We’ve all heard or read about the new mom who jumped right back into normal life, and her normal jeans right after leaving the hospital. Have you felt jealous of her? My younger, less experienced self sure did!
Now that I’ve had many more children, and am sitting pretty in my mid-thirties, I realize how foolish I was not to allow my body to make a strong recovery after birth.
When I had my first few children, I was in my early twenties, so I charged right back into life, full-speed ahead. I remember the day after my first daughter was born, my husband went out to buy some groceries, and took the other children with him. I mopped the kitchen floor while he was gone. My daughter was born two weeks early, and I didn’t have time before she was born to get it done, so I grabbed the mop and did it quickly while he was gone.
I almost got away with it too, but Ryan noticed the damp mop dripping on the floor and quickly put two and two together.
Pregnancy and childbirth are major undertakings, whether you have a vaginal birth or c-section. C-sections, of course, require even more time and care for a proper recovery. But a vaginal birth does not mean that you get to take a pass on giving your body the time it needs.
I’m going to go over the steps I follow for a proper, thorough recovery. My way isn’t the only way, but I’ve had plenty of practice, and plenty of opportunities to tweak my process, so I’m hoping it may be helpful.
For A Strong Recovery After Birth- Stay in Bed
One of the most important parts of my recovery is staying in bed for a full week. That’s seven full days. I stay in the hospital for two days, then, as soon as I come home, I take a relaxing shower, put pajamas on, and climb right into bed.
Before I leave for the hospital, I put together a basket of necessities to keep on my nightstand so that the only times that I need to get out of bed are to use the restroom.
In my postpartum bedside basket, I keep:
- Extra baby pajamas
- Face Cleansing Cloths
- Granola bars
- Dark Chocolate
- Ibuprofen and Acetaminephen
- Contact solution and Case, glasses
- Water bottleI also keep my baby in a cradle, pushed up to the side of my bed for that first week, so that I don’t have to get in and out of bed every time I need to feed the baby, or lay her down. Take a moment and think about all of the muscles (both internal and external) that you have to use to get in and out of bed. Those muscles need to be resting. They’ve just been through a marathon, so the less you need to get out of bed, the better.I am fortunate that my husband takes a full week off from work, and he knows the deal. He brings me all three meals, and I eat them in bed. He also checks on my water bottle and snack supply, makes sure I have enough diapers in the basket, etc. He knows that if he wants his wife to make a strong recovery after birth, the first week of recovery is essential.If you are unable to spend that first week in bed because you don’t have a support person, then I would suggest that you do as much prep as possible beforehand. Make a really big basket before you go to the hospital that will hold several days worth of snacks, diapers, etc.
Instead of just keeping a water bottle beside you, fill up a one gallon pitcher of water with plenty of ice in the morning, and keep that within reach. Maybe fill up a cooler in the morning with an easy breakfast and lunch, and have dinner choices available that just need to be heated up and not cooked. I know that this presents a much larger challenge, but any time that you can spend laying down or reclining, as opposed to on your feet will pay dividends later on.
Strong Recovery After Birth- Eating and Drinking
Now it’s time to touch on the types of food and drink your body needs for a strong recovery after birth, and also for making milk, if you are nursing.
Protein is the most important macronutrient when your body is working on recovery, so make sure you are getting a serving of protein with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at least. Adding it into snacks is a great idea too.
Complex carbohydrates will be your best friend if you are trying to make enough milk to breastfeed. Choices like oatmeal and whole wheat are common enough and will give your supply a boost. If you don’t enjoy oatmeal, get a large box of granola bars to keep in your bedside basket.
Quinoa and legumes play double-duty, providing both protein and complex carbohydrates. as long as your baby isn’t sensitive to the beans (they do make some babies gassy) then try to figure out a way to work these into your daily diet.
It’s so important to drink a lot of water during your first few weeks of recovery, and even longer if you are nursing. Your body needs the extra fluid to replace lost blood volume, but also for milk-making. You will most likely feel really thirsty the first week. Drinking 64 oz. of water daily is really the bare minimum. Shoot for 96 oz. or more.
In my experience, you can enjoy most of the normal foods that you love without having to worry about how they will affect your baby during the first week. I have found that the babies I’ve had with sensitive tummies have really not started having problems until around week three or four.
If you have an ultra-sensitive baby, this may not be the case. If your baby is crying a lot, arching his back, and is hard to settle, take a look at what you are eating. It could be spicy food, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, dairy or soy causing the upset.
Let’s Wrap This Up…
I have several more postpartum recovering topics that I want to discuss including:
- Mental health
- Easing back into real life
- Exercises to rehab your pelvic floor and tummy
- Activities you should wait at least 6 weeks for (not just sex!)
Those topics for making a strong recovery after birth will have to wait for the next post, so make sure to check back in for the rest!
If your baby is already here and you need some trouble-shooting help, go ahead and download my FREE Crying Baby Flow Chart. Or you could read the story of my first baby’s perfect sleep schedule, and how I screwed it all up with my second baby.
Click here to read about how to get through the Baby Blues.
Click here to read more about getting rid of nipple pain.
Click here to read about the one chore you should avoid Post Partem.
I love your blog name 🙂 Great article!
J. Ivy Boyter says
I got wise and froze about 30 meals to make cooking easier after the second baby was born. It made our lives so much easier and I’d totally regretted not being so smart the first time around 😉
I hadn’t even thought of a basket of stuff by the bed. GAH!
But thankfully I don’t have to worry about it again 🙂
Ashley Buffa says
I probably didn’t think of the basket by the bed until after my fourth or fifth baby 😉 And yes! Freezer meals are life savers!!!
Mary Leigh says
Great tips! Staying hydrated was so important for me!
Bri Adams says
I wish I’d had this list when I went through this. I didn’t say in bed for any of them and I’m sure my recoveries were much harder because of it. Thank you for encouraging new moms (or moms again) to take care of themselves first. We have the rest of our lives to take care of our children!
Ashley Buffa says
Yes Bri, that’s a great point! And the stronger we are, the better we’ll be able to care for our children.
All that… and asking for help because people WANT to help. And you need it!
Ashley Buffa says
Yes! Asking for help is SO important…but sometimes, so hard!
Keating | KeatingBartlett.com says
No way could I have spent a week sitting in bed lol I remained very active throughough my entire pregnancy. I continued going to the gym 5 days a week and added in a prenatal yoga class as well. I had a very healthy and easy pregnancy and so far have had a very easy recovery as well. I’m now 2 weeks postpartum and am feeling fantastic. Everything was right back to normal within days of giving birth. My doctor says it’s because I take such good care of myself both physically and mentally. A strong recovery doesn’t have to be from babying yourself for weeks on end. It’s all about taking care of yourself and knowing what your body can and cannot handle.
Ashley Buffa says
That’s fantastic that you are doing so well, congratulations on your new baby!
Elizabeth O'Neill says
You can work out and be strong, but if your baby tears you up on the way out…Bed is the only place you can be. God bless you if you were up and moving without crying.
Lynn Woods says
I’ll be sharing this with my sister who had a baby 5 weeks ago. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty!