Okay, so you’ve just had a baby, are about to have a baby or know someone who falls into the aforementioned categories. By now you probably know of the many challenges that can go along with pregnancy, but what about the postpartum period? Every pregnancy will have a different postpartum that goes along with it. Just because you had an exceptional recovery with your first child, does not mean you will have with any subsequent children that will follow, or vice versa. Some things to keep in mind are: Rest! I know, you’ve been tired for the last few weeks (or even months), you’ve just had the baby and now you’re raring to go, go, go. Right? Wrong. You have to take this time out after having the baby, not only to nurture and bond with your child, but also, and very importantly so, to allow your body the proper healing time it needs so that when the time comes you can be up and going as much as you would like to be without any physical complications to thwart your progress.
If you rush the healing process by not allowing yourself adequate time to rest, you can end up with extending the time it takes for your body to heal and thus delaying significantly any plans to rush forward into the regular day-to-day activities you may be craving. Although the healing process is different for each preganancy, know that a minimum of six weeks should be put aside for you allowing yourself to do so. The most important thing you can do during this time frame is to relax and rest. Take naps when your baby does and/or catch a few Z’s when dad or someone else is home with the baby. Also, sleep at night when your baby does. I know it is very tempting to use that time, when the house is very quiet, to get up and get the things done you would like to but may not be able to, during the daytime, but trust me, it will wait and nothing will far apart because of it. Use the time your child sleeps at night to get some sleep yourself. With the erratic sleep patterns of a newborn, you need any and all of the sleep you can get during the night that falls in between.
Also during the postpartum period, take time to not only rest your body but relax your mind as well. Going through a pregnancy is no easy task, even in the best of pregnancies, and you deserve a chance to relax and regroup yourself. There are many ways to relax your mind, simply taking time out to do something you enjoy while someone else is watching the baby can work wonders in providing you with a sense of mental refreshment. When the opportunity arises, take a relaxing bubble bath, read a book you want to, watch an old movie, take an extra nap, give yourself a pedicure or manicure, make that phone call to a friend, etc. Whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed, take some time out to do that when you are able to. You will be glad that you did so.
What about the baby blues? I have several children and did not get the baby blues with any of them but the last one, so of course, being a seasoned mother and all, with my last child, I wasn’t expecting to get them at all. I remember being so happy to have this newborn wonder in my life, being very content and pleased with my life, my husband, my household, etc., but still every day for about two weeks, I had a little weepy time during the day where I just felt overwhelmed with a feeling I cannot even describe that made me want to (and I did) cry. My husband was very supportive during this time, and even a bit worried although the crying was only for a short period each day and I assured him I was very happy in spite of it. Fortunately, I knew from prior reading and other women’s accounts that this was very normal. I telephoned an aunt of mine who had three children of her own, just to tell her about the baby and how everything was going and the subject of the baby blues came up.
She assured me that she went through the same thing with all three of her babies and that it was perfectly normal and would pass soon. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but that, for me, was the end of my baby blues. Just talking about them with someone who understood completely because she had been there worked wonders for me. So, if you are experiencing these blues during postpartum, do not be concerned. Your hormones and emotions have been and are still going through a lot! You deserve to allow yourself to feel every emotion you are going through, you do. So if amongst the joy and happiness you feel a good cry coming on too, you do not have to be perplexed about it, just simply let it all out.*
During the postpartum period, especially towards the end of it, you may be feeling anxious to get up and do some work around the house, the yard, etc. Or maybe you feel the need to exercise and start working on getting your body back into its prepreganancy shape. These are all sound ideas, but if it is too soon to do it, do not do it! Three weeks into my postpartum, I got the bright idea to pressure clean the outside of the house while the baby was sleeping and in a responsible family member’s care. Bad idea. The lifting of the pressure cleaner (it was a small one) put a lot of stress on my uterus that was healing nicely until that point, and rendered me all but helpless for the next week to follow. It was even hard to lift the baby for a day or so after that. So while you may be in a hurry to get things moving along, remember that just because you are feeling great does not mean your body is ready to jump right into physical work. If you are in the postpartum period and feeling fantastic; wonderful! Enjoy that! But do not take it as a sign that you are completely healed and ready to go. I know it is very cliche, but it is also very true: Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
Okay, so you now have a good sense of how important it is to take time out for postpartum care. If and when you are tempted to move along too quickly in your healing process, just remember that it is only for a minimum of six weeks that you need to do this and if you take the time to do so properly, your chances for an expedient recovery are much highter than if you do not do so. If you feel the urge to do something you know your body may not be ready for, find something else to do instead. Six weeks is really not that long. You have the rest of your life to keep your house spotless, do your yard work, exercise, etc. For right now you just need to relax and take care of yourself and that new little guy or gal that is in the house. No one will remember the dust that accumulated on your lamps or the weeds that popped up in the yard during this time, there are jsut too many other great things to focus on. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to just take care of your baby and yourself; be smart and do just that. In the end, you will be glad that you did. Happy recovery and congratulations on the new addition to your family!