When I think back to my early post partum days and what I wish had been different about them, lots of different things come to my mind. The thing that stands out the most, is I wish I had gotten more rest.
My home birth midwife gave me a post partum check list for the first four weeks that included total bed rest the first week and semi-bedrest the second and third. I remember looking at it while pregnant and thinking, "what a joke!" I am way too type A for bed rest. And true to my form, I was up walking around and taking the trash out. The same day I gave birth. Like an IDIOT!
If you are type A like me, listen to me now and heed my advice. The trash can wait. The dishes can wait. The house can become cluttered for a few weeks and you will not unravel. I take that back, you will unravel, but its not because of the dishes, its because you are now a mother and your old life is dead.
Let everything just be, if you don't have someone to help you do everything. And Lord knows, if you are like me, and you do have some help, they are doing everything ALL wrong. They are gonna put the dishes away wrong or fold your shirt a different way.
The dish will not have a panic attack inside your cabinets by being put in there in the wrong spot. The dish will be fine, trust me. The shirt will not be mad at you for being folded a different way. It will all be OK, so just sit your butt, or rather lay your butt, in bed and do nothing but eat, drink and make sure your baby is eating and drinking from you!
Even if you feel great and feel like you could do more, just stay in bed. You will never again have family and friends bringing you meals and helping around the house (at least until the next baby) so just enjoy it. And I really think that I would be less tired now, 9 months later, if I had rested more in the beginning.
In Aruvedic medicine, the mother and child should spend the first six weeks in bed to regain her energy and strength, in order to sustain the mother over the long haul of the psychically and emotionally demanding first year. I was doing anything but. I was pumping like a maniac. And I let my husband talk me into taking our newborn daughter on a 10 hour car trip to visit family for the holidays...like an IDIOT!
So if you are going to be on bedrest or couch rest for the first six weeks you need to learn something very important. You need to learn how to nurse lying down, other wise known as the side-lying position. For me and my daughter, nursing in those first few weeks, or lack there of, was a complete nightmare. For her first week, in order to get her latched on at all I had to be sitting in a chair, on a boppy, (because even though I didn't tear and had a peaceful home birth, water birth-pushing out a 9 pound 1 ounce baby made my bottom hurt like a mother), with a My Breast Friend strapped on, with a rolled up blanket under my boob to lift if up, and with my husband squeezing my poor flat nipples and me holding my boob in one hand and the other holding my daughters head to shove her face onto my boob the second she opened up wide enough.
It was a freaking 3 ring circus.
My dear friend who had given birth 7 weeks earlier, did not have so many issues. She learned how to nurse her baby laying down from day 1. So she just laid in bed all day and all night and nursed her baby on demand while laying down and resting. I can't tell you how jealous I was of her and how much I hated my rocking chair of torture.
Some women have a hard time with the side-lying position at first, boobs can be too small or too big to make it comfortable at first. But keep working at it, and keep trying to find the right pilow or whatever to get comfortable in this position. It is a life savor for night time feedings. Once you master it, you can whip out your boob and go back to sleep quickly.
So lets recap. Things you need to do to get more rest during your post partum period:
- Get over it. The mess, the untidiness, the laundry pile, the dishes, whatever. Just let it all be.
- Lay down and stay in bed. I'm serious. Don't make me come over to your house.
- Learn how to nursing laying down. Don't leave the hospital or have the midwife leave the house, without showing you how.
Stephanie is a first time mother to her daughter, Penelope. Born on 11.11.09 at home, in water, and into her own two hands. She is a Certified Birthing From Within Doula and Educator, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Certified Yoga Instructor. She has a BS in Environmental Science and was a Nanny for 5 years before becoming a mother herself. You can find her at Mama and Baby Love.