what to plan for your postpartum | with Leila Armour from Village for Mama
8 min read
It’s such a joy to welcome Leila back for the second time on our journal. A lot has changed since our last conversation with her (you can read it here). Leila is now a proud mama of three to a daughter and twin boys. Three months into life with her baby boys, she shares insight into how she prepared for the fourth trimester this time around and what the reality is of having twins and an older daughter in the juggle of family life. As an author, postpartum doula and nutrition consultant of Village for Mama, Leila has so much valuable knowledge to give and has generously created a nourishing recipe exclusively for biglittlethings. It is delicious and an absolute must-have sweet treat to keep on hand while you’re breastfeeding or recovering from birth.
This conversation with Leila was honest and raw, insightful and full of goodness. Let’s get started!
Firstly, congratulations on the birth of your beautiful twin boys! As this was your second pregnancy, how was your birthing experience this time around?
Thank you so much, I still can’t believe I have twins!
I had a really wonderful birth even though it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined.
I really hoped to go into spontaneous labour and accidentally birth at home but the boys had other plans.
I was induced at 41(+2) weeks. They broke my waters at 7am and I went into labour 20 minutes later. The labour was intense and powerful. I used my Tens Machine and Seasons of Mama labour comb to manage the intensity. I had such severe back labour though so I tried sterile water injections too, which were like magic!
I hopped in the bath around 5pm and my first twin Noah was born two hours later, sunny side up weighing 4.5kg. Another 48 minutes later, my second twin Joey, shot out weighing 4kg. Despite being in a hospital, I really felt like I was able to achieve somewhat of the home birth I had envisaged in a hospital setting. I was able to birth my boys naturally into water using my breath and gravity.
Can you tell us how you prepared for postpartum with twins, and then what the reality of postpartum with twins (and an older sibling) was for you and your family?
I had decided it was really important to me to honour a confinement with the twins so I had set an intention for four weeks of rest at home. I knew it would take me longer to recover from both a twin pregnancy and birth as well as adjusting to life with two babies.
“My postpartum plan was built around facilitating four weeks of doing absolutely nothing beyond resting, recovering, breastfeeding and bonding with the twins”
As a postpartum doula myself, hiring one for my postpartum with the twins was a non negotiable. This was my first experience of having a postpartum doula and it was more than I ever could have wished for. To have someone solely devoted to holding me whilst I poured everything into my babies was magic. Not only was she there to support me physically, but she was there to hold me emotionally while I transitioned from a mother of one to a mother of three.
I also wanted to make sure my daughter was looked after and fully supported while she transitioned into being a big sister to not one, but two brothers! My mum looked after her for a lot of the first four weeks. She did all the daycare drop offs, pick ups, playdates and lots of sleepovers. It was really reassuring that she was having fun, being spoiled but knew she could come home whenever she wanted.
And lastly, food! We had a meal train organised which fed me and the family for six weeks. It was absolutely incredible to be nourished by my community.
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the lack of sleep, the inability to rest or sleep and the sheer intensity of two babies. I really struggled at the day 10 mark when my hormones had really worn off and I was trying to function off two hours sleep a night.
“I could not have survived those early weeks without the extra support and meal deliveries, and I was so grateful to have put those things in place”
Now over three months into your journey with twins, can you tell us what is one thing that surprised you during the fourth trimester?
How little rest was actually possible with twins and how much more important that made support and nourishment for the early weeks. I feel like I recovered really well despite having very limited rest and that was all because of the amazing help and nourishing meals.
“I think it takes time to realise it isn’t just double the work with two babies, you have two completely individual babies and it is like living in two worlds at the same time. It is the hardest and most wonderful thing I have done”
What is your top piece of advice for mamas-to-be preparing for their postpartum?
To actually plan your postpartum. I think it is so easy to feel like you have learned loads from social media, other mothers and even your own experience. We can think that next time around you will do postpartum better. The reality is that the foundation of a positive postpartum is support and it is your support system that needs guidance.
“By planning your postpartum and acknowledging how you intend to rest, recover and nourish your body, you can outsource and delegate to your support system and actually reap the benefits”
As part of your planning, organise a meal train. It is such a simple way to gather your support network and ensure you and your family are fed!
Are there any particular types of foods that new mamas should be nourishing their bodies with after birth?
When it comes to postpartum nourishment, warm, easy to digest and nutrient dense are the golden three recommendations. Lots of nourishing broths, grounding vegetables, healing herbs and spices. It is really important for new mums to be both eating and drinking enough to support not only their recovery but their breastfeeding journey too. My favourite postpartum meals were brothy soups, congee, black rice porridge and warming chai.
“A combination of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats are essential for supporting recovery”
In this current season of life, what has self-care looked like for you, especially in the months after birth?
Magnesium baths and breast massage. I have such limited time for self care to be honest! But we give so much as mamas, we need to do something for ourselves to recharge. In the early weeks we would bath the boys with magnesium salts every night. Then while my husband dressed them, I would add some more salts and have a five minute soak and reset before tackling the night shift (it’s the little things right?!)
I started a ritual of breast massage towards the end of my pregnancy before I would antenatally express colostrum. I would use the Mammae Bosom Elixir and really check in with myself. This ritual came through into postpartum with me too. I felt like I could really justify these moments of self care and love because it supported my breastfeeding journey and supply (it’s no small feat nourishing two babies).
We would love to hear the inspiration behind the recipe that you have created exclusively for us at biglittlethings and what your favourite recipe is in your book Village for Mama?
You can never have too many sweet treats on hand postpartum. Beetroot is amazing for building blood, which is often depleted following birth. So these brownies are the perfect nourishing treat for supporting postpartum recovery.
EXCLUSIVE FOR BIGLITTLETHINGS READERS
Beetroot and Macadamia Brownies
180g dark chocolate
80g ghee or butter
250g cooked beetroot (roasted, boiled or store bought)
3 large free range eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup raw macadamias, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced. Grease and line a square slice tin.
In a double boiler add the chocolate and ghee. Stir until completely melted then remove from heat.
Add the beetroot, eggs, maple, almond meal and baking powder to a blender. Blend to combine then add the melted chocolate mix and blend for a further 10 seconds. Stir through the macadamias.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20-30 minutes. Check the mixture is cooked through by inserting a knife into the centre. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin and slicing. Enjoy!
Can be stored in fridge for up to 5 days. Add more maple syrup to the recipe if you have a sweet tooth.
To wrap up, what have been your must-have biglittlethings products for this pregnancy and postpartum period with the twins?
Bare Mum Postpartum Briefs - these are a non negotiable. A twin belly post birth needs to be held tight and these buttery soft briefs not only hold everything in but they don’t dig in around the edges. I never wanted to take them off.
Mammae Bosom Ritual Elixir - this was the first time I incorporated breast massage into my pregnancy and postpartum and it made such a difference to my feeding journey. This elixir with lactation supporting herbs is magic.
Bare Mum Skin & Scar Oil - I couldn't believe the difference in my stretched belly after using this oil twice a day for six weeks. It not only feels and smells amazing but drastically reduced my stretch marks.
And I have to add that a meal train is THE most valuable postpartum resource. It was so nice to have my village cook recipes for me from my book. I wrote it after I had my daughter so this was my first experience of using Village for Mama and it made me so proud of what I have created. It is such a game changer to have a meal train and to be delivered nourishing meals the whole family can enjoy.