Do you remember in one of my previous posts, when I talked about feeling hesitant in my first pregnancy about who I would become and how people would view me once I had a baby? There is a new kind of competitiveness that we have as females to outdo each other in our jobs, families, children, etc. While there may be some good side effects from this, it is mostly ego driven and essentially provides nothing in the long run, especially for our wholeness.
When I would dream or plan about my life when I was younger, and dreamt of having babies, I rarely thought of the time period immediately following birth. It was until my midwife explained and highly encouraged that I take the first two weeks following birth to rest and essentially stay in bed. It seemed like a great idea and went against the grit of what I had unknowingly planned on doing, which was getting “back” to my life. In her adaptation from the ancient Chinese practice of sitting the month, she recommended 15 days of absolute rest: no chores, no moving, no exercising, lots of baby bonding time, and lots of sleep. The reasons being that the postpartum body is still in recovery (even longer than those 15 days, and even longer still than the 6 weeks the doctor tells you to refrain from sex and exercise), the organs have massively shifted around, and while you may be mentally ready to “get back to it”, your body needs more time to heal. After undergoing one of the most challenging physical experiences of a drug free birth, and experience all of the intensity that it brought physically and the intensity of being so overwhelmed with love, the best thing for me to do was rest. It allowed for immediate bonding with Lincoln, allowed my body to heal and rest, and for my insides to recover. I think sometimes we have a disconnection from what’s happening inside our bodies because we can’t see it actually happening.
If the thought of resting gives you some kind of anxiety, remember that there isn’t anything more important than taking care of your body after it’s done some thing so incredible, especially not getting back in shape or proving that you can get back out there fastest and first. Those actions will most likely leave you with some unfortunate side effects emotionally, mentally, and physically (can you say no pelvic floor recovery). And there is nothing more important than bonding with your baby in those first few weeks, so you can learn everything about them: every sound and every movement.
Here’s how to be successful in this process if you’ve never done it before:
1. Ask for help. Yes this principle shows up again. Practice it often if you’re going to be successful as a parent/human being. Ask for help with food prep, house cleaning, and even for company as you need or want it. Schedule people in your life who are going to come see you anyway to bring you food. Clear communication about what you want and what you need will always make things easier.
2. Be clear that you aren’t entertaining people. If people are coming to visit, they should be contributing to your family in some way. This is not an opportunity for people to drop by and hang out for long periods of time. Feel free to tell people to go home if they have overstayed their welcome.
3. Enjoy the time you have to rest with your precious new baby! Sleep as much as possible (your body recovers best when it is sleeping/resting) and remember that anything else other than sleeping, bonding with your baby, and eating are not necessary at this point.
4. Continue to give up the idea that you should be doing something and that you are lazy/not doing enough because you are resting. Remember that your body just worked really hard for 9 months and still is to provide nutrition for your baby.
5. Be willing to face criticism from people who don’t understand what you’re doing. Remember you’ll want to be able to have full control of your pelvic floor when you’re 60 and that’s part of the reason you’re doing this-to take care of you, not to take care of other people’s expectations of you.
6. Plan to eat well. This doesn’t mean eating everything you weren’t able to eat during pregnancy (although I’m looking forward to a donut or 12 in my postpartum recovery), it does mean eating nourishing foods that provide vitamins and things to heal your systems.
I know that this list could possibly be longer, and I will update it once I have an idea of how to do this with an older child and all of the above things still apply. And include your older child in your rest and recovery. Make sure they get some sweet snuggle time with you as well during this period. Part of asking for help will be to make sure that they have somebody to tend and entertain them in those first few weeks ( a spouse or grandparent is a great idea for this), so they don’t feel completely left out of the new family dynamic.
What do you think about this? Would you give this a chance in your recovery or would you recommend it to a friend in their recovery?