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How should you plan for your postpartum recovery?
If you are pregnant and busy planning for your upcoming birth, don’t forget to plan for your postpartum recovery as well!
Many women fail to do so.
They spend hours pouring through pregnancy and childbirth blogs and books, but forget to learn about life with a newborn.
They also neglect to make a postpartum plan. This is a mistake that many parents later regret!
Plan for a Postpartum Recovery Time
The postpartum season can be a very challenging time.
Why? Because not only are you healing from pregnancy, labor and childbirth, but you are also trying to figure out how to care for your new baby on top of all that!
In addition, but most new parents are doing all this without much sleep!
Let’s face it. It is usually more difficult than most first-time parents anticipate.
The physical and emotional challenges can often come as a surprise to many first-time mothers.
I was one of those surprised moms! Read my story here.
Because new parents are often not expecting these challenges, they don’t plan appropriately for enough recovery time.
Instead, some expect that they will jump right back into their normal routines and resume life as before baby.
But, lack of proper rest puts moms at greater risk for postpartum complications such as mastitis, urinary tract infections, postpartum endometritis or postpartum anxiety or depression.
FREE Email Course Includes these Great Printable Postpartum Planning Resources!
Plan ahead and have an easier postpartum recovery!
I have written a FREE course called “Planning for Postpartum.”
Included in this course is my FREE postpartum planning packet. It includes my favorite postpartum organizational planning tools: a Postpartum Plan Worksheet as well as a Postpartum Checklist to help you get organized and ready!
You won’t forget any important details with these great planning guides!
The Postpartum Plan Worksheet will help you and your partner dialog and create a plan for your recovery time.
The Postpartum Checklist is a doula-made pregnancy “To Do List” designed to prepare you for life with your newborn!
Get the FREE course and printable planning packet HERE!
What Should Postpartum Recovery Look Like?
For centuries, many cultures around the world have observed a special “lying-in” period following the birth of a baby.
These periods of rest and recovery vary in length, but usually last for about 40 days.
In many of these traditions, older women from the community care for the new mothers.
Moms are only expected to rest, recover, nurse and bond with their babies. These new moms have no other responsibility! What an awesome thing!
Similarly, in some European countries, lengthy maternity and paternity leave is enjoyed by new parents.
These paid leaves can sometimes last a year or more!
Sadly, in the United States, our new moms are not treated with such respect!
Rather, many women are expected to return to work or household duties before they are physically or emotionally ready.
Since our fast-paced society doesn’t encourage a proper “lying-in” period, I believe expectant moms need to take matters into their own hands!
The only way to do this is to plan ahead!
You are invited to download my free postpartum plan to help you get started with your postpartum recovery plan.
The Importance of Postpartum Self-Care
You won’t be able to properly care for your newborn and family if you are not healthy.
New moms today can learn from the wisdom of these ancient practices and adopt a similar recovery plan for postpartum.
No, it is not selfish…. it is SELF-CARE and it is important for the whole family that you do so!
Learn more about new mom self-care in this post.
I propose that every pregnant woman plans for a similar lying-in period with their new baby.
Some like to refer to this special time as their “Baby Moon”.
Whatever you call it, make sure that you include at least 2 weeks of true bed rest, bonding and recovery time!
Can you resume normal activities after 2 weeks?
Not yet! But you will be well on your way to an awesome recovery and a plentiful milk supply!
Most childbirth professionals recommend 6-8 weeks of taking it easy before resuming normal pre-pregnancy activities, such as exercise or strenuous physical exertion.
The 5-5-5 Bed Rule for Postpartum Recovery!
Here is a great rule of thumb to keep in mind when making your postpartum plan.
It’s called the “5-5-5 Rule” and it is a postpartum recipe for success!
I prefer to call it the 5-5-5 BED Rule since it involves lots of bed rest.
So how does it work?
Simple. When planning for your “baby moon”, plan for 5 days IN the bed, 5 days ON the bed and 5 days NEAR the bed.
5 Days IN the Bed
As suggested, the first 5 days should be TOTALLY in bed.
Sure, you can sit up and watch TV or read if you’d like, but do so from the bed or couch.
The only “activities” in these first 5 days should be things that can be done from the bed or couch…sleep, nap, breastfeed, read, watch TV and rest, rest, rest.
Ideally, the first 5 days should also strictly limit visitors, so mom and baby can have plenty of skin-to-skin time while learning to breastfeed in private.
Without lots of visitors, mom (and dad) are free to nap as much as they want without worrying about entertaining company or listening for the door.
If you are comfortable with visitors, only allow visitors who can help with cooking or housework!
Check out my 25 rules for visiting a family with a newborn and share these rules with potential visitors!
Forget about doing stairs or getting dressed!
Stay in bed, sweet mama. Allow yourself to be served and pampered.
This is a very short and sweet time for you and your baby.
You will never get this time again with this baby, so savor it!
5 Days ON the Bed
The next 5 days, you can be up and about a bit more, but make sure that the majority of your day is still in bed!
What does this look like exactly?
I would suggest that you limit your “up” time to 30 minutes every 2 hours.
So, 30 minutes up and 90 minutes in bed again. (or resting on the couch)
Remember, you will be up a lot at night with your baby, so you will need this rest.
A lot of moms find it helpful to stay in their pajamas or lounge clothing.
Getting dressed makes it too tempting to start doing things again!
Another benefit of staying in your sleep clothes is that your guests won’t stay as long!
They will see you in your bath robe and assume that you are not up for long visits. (This will probably be true!)
DO NOT plan on outings outside the house yet, except for maybe a very short 10 minute stroll to get some fresh air.
Better yet, sit outside in a soft, comfy chair instead!
You will have plenty of time for exercise in the days and weeks to come!
If you are starting to feel a little “stir-crazy” resist the temptation to go out and invite some friends over instead.
Everyone will be really excited to see your new baby, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding visitors!
Don’t forget the skin-to-skin time with your baby, too.
Whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, your baby will LOVE this special cuddle time with Mom!
Skin-to-skin has so many benefits for both mom AND baby.
It is a great way to relax and will really help to balance your post-birth hormones too!
During these 5 days, make sure you plan for plenty of this special bonding time!
5 Days NEAR the Bed
Okay, so this brings us to the next 5 days…. Stay NEAR the bed!
What does this mean?
I would suggest that half your day is still resting or napping, preferably ON your bed.
I would highly recommend that you limit your “up” time to one hour before resting again.
Does this mean long outings with the baby?
Not yet! Remember, the idea is to stay NEAR the bed. Not miles away.
Short strolls around the block and in-home activities that do not involve physical exertion are best during this time…. making puzzles, craft projects, movie marathons, etc. You get the idea, right?
Leave the chores to your family members and friends.
If you are dying to do something productive besides feeding your baby, fold laundry or pay bills while sitting on the couch, but nothing more!
Continue skin-to-skin during this time along with plenty of snuggle and breastfeeding time with your newborn.
Don’t be concerned if your nursing baby wants to eat constantly.
This is very normal for a baby of this age and those long cluster-feeding sessions will really pay off with better milk supply and night time sleep in the weeks to come!
How Do I Know if I’m Over-Doing It ?
If you follow these suggestions for the 5-5-5 rule, you will not be overdoing it during the first 2 weeks!
However, if you begin to think that you can resume normal activities at the 2-3 week mark, you may experience a significant physical or emotional set back.
Fortunately, our bodies will “speak” to us about this.
Listen to your body!
If you feel tired, make sure that you nap during the day.
If you notice that your lochia discharge is getting heavier again instead of tapering off, that is a really strong indicator that you are overdoing it!
Pay attention to this signal and you may prevent a serious postpartum complication.
I made this mistake with three of my babies and I paid for it with some terrible mastitis that almost landed me in the hospital!
Get Plenty of Sleep!
One of the best ways that you can care for yourself and ensure a speedy postpartum recovery is to make sleep a priority.
Although this may seem impossible with a newborn who needs to eat every 2-3 hours at first, there are several things new parents can do to make sure that they get enough sleep.
I have written a post about new parent sleep here.
If you implement these 4 New Parent Sleep Hacks, you will find it much easier to get the sleep you need, even with a newborn!
More Sleep Tips for Parents
For more help in the sleep department, please check out my new eBook!
This is NOT a sleep training book, but a hands-on survival guide for new parents.
I teach new parents how to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.
I have compiled all my favorite doula tips into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents.
It’s called 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns.
This book will be a game changer for your family!
FREE Planning Resources for Your New Baby!
If you are pregnant, this is the time to begin planning for your new baby’s arrival!
- What do you include on your baby registry checklist?
- How do you write a birth plan?
- How do you hire a doula?
- Who will be helping you during your recovery time?
- What should you include in your postpartum plan?
- How about a newborn care plan?
- How do you set up a meal train?
- What are some easy freezer meals to make ahead?
- What should you pack in your hospital bag?
These are just a sampling of the kind of planning you will need to do!
But don’t get overwhelmed!
The work of planning isn’t really so bad because I have compiled some great FREE resources for you here.
Download these free worksheets and email courses to get you started with all your planning needs!
Here is my new email course to help you plan and prepare for the best possible postpartum recovery!
The course includes tips for planning your “baby moon”, getting your home organized and ready, writing your postpartum plan, pre-baby shopping lists, strategies for better postpartum sleep and much more!
Download these free printable worksheets for planning the perfect postpartum recovery time.
They are a great springboard for discussion for you and your partner, providing helpful tips and suggestions for how to organize and plan for your recovery!
Many new parents don’t know about the importance of a newborn care plan.
If you are planning a hospital birth, this plan walks you through all the important decisions you will need to make regarding the care of your new baby.
Wow! This is such a great resource for pregnant mamas!
Subscribe to Alli’s and Trina’s amazing FREE new mom planning course and get weekly email updates and reminders so you can stay on course and plan for your new baby.
Type in your due date and email address and you’re all set!
Their weekly emails will both inspire and motivate you as you get ready for the big day!
Although not free, this affordable planner is one that I want to bring to your attention.
As a postpartum doula, I am VERY excited to recommend this great planning resource!
Why? Because I have witnessed so many new moms who are not prepared for their postpartum recovery and consequently have a much more difficult time recovering and adjusting to motherhood.
The Nesting Planner is a complete planner for pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and newborn care.
It is loaded with printable checklists, worksheets and other planning tools.
It will help you get organized and stay on track throughout your entire pregnancy.
You will never miss a step with monthly checklists and reminders that easily itemize what must be done before the big day!
Check out the Nesting Planner here.
Do you have any postpartum recovery tips to share with new moms?
I’d love to hear your story!
Please share in the comments to help other moms as they prepare for their little ones.
Thank you so much!