How a mama is taken care of in the first 42 days postpartum will effect her for the next 42+ years of her life!
That statement is one that I cannot stress enough to the mamas and families that I work with. It is so incredibly important for mamas to actually take time to rest and recover prior to getting back into a routine of house hold chores and exercise and work and caring for others (besides her new baby). Seriously, it will effect her for the rest of her life! Carrying a baby and giving birth is hard work, it takes a toll on her body, and she needs to recover!
In today's American society, I too frequently see social media posts and tv shows glorifying the quick bounce back after baby. This falsely advertises that it is healthy, possible for everyone, and the goal to strive for. Mamas: Stand up for yourselves and do not fall ill to the societal pressure! Friends and Family members: Demand better treatment for new mamas and help support your loved ones in their recovery!
You'll notice that the title of this blog post is the first 6-12 weeks postpartum. Yes, thats a big spectrum of time, but truly the recovery process for some maybe 6 weeks and for others it still isn't over at 12 weeks. Its all unique to each mama and each birth. The amount of recovery time can depend on whether birth was vaginal or surgical, if mama was left with physical or emotional scars after birth, if there are any pre-existing conditions, if mama is well nourished and cared for or if she is pressured into bouncing back quickly.
Mama’s organs are returning to their positions after being squished for 9 months, plus she still has a placenta sized wound inside her. If that wound was on the outside of her body then it would be obvious to take things slow. However, it can be easy to forget about as the wound is not visible. Its important to recover and then ease back into activity slowly. The side effects of skipping the adequate recovery time could result in dangerous blood clots, internal or external bleeding, organ prolapse, incontinence, back pain, challenges with sex and intimacy, and postpartum depression/anxiety. While many of these side effects are common in today's society, it is important not to normalize them. It is not ok that mamas are commonly experiencing these life altering side effects when many times they can be prevented.
So, where can you start, what things could help mama recover? I've listed some tips for you all below. I know that for a few these tips are doable, for some it might be possible, and for many there's a slim chance of following all the guidelines. But, I still put the information out there in hopes that you at least realize the importance and seriousness of a supported recover time for new mamas!
Take it Easy
Step 1- Recovery
Rest, massage, and restorative movements in reclined positions for 6-8 weeks for vaginal birth or 10-12 weeks for cesarean birth.
Step 2- Rehabilitation
When cleared for exercise by your care provider, gradually ease back into activity paying special attention to rebuilding a functional core and pelvic floor.
Step 3- Renew Activity
Mama is ready for full activity when she has control of her pelvic floor and the core has been healed for 6+ months.
The 5-5-5 Rule
In the first 2 weeks postpartum, create a sanctuary in your bedroom and allow others to support you!
5 days in bed
Spend these days resting, bonding with baby, eating nourishing meals, and massaging your recovering body. Your longest walk is to the bathroom and back to bed.
5 days next to the bed
Continue the things from the previous 5 days, but begin to add in supportive visitors and restorative movement. Your longest walk is to the den window for some sunshine.
5 days near the bed
Continue the things from the previous 10 days, keep visits limited and movement gentle. Your longest walk is to the kitchen table for a meal.
How Can Others Support You?
This is your recovery, learning, and bonding time. So, when someone visits or offers to help out, lean on their support and tell them to….
Vacuum or Sweep
Wipe Down Counters
Take Out Trash
Pick Up Groceries