Postpartum is one of the hardest periods of life in my opinion. My body felt like I had been hit by a truck, I had stitches in tender places, and I hadn’t slept in days (sleeping in the hospital was impossible for me).
I felt so depleted. The tears flowed easily as I tried to figure out my newborn, motherhood, and healing.
Sometimes we begin to heal and experience set backs, like new bleeding, mastitis, and depression.
What can we do when recovery is hard and overwhelming?
1) Get in bed. And stay there.
One of our biggest issues with postpartum healing is doing too much too soon. We do chores, lift toddlers, or entertain well meaning guests. The best thing you could do is get into bed with baby, nurse, and sleep. Have your partner bring food, take away dishes, and maintain the household outside of your bedroom.
Keep supplies for baby, as well as yourself (think nursing pads, medications, tissues, diapers, wipes, and onesies. A waste basket can be kept handy. Set up Netflix or your favorite book series on kindle. If you feel the need to leave your room, go lay on the couch.
Keep in mind you have a 9” wound in your uterus from where your placenta detached. That's the size of a dinner plate. If you had a visible wound that size, you wouldn’t be vacuuming. Some births may have been by cesarean, causing even further healing time. Be gentle on yourself!
2) Stay hydrated and nourished.
When our hands are full juggling a baby and all their needs, we can neglect common things like feeding ourselves and making sure we are drinking fluids.
Once partners return to work and moms are alone with baby, we can quickly bypass our own needs to our detriment.
With my first daughter, I’d get stuck underneath her, either nursing or napping, for hours. I remember days I wouldn’t get breakfast until 3pm. I’d make myself a massive plate and inhale it. Skipping meals and not getting enough fluids not only makes you feel awful, but can negatively affect milk supply.
Keep water bottles and easy open snacks all around the house, but especially in your main resting area.
3) Check in with your care provider.
After your baby is born, your next appointment isn’t for six weeks. The postpartum check up is sorely lacking. It’s usually a wam-bam-your-cervix-is-closed-you’re-healed-you-can-have-sex-now appointment. Take time with your provider to really address your healing. As consumers, we should be demanding more.
If you’re having abnormal bleeding, clots larger than a golf ball, or you are not feeling well physically or emotionally, check in with your provider. Don’t feel you have to suffer until your six week check up.
4) Ask for help.
This may be the most difficult. Sometimes we don’t have family nearby. Friends offer to help with the usual,” Let me know if you need anything.”
Sometimes we aren’t even sure what we need to begin with, or we feel guilty asking. There’s the looming pressure to know what we are doing, and to be able to handle it all.
Yet we see, hear and read about the need for, “the village,” that our current generation is lacking. For the village to exist, we must start utilizing what support system we have. This may mean sharing our vulnerabilities with friends, reaching out to strangers on Facebook groups, or joining the next Le Leche League meeting.
Ask for meals to be brought. For someone to walk the dog. Ask friends to take an older sibling to the park to play. If someone comes to visit, ask them to bring some extra witch hazel.
It’s okay to need help. Set aside any expectations that don’t include healing and bonding with your new baby.
What helped during your postpartum healing? What would you have done differently? Share your stories with us in the comments.