Did you run into any challenges? What helped your recovery the most?
My recovery was a month long. After a month, my perineal area had healed and I was able to walk and lift more than 10 pounds again. Even though I had recovered, I knew I still had to be gentle with myself so that I wouldn’t undo my progress.
What helped my recovery most was:
- My Placenta Encapsulation: While there isn't strong data that placenta encapsulation helps with recovery, I can say the placebo effect helped me recover. I had a local doula, Fabienne of Fabulous Birth, create placenta pills for me using the Traditional Chinese Medicine method.
- Healing Food and Elixir Teas that my Mother-in-Law had prepared for which includes the Jujube & Goji Berry Tea and Ginger Chicken Porridge
- Rest: I slept when the baby slept. At times I struggled with this because all I wanted to do was look at baby photos that I took that morning.
What are some products or support you wished you had when you got home that first week after giving birth? What was really helpful in making your life easier as a new mom?
I wished I had some lactation and healthy snacks like the goji energy balls or the milk-making nut bombs the first week I got home after birth. Because I was breastfeeding, I was always hungry. And because I was always breastfeeding, I didn’t have time to sit down and enjoy a large meal.
For early motherhood, here are my top favorite products:
- My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow: It made breastfeeding much easier!
- A Henley Nightgown: A friend had gifted me a henley nightgown and it was by far my most used gift. It was much easier to breastfeed and tend to my perineal area after a natural childbirth.
- Magnetic Me Onesies: Another friend had gifted our baby with these magnetic onesies and it made life so much easier. It’s a little pricey, but SO worth it. With all the diaper changes during night, you’ll have more time to rest without fussing with buttons and zippers on your newborn.
What are some of your favorite self-care rituals to do postpartum?
During my postpartum ritual, I practiced the Traditional Chinese rituals where I held off on showering for a month. While I did a lemongrass and ginger sponge bath starting my second week into postpartum, it was definitely not pleasant. The first day I took my first shower after delivery, which was my 4th week into postpartum, that was my happiest day. I felt so refreshed and rejuvenated. I have to say that warm shower was my favorite self-care ritual.
I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with getting help from family or friends. Did you have help, and what was it like?What would you have done differently in terms of getting help from family or friends?
I had help from my mother-in-law. A week into postpartum, my husband and I moved into my in-laws home while she prepared a lot of Chinese Postpartum Meals and rituals and we stayed there for a month. While I’m extremely grateful for everything she has done, not being in the comfort of my own home was a bit difficult. If I could have done something differently, I would prefer to be recovering in my home.
Did you experience any baby blues or postpartum anxiety or depression? Do you have any advice for new mothers struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression?
Like many of my mama friends, I’ve shed a few tears throughout my postpartum. No one ever told me transforming into motherhood was hard. For me, it was the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. While the postpartum sadness and anxiety could be because of the imbalanced hormones, but I felt that had lost a part of myself. It wasn’t about myself anymore, nor was it just my husband and I anymore. I became a completely new person with a new set of priorities and a new mindset about life. My life was changing drastically before my eyes.
What's the worst advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
The worst advice I’ve gotten for early motherhood was “just let someone else feed the baby so you can rest.” Breastfeeding is hard and it’s not for every mother, but once you overcome the challenges of it, it’s one of the most delightful and beautiful bonding moments with your baby and it allows you to rest and recover. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin and prolactin, the two hormones that relax the mother, which also helps with uterus contraction and reduces bleeding.
What's the best advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
The best advice I’ve gotten for postpartum is from a doula that created my placenta encapsulation. On the third day of motherhood, she dropped by and told me “don’t forget to be gentle with yourself and give yourself a bit of grace.” Today, this is the one advice I share with all new mothers as well because it’s a good reminder that for me to take it easy on myself, on my body, and on my new journey as a mother.
Any closing advice for someone who's just about to be a new mom?
You are the specialist of your own body and your own child. Trust your instincts on what’s right for you and what’s right for your baby, because everyone -- every mother and every baby is different.