Postpartum is such a sacred time. Whether it’s your first baby, or your fifth, taking the time to allow for healing postpartum is the number one most essential thing.
With my first two babies, I felt this need to get out and about, and to bounce back really fast. I was out and at coffee shops within the first 2-3 days of their birth. I’ve since learned that this can be harmful than it is even remotely worth.
After you’ve birthed your baby, you will inevitably be incredibly sore — whether you have an unmedicated birth, vaginal, or c-section… your body does immensely hard work during labor and birth. Not only whole-body soreness, but in the case that there are stitches (vaginally or cesarean), your body needs ample time to physically heal from those wounds. And! You will also have a very large wound inside your uterus from where your placenta was attached, and then detached. Thus creating a dinner-plate-sized wound inside your womb. Your body will also continue to contract so that your uterus shrinks back down to it’s normal size, back below your pelvis. Nipples may also be incredibly sore depending on baby’s latch, or you may have sore breasts from milk engorgement.
REST is of the utmost importance postpartum. It is truly imperative.
For my last two births, I’ve taken on the 5-5-5 rule as best as I’ve been able to.
5 days in bed: laying down, sleeping, nursing on-demand, skin-to-skin with baby, allowing your body the rest it needs to heal those physical wounds and prioritizing you and your baby’s first days together. Only getting up and out for going to the bathroom (this is also very important! do not try to hold it or skip it!), showering, or getting food if it cannot be brought to you. I know it seems unrealistic, especially if you do not have family nearby. My husband did not get any paternity leave (or paid time off), but he was able to work from home, and then my mom flew in for 5 days as well. If you’re part of a church or homeschool co-op, or anything at all — please reach out and ask if anyone is able to help in those first days! Whether it’s washing dishes, bringing a meal, keeping your other littles busy, or holding baby while you shower.
5 days on the bed: still focused on physical healing, and being all cozied-up with baby, immersing yourself in that newborn bubble, but a bit more freedom to get around the house. I spent most of this portion of days on the couch so I could be with my kids and family, while still totally resting and baby practically lived on the boobs.
5 days around the bed: *still* focused on physical healing and resting as much as possible, but with even more flexibility. Walk around the house, or your yard, have some tea on the porch with baby, soaking up sunshine. Gently and slowly fold some laundry, but still staying off your feet for any longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. Your body is strong, but also fragile 🙂
Coming from one mom who’s done things both ways — my physical healing (bleeding, fatigue, body soreness/aches etc.) went a lot smoother and faster when I prioritized rest in this way. Two full weeks (and then some) completely focused on healing, absolutely changed my postpartum periods for the better. I slowed down, memorizing every detail of that newborn sweetness. I wish I were exaggerating when I say that it goes in a blink, but I’m not. Soak. it. in. Allow for true rest and healing.
I highly recommend that during pregnancy, you make some meals double-sized, and freeze half so that your husband can easily bake/crockpot/instant pot when you are not going to be cooking *because you will be prioritizing rest of course* …I went on Pinterest and searched for easy freezer meals and freezer postpartum meals and just made some of those, too! I don’t truthfully remember all the ones we did, but a lot of soups! Bone broth is excellent nutritionally for healing postpartum, so soups are always a go-to. Plus, they’re so easy to re-heat. I also batch-made and froze muffins, cookie dough, pancakes, and all sorts of things to make life easier for those first few weeks.
THIS BOOK is an incredible resource for postpartum. The author has others geared for pregnancy and conception, as well. I’ve only read The First Forty Days, but I highly recommend that one and I presume her others will be just as wonderful.
I have THIS list on Amazon with nearly all postpartum essentials I use. I’ve had four vaginal deliveries, so I don’t have experience with c-section preparation. However, many of the same things still apply. Bleeding takes place either way, so pads and things for breastfeeding will be applicable no matter what.
It is really important to realize and remember that your body goes through the biggest, most drastic hormonal shift in those first two weeks as well. Your body goes from pregnancy and nourishing your body through the womb, to, post-birth and nourishing your baby through breastmilk almost literally overnight… so grace and rest are truly vital. Have I made it clear yet, just how important rest is? Let’s look at how our ancestors took care of their babies for years and years — it is natural for your baby to want to be held nonstop. You were their home for 9+ months! I read somewhere recently that babies don’t actually know that they’re apart from their mama, and a separate person, until after 3 months. Baby belongs to mama, and mama needs to embrace that new role. Holding baby close, and breastfeeding often, throwing schedules and regimens out the window also helps produce oxytocin, which in turn helps with breast milk, which in turn helps with healing. As we nurse baby, that helps the uterus to contract, shrink, and begin the process of hormone regulation. It takes time, lots and lots and lots of newborn snuggles, and taking care of yourself (which means allowing others to also care for you).
Getting up and doing too much, too quick, can result in even more hormone fluctuations, longer healing process/bleeding, and overall takes away from the fastest stage ever (newborns do not keep, friends, I’ll say it til I’m blue — soak it up).
If you want your life to be back to normal, then 1. rest, and 2. understand that you will have a new, ever-changing normal with a new baby who is your new world. Babies and postpartum are not an inconvenience – they’re honestly, I think, God’s gift to force us to slow the heck down, and fully immerse ourselves into the calling of Motherhood.