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.
To read more about strong postpartum recoveries, click here to read about how to get through the Baby Blues.