by Justine Deputy, RN, MSN
What do new moms need most? Rest!
Think about it… Your body just did an amazing thing. Your body grew a baby! After going through the physical demands of labor you have your beautiful little one on the outside and now have to give your body time to heal. After you deliver your baby, you also deliver the placenta. The separation of the placenta from the uterine wall leaves an area of the uterus that needs to heal. The blood vessels that previously supplied nutrients and removed waste for baby now need to clot off to allow the area to heal. Rest is key to promote healing and get you back up and moving.
There is so much excitement surrounding the postpartum period, but rest needs to be a priority. Remember, these are the days to impose on others. Next blog will discuss strategies for handling visitors, but for now, here is what you should be doing for the first six weeks.
The First Few Days
One of the major differences between delivering at The Birth Center and a hospital is the early discharge. This means, when you go home, you must go right to bed! These are the days where you should be doing absolutely nothing but eating/drinking, napping/resting, nursing, personal hygiene, and completing your vital signs. Avoid stairs as much as possible. Do them no more than once a day. If you want to go downstairs, stay down there until you are ready to go back up or the day.
Up Until Two Weeks
After a few days, you can start moving around the house a little bit, but you should still be taking it very easy. Slowly increase the number of times you go up and down the stairs or walk around the house, but you still shouldn’t be in charge of the cleaning, chasing other children, walking the dog, cooking, etc. Remember these are the hardest two weeks, so you shouldn’t need to focus on anything but you and your new baby.
Up Until Six Weeks
From two to six weeks you can slowly increase your activity. By increasing your activity level just a little at a time, you will be able to tell when something is too much and prevent yourself from overdoing it. If your bleeding increase or pain increases, your body is telling you that you need more rest. By allowing your body to guide you and taking things slowly, you are allowing your body to fully heal. At two weeks you can begin to talk short walks but start very short and slow. As you increase your distance or walking speed, watch your body for signs that it might be too much. Support group at The Birth Center is a great way to start getting out of the house in those early weeks. At your six week visit with your midwife, she will check to make sure everything is where it should be and clear you for sex and exercise.
Up Until You Are Comfortable
There isn’t a magic day where everyone will feel back to themselves, be fully healed, and ready to take on the world again. It is often a much longer process than six weeks. Just because you are physically cleared for sex and exercise, doesn’t mean you are mentally ready for it. And that is okay! Take your time. Don’t feel rushed. Each mama and baby couplet is different!