Postpartum Rest and Recovery Tips (From a Mama Who Learned the Hard Way) 1

Postpartum Rest and Recovery Tips (From a Mama Who Learned the Hard Way)

The following question came in my e-mail box a couple of months ago:

I am a mother of a one-year-old girl, and I am due with our second in June 2012. 🙂
After I had my daughter, I was told to rest when I came home from the birthing center. Instead, I was going up and down our stairs, trying to upload pictures of our newborn to email to the grandparents. I was more worried about pleasing other people than getting rest.

What is your wisdom about how to recover during the postpartum weeks? What do you use (certain herbs, pads, etc.) to help recover from the pain of birth? How do you rest with other children who need you?

It brought back a lot of memories (9 postpartum recoveries here so far), so I thought I’d address it since it’s something many of us will still face at some point in the future.
I’m going to come at this from a Type A personality angle…since that is my perspective and experience. If you are not a Type A, you’ll likely wonder what the fuss is all about. Read no further. (Unless, of course, you want to snicker at our expense.)

Being Type A has its pros and cons. We tend to get a lot done. We also tend to get burnt out and turn into emotional basket cases periodically. The good news for our husbands is: we eventually bounce back and turn into our Type A selves again.

When a Type A has a baby, she tends to get off the delivery bed and serve dinner to her family that night. Why? Is she insane? Partly. But also, she has a desire to meet the needs of everyone around her. And since they are all used to that…they tend to let her do it.

This is pretty much how I operated for the first several postpartum experiences. I did take a few meals from friends, but I didn’t have anyone come and stay with us while I “convalesced in bed” for 6 weeks. In fact, I remember reading an article where the writer talked about staying in bed for several weeks following child birth…and I scoffed my eyeballs out at the thought. Why, I was NOT about to lay around doing NOTHING for weeks on end. How boring and depressing!

No…I would come home from the hospital and pretty much jump right back into my regular routine, although at a slower pace.

Here’s where that got me:

  • I struggled with huge emotional swings…one minute being happy and hyper…the next minute weeping in despair over crumbs on the floor. Other times I would be thrilled to finally have the pregnancy over…and then an irrational longing to “go back in time” and be pregnant again would overwhelm me. Weeping again.
  • I was certain my kids would all die. I had such a horrific sense of dread that disaster was just around the corner. I felt very vulnerable and fearful.
  • I had postpartum insomnia. The kind that has nothing to do with a baby waking you up every hour. Oh…the baby was there waking me up…the problem was…I hadn’t fallen asleep yet from the LAST time the baby woke me up. I could not relax. Among other things, I would lay awake trying to remember which side I had nursed the baby on last…so I would be sure to nurse evenly on both sides. This totally stressed me out.
  • I bled and bled and bled. And bled. I thought I was going to bleed to death many times. (Yes, sometimes I was out grocery shopping when I felt like that. Hmmmm….)

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You know…I think it took 5-6 babies to get the hang of everything and learn a few lessons. Here’s what I learned the hard way:

Plan to rest for a month

This doesn’t mean sleeping, necessarily, but it means laying/sitting quietly for as much of the day as you possibly can the first couple of weeks to a month. Use this time to catch up on reading, nursing/bonding with your newborn, writing in your journal, catching up on phone calls, blogging or other writing projects, starting your baby book, etc.

If you have a lot of little children and no big helpers yet, try to arrange for a mother/mother-in-law to come over for a couple of weeks OR…see if your husband can take some extra time off. I really wish I had pushed for this with my first few babies. I know my recoveries would have been much smoother and quicker had I asked for the help I needed (or taken it when it was offered to me!)

If you don’t have that luxury, God will sustain you, and you will survive. You can always rest on the couch. The little ones can play around you, you can use educational DVDs to keep them quiet at times, and make due with other creative strategies. The point is to AIM for keeping your feet up and your body quiet.

Now that my older children are, well, older…they pretty much take over for me those first two weeks…and I’ve bled much less and recovered both physically and emotionally much more quickly. One of the benefits of having help is that you can extend your “night” sleep so that you end up with a good 7-8 hours every 24 hours. I hit the sack with my baby early (say, 8:00)…and we go through the night time routine of sleeping/eating every 2-4 hours…and get up late the next morning (around 9:00 or so).

Sure, it’s not very exciting and certainly not very “productive” by Type A personality standards, but it sets you up for a quicker recovery, and is, in the long run, really worth it. Lack of sleep and rest are your worst enemies after giving birth. Invest those first few weeks in concentrated rest.

Adjust your expectations

Are you a die hard natural food purist? No cold cereals in your kitchen cabinets? Time to put all that on the back burner (perhaps) and buy some boxes of Cheerios or ready made healthy cold cereal options. Toast is good. Have fast, easy food on hand that your kids can serve up themselves. PB&J sandwiches can be a staple at lunchtime for a couple of weeks. The new diet might be boring, but nobody will perish. 

I do know many moms will make healthy freezer meals several weeks before baby is born. They can then pop these meals in the oven and still eat the kinds of healthy foods their family is accustomed to eating. While I’m not quite that ambitious, I do freeze things like fried up hamburger, cooked chicken, rice, etc. to have on hand. I can still “throw together” a quick spaghetti meal or chicken and rice dish without too much ado.  Anything you can do ahead of time to minimize your responsibilities after baby comes will only help you rest, recover, and heal more quickly.

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Image by tofslie

Do you home educate? Take a month off.

The kids can do all the things they can do on their own…but the things that require your intervention…just quit. When I know we are having a baby, I really push school before the baby is born…maybe even starting a couple weeks earlier in the year…or going a few weeks later at the end. And then I “cash in” on that time investment after the baby’s birth…and take a month off.

The kids are happy to have their work load lightened, and it is a special family time for everyone. A new baby doesn’t come along any old day. It’s a life changing event. Relish that time.

Prepare for nursing

Apply a sterile, medical grade lanolin cream (or some other type of healing nipple cream) to your nipples daily a few weeks prior to giving birth. Then faithfully apply it after each nursing session. You will avoid cracked, bleeding nipples this way, and your breasts will adjust more quickly to nursing. If you find that nursing isn’t working for you or your baby after pursuing professional help, give yourself emotional permission to quit.

While I’m an avid fan of nursing…I know too many women who have honestly done all they can do to make it a reality…and they are unable, medically, to provide the necessary nourishment for their baby. Nursing is not a sign of spiritual health. Let it go if you must, and enjoy the little life God has given to you without the added emotional pressure.

Drink lots of fluids and take a good vitamin supplement

I recommend Life Time Professional Prenatal vitamins along with a dose of 6 pure fish oil/flax seed oil capsules per day. This will help provide the nutrients/vitamins and minerals in the proper percentages/doses your body needs for maximum healing and recovery. It will also give you extra energy and a feeling of well-being. For more information, see my blog article on Fertility in Your 40s (Update— Or, read the new ebook, Three Decades of Fertility!) where I review the book, Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn M. Shannon.

Heal your perineum

The best way to do this is to consistently keep it clean. I recommend at least one warm bath a day with a few drops of lavender essential oil and some therapeutic bath salts (this brand combines the two).

In addition to this, after you use the bathroom each time, first spray your bottom with warm water (usually the hospital will send you home with a squeeze bottle for this purpose, AND if you put a few drops of lavender essential oil in the water, it will be even more effective), and then gently wipe with a Tucks witch hazel pad (you can make your own too, but these are very convenient) directly on the sore perineum. This will wipe away any bacteria, blood, etc. as well as provide a cooling relief to that area. Witch hazel is very healing as well, and if you are consistent, you will find that area healing up very nicely in no time at all.

Dealing with the Baby Blues

Accept the blues when they sweep over you, and remind yourself that they’ll be sweeping away again soon. Normal baby blues are like the ocean tide. They come in and they go out. Daily. If you start noticing that they are not ebbing away in intervals, then you may need to seek the help of a friend, counselor, or health practitioner.

Many (not all) baby blues that persist in hanging around are due largely to unhealthy thought patterns that we so easily fall prey to when we are in the middle of this vulnerable time of healing. Anger, feelings of being unfairly dealt with, resentment when others close to us can’t seem to understand where we are at…all these things can build up into what feels like an insurmountable, overwhelming obstacle of pain.

The key to breaking out of this negative cycle is accepting the fact that most people around you cannot understand or meet your deepest needs at this time, but that your Heavenly Father can completely understand where you are at, and promises to sustain and restore you if you will turn to Him for your ultimate comfort and satisfaction.

This is not a time to put your relationship with Jesus on hold, but quite the opposite. It is a time for reaching out to Him more fully, embracing His plan, finding joy in His presence, and focusing on purposeful thanksgiving for the blessing of a new life and all that it means for eternity.

May God give every one of you a precious peace and rest when it comes time to enter a postpartum season! (I’ll be entering another one myself, Lord willing, in just three weeks!)

P.S. Check out Three Decades of Fertility, a book written by ten older women who had babies into their 40s. It’s packed with practical wisdom for young moms, and it points to God’s faithfulness in these busy mama years.

These postpartum rest and recovery tips are very invaluable – they're from a mom who unfortunately had to learn the hard way! Read this and take note so you can enjoy the first few weeks with your new baby – to the fullest!

How do you ensure that you get the postpartum rest that you need?

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  1. This post is so valuable to me as we are preparing to welcome our first child due early May. I am 100% type A personality and I am reading more and more about the need to let myself rest and relax those first few weeks postpartum. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I would add, ask friends or older children to come and sit with you and talk and “entertain” you. My children are still small (they were 3.5 and 2 when my third baby was born last summer) so they weren’t very good companions, at least not for more than a few minutes. But when they were downstairs and so were all the adults in the house, going about life as usual, and I was either completely alone or alone with my newborn upstairs, I felt bored and sad and isolated. When a friend came to visit several hours after birth (I had the baby at home), I got to lay in bed while she snuggled the baby and we talked. I didn’t “do” anything, but I felt so much better, just having someone to talk to. Use the early days to talk to friends — invite them for a chat, call them on the phone, Skype with them. If your kids are older or your husband or mother are around, use the time to have heartfelt chats with them. It’s a great use of your time, when you’re not sleeping. 🙂

    1. I second this! I was instructed by my midwives to stay in bed for a full three days after childbirth, and I thought it would be easy… it wasn’t! I felt the lack of company too, especially as most of my friends at the time (we’re military and were in a fairly new area) weren’t homebirth Moms and felt that because I had the baby at home, I didn’t want visitors!! This could not have further from the truth!

  3. My husbands’ words to me, early on, were “do one thing a day”. This could be taking out the trash or unloading the dishwasher. But when we had our first and I was in a haze of figuring it all out, I started to feel the type-a pressure to get things in order around our house. Cue the tears and feelings of inadequacy. His advice was good for me and helped me a lot. Just get one thing done, take care of the baby (most importantly) and take it one day at a time.

  4. I’m not a type A (by a long shot) but I do tend to feel the pressure of others when I’m not living in my own home. My husband is currently deployed, and I will be delivering my baby at a birth center without him in June, and then living with my in-laws for the couple months until he returns. This excellent post is full of great reminders. I will have a lot of help, but my in-laws also tend to be very busy people, so everything I can do to prepare before baby #3 arrives, the better!

    1. Hey Cheryn… just wanted to encourage you to hang in there! My husband was deployed when our daughter (baby #2 was born). He got home 4 months later… It was an emotionally trying time but we got through it and it has made me a much stronger person today. I definitely cherish time with others more than I did before military life.

      Blessings to you and best of luck!

  5. I nursed my DD now 21 mos old and am pregnant with my second DD. I nursed my first until 19 mos when I realized I was pregnant and could wean her. She struggled with latching on at the hospital so we used a nipple shield and I never had pain or cracking on the nipples. If this is a struggle then this is a great way to go, it doesn’t crack because basically as the baby sucks your nipple is covered in breast milk. I recommend breast milk expressed on to the nipples and air dried to help with soreness and cracking and it is safe for baby, whereas Lanolin you are supposed to wipe off so baby doesn’t ingest. Also I highly recommend La Leche League for any questions you might have!

  6. Wow, this post really addressed some issues I had after giving birth to my son 4 1/2 years ago. We will be having a baby girl in March and I am so thankful for this advice from a veteran mom. Thank you so much!

  7. Lots of encouragement and advice! I took six weeks off from homeschool with our youngest babes. I have never regretted it! We call it a “babymoon”. Finally with my youngest…I actually rested two weeks. It was wonderful and worth it!

  8. Wow this was amazing- Thank you so much. I just sent it to my DH. I definitely am ‘Type A’ I loved this :
    ‘Why, I was NOT about to lay around doing NOTHING for weeks on end. How boring and depressing!’
    so true! After DD was born (at home, 5 months ago) I felt great- really! and was up cooking, washing dishes etc a day or two after her birth. My MW was mad at me for that! I just hate resting… I never crashed as some people said I would, but it did catch up to me after a while. Now it is going to very hard for me to rest when we have baby #2 and so on… we don’t have any family to come stay with us so I guess DH will have to take a bit of time off and then I’ll be on my own.

  9. Unfortunately, it took baby number 4 for me to come up with the idea of staying in my PJ’s all day for the 1st 2 weeks. It put me in a resting mindset. When I was normally dressed, I pushed myself to hard and bleeding got heavier. Sadly, I won’t be taking my own advice again since my pregnancy days are now over.

  10. What a beautiful post! Wish I had this two pregnancies ago! (Although of course I wouldn’t have listened. 🙂

  11. I would add: Print this article – give it to your husband to read. Seriously. Beyond a vague “holy cow, my wife just went through a lot…and I should probably take care of her”…we don’t naturally know much. 🙂

  12. This is so helpful and timely for me. I wondered why I bled so long the first time, and it’s definitely because I was doing too much too soon. I think I’m just now accepting that I’m type A… 🙂

  13. This is excellent – thank you!!!

    Tip for postpartum blues – placenta medicine works SO WELL to help prevent and treat this – sounds yucky, but it is awesome!

    Will be sharing!!!

    1. Diana,

      my thoughts exactly. i am encapsulating my placenta with my fourth…due in 2 weeks! I look forward to not riding the emotional roller coaster 🙂

      1. Laura, good luck with that! Placenta encapsulation helped me SO MUCH last time, and this time I did smoothies – same thing. I wish more people knew about this awesome resource!!

  14. When our third was born, I was up priming and painting the older kids’ new bedroom within a week. I pretty much continued in that manner and it was a HUGE mistake. I didn’t recover as well as I should have, and had a lot of trouble nursing because I wasn’t resting enough.

    When our fourth was born nearly a year ago, I made a point of resting. We took a month off homeschooling and I made sure and had some meals in the freezer and plenty of “easy” stuff around. Unfortunately, everyone but the baby came down with the stomach flu that first week and I had to be up and around more that I had planned, but I kept it to the minimum as much as I could. I let whatever didn’t absolutely need my attention go.

    The difference? I felt SO much better SO much quicker! I know it’s hard, but getting the rest is WORTH it! 🙂

  15. Really helpful! I think I have learned a lot of these the hard way too, and am looking forward to living near a lot more family (help!) this coming time!

    I would add that if a mom isn’t able to solely breast-feed that it is still an excellent idea to keep nursing as much as possible, supplementing with a quality formula (home-made, store-bought, enriched) until baby is ready for solids, by which point the solids may take over for the formula, leaving a mom & baby still in a nursing relationship for as long as both want. Another option is accepting extra breast milk from a friend whom you know and trust. I donated my extra milk to a friend who had adopted- there were 6 of us from our church who did this- and so that little guy was able to be fully half breast-fed (more at times)! Not bad for a baby with a really rocky prenatal start! I know my maternal grandmother nursed 15 babies of her own in addition to supplementing at least a dozen of her friends’– it used to be done all the time!

  16. What great advice! As a mama of ten children with another blessing on the way, I tend to not stay down as my midwife instructs me to. It’s so hard!
    For me, I don’t feel too badly about letting my older children take care of things…. that is what I’m training them to do! 😉
    I actually get huge at the end of my pregnancy and I want to move around again after having the baby! 😀
    I’ve told myself that I will try to do better this time. (wink, wink)

  17. I just loved this post! So much of it focused on what we as new moms NEED to know to expect post-partum but that no one ever tells the new moms. Thank YOU for sharing this with the world. I’ve shared the post with my expectant sister in-law. She’ll be having her first within a month or so. God Bless!

  18. This was great and I wish I had read it 20 years ago. I have seven children and, like you, I had to learn the hard way. Taking easy for 3-4 weeks meant that I felt REALLY good by 6 weeks. Not doing so meant that I was still struggling at 3 months. I hope young mothers can really hear the wisdom you offer.

  19. This is one of the best articles on this topic I have read! Excellent post, Natalie! I so appreciated your thoughts–releasing, not condemning; advising but not dictating; practical but also spiritual…and reminding us that this is just for a short (but necessary) season. I had severe health issues following the birth of our second…such that we actually “took that opportunity” to adopt our third child. I am now pregnant and due in July but am already planning ahead for what the first 1-2 months will look like–very different from the first 1-2 months following my first two births and our adoption, and very similar to what you’re describing. It’s helpful to hear advice confirming some of the conclusions my husband and I have come to, and I’m going to share this article with my husband.

  20. These are good reminders for me, I am due any time now in the next few weeks.

    One huge thing for me, especially having winter babies, is that I need to go to bed on time, things get worse at night in the dark. I can’t go to bed before the darkness hits (since that would be supper time or earlier!) but I can realize that everything seems worse to me when I am postpartum and its dark outside.

    1. I did the same thing. I remember being the most emotional/introspective at night.

      And the baby in which I had the PPD was my 2nd and a winter baby! It’s also hard when it’s freezing cold outside and not as easy to get out into the sunshine. 🙂

      So, you’re definitely not alone.

  21. Good tips! I made the same mistakes with my first and really paid for it. With the second I stayed in bed for a good week and had totally different priorities. I did freezer meals and had help lined up. Much easier transition!
    I have to admit the wiping advice sounds scary, but I’ve always had stitches. I really love Earth Mama Angel Baby products, especially the New Mama Bottom Spray. Love that stuff. (Pretty sure there is witch hazel in there.) I also make these frozen pads w lavender EO, aloe juice and witch hazel. 🙂

  22. Love this! I recently had my third child and despite absolute chaos in my life at that time, I insited on proper rest, allowed the little things to slide and came out on the other side in a much better place than I had with my first two children. I wish I had read something like this 5 years ago!!

    I hope many women read this and benefit from it!

  23. This is so helpful! I am due with #3 in Sept and my other two will be 7 and 2. I’ll also be homeschooling. I was worried about doing that, having a toddler, and building a good nursing relationship. With my second I got smart and camped on the couch for a few weeks. It was the best advice. I didn’t go any where much, I had everything within reach, and I had my mom come and help with my oldest. With my next, I’ll have mom come and help out for a week and I’ll camp out.

    I was also so scared of my kids dieing after the birth of each. It was so irrational but the fear was real. Thanks for adding that in there so I know I wasn’t alone.

    And thanks for the lanolin tip! I wish someone would of told me that before my second. I had horrible cracked bleeding nipples for the first 4 weeks. I almost couldn’t take it. Then things started getting better and I’m still nursing now. I’ll definitely do that this time!

  24. Good advice! I would caution about using the lanolin in that manner, though. It can actually cause nipple soreness, by making the nipple/areola slippery and causing the baby’s mouth to slide to just the tip. Obviously, though, each mama finds her own helpful techniques.

  25. This was very good advise.. I am due with #8 in 6 weeks.. I am for sure the Type A person, and I need this reminder to take care of myself and baby.. After this many I also finally learned to appreciate that early time as it goes by so quickly.. After #5 I really went downhill and that’s when I began to realize I have to take time to care for myself.. Thank you for the reminder..

  26. Thank you, thank you, for sharing your story! I dealt with PPD after the birth of my 2nd child and it’s such a difficult thing to go through, especially when so many make light of it.

  27. Thank you for this post! I am pregnant with my third baby, but my past two have been under very unusual circumstances and I did not do a great job during recovery. My first was still born at 29 weeks and I made the mistake of trying to go back to work after two weeks. Not a wise move. My sweet daughter (now almost 2) was born via emergency c-section at 31 weeks. After three days in the hospital I spent the next 5 weeks going back and forth to the hospital every day until she came home. Even when she came home I didn’t give myself a lot of time to rest and recover and I was a wreck for a while! I’m hoping to put more of these into practice this time around! We’ll see how this pregnancy and delivery go!

  28. I think it’s really nice to take the pressure off of women but I personally would go crazy. I’m one of those crazy people who made dinner 2 hours after giving birth. I wouldn’t do it again because it took a toll on me that night but generally I get right with it if I’m feeling good. I’m due in 7 weeks with #4 and milk our cow twice a day. I’m so concerned for her during the few days postpartum as there aren’t many people around here that milk cows. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable having people in my house all the time because I would feel like I needed to serve them. All I’m saying is everyone is different and sometimes I feel uncomfortable with all the pressure to lay down or let people bring me meals. I know most people think I’m proud but I truly just hate sitting around! I probably will take a break from homeschooling for a couple weeks but I enjoy that so much too that I’m hopeful we can resume as soon as possible. Women should just listen to their bodies and realize there’s no set standard for postpartum behavior! I so admire all you ladies on your 7th, 8th, and 9th pregnancies! That’s so awesome…you are truly blessed 🙂

  29. This is all just so true!

    I am very “type A”. It worked after the birth of my first. But, when my second came along just 14 months later and I attempted to keep the same break-neck pace… Well, it was me who broke. I was exhausted, emotionally wrecked, and fell into post partum depression (that I should have seeked help dealing with).

    With my third, I did a little better at taking things slower. And convinced my husband to take a couple days off work.

    With my fourth, I birthed at home which was so much more restful (the daytime hours of birth helped too). My husband took a full week off and really stepped up to let me rest and restore. The difference was amazing! Both physically (I only bled for 4 weeks vs my usual 8), emotionally, and spiritually.

    I am now expecting my fifth. My children are young (6, 5, 3, 20 months) and if we (my husband and I) aren’t intentional about my healing time, it just won’t happen… I most certainly will be putting all my lessons learned into practice!

  30. Excellent article! I appreciate women who UNDERSTAND. After getting married in ’07, we had 3 babies 3 years in a row. Terrible pregnancies, terrible recoveries. We were also to arrogant to ask for help. We wanted to prove that it wasn’t so hard. But it is hard! There’s no way we can get through life alone and make it work right, especially when having babies. It’s so unreasonable to expect women to be like Superman. We’re just human beings. We have very weak bodies that need help coping with day-to-day essentials.

    I’m so glad women are being encouraged not to feel guilty or ashamed after childbirth. Far too many people out there believe it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It is a big deal. Recovery doesn’t just happen. Some people need more help than others, and we need to be sensitive to that.

  31. Very good advice. In “my day”.. the hospital stay was 5 days and I took full advantage of it. Helped a great deal!! Just have to make one comment concerning a comment Wemmick girl made…she said, “most people around you cannot understand or meet your deepest needs at this time”. Truth is … they can’t at any time. There is great freedom for yourself and others once you learn to accept the love and concern people offer…. and then run to Jesus Christ for what you really need. (I know what I know…. and that I know.) =)

  32. Wow thanks! I am pregnant with my sixth baby (due 5/17/2012) and my last one I hemorrhaged and bled a lot. I am going print this out and implement this for myself. Thanks for the tips! God Bless!

  33. I wanted to thank you for this post. It came at a very valuable time for me, as I my due date for our 6th was also about 3 weeks away at the posting of it. I read it and it helped convince me that I need to think about things differently after birth this time. My husband agreed whole-heartedly. Noah Matthew arrived this past Monday morning and so far we’ve made great efforts to make sure that I am off my feet and resting more. We prepared better prior to delivery and I am taking all the help that I can get. Thank you for blessing us with your insights and wisdom.

  34. Thank you for this absolutely wonderful article. I was thinking a week of rest but now that the week is here I had changed my mind. Feeling a bit guilty for being on my room just loving this bonding time but feeling I neex more time for bonding and rest. Your article has left me feeling guilt free now about taking a bit more time. Doing everything so soon just makes for a longer and harder recovery of which I am not wantong to do to myself. I have done that with my prior deliveries and it causex just that. I asked my family for some recovery time and I am indeed getting just that. My husband has taken over cooking the meals and laundry, wbile my older children straighten up the house that they mess up for the most part. It is working out well. The time flies by so fast as it is so why rush anything. Before you know it the kids are graduating high school and preparing for college or working. I love being a mother and there is nothing that even comes close to the feeling of motherhood. I hope more women and men read this article and understand just how important post pardum recovery rest time is. Wishing you a happy birthing experience.

  35. I wish that I had found this years ago….not that I would have listened maybe…but it is so true. And beautiful! Bless you for helping new (or repeat new) mothers!

  36. I wish that I had found this years ago….not that I would have listened maybe…but it is so true. And beautiful! Bless you for helping new (or repeat new) mothers!

  37. Just reading this, and I’m due in February of ’13. SUCH A GOOD ARTICLE!! I’m pinning so I can actually refer to and remember the ideas. Again, this is a GREAT article!

  38. I am scheduled for a c section in 4 days. I am totally Type A personality. I so needed to read this. Thank you so much.

  39. Wonderful article. I would like to add, drastically limit hospital visitors. With my second I did we did grandparents only and I was able to sleep a lot in the hospital. I won’t lie some people were upset when they were told they needed to wait to met the baby. With the next I plan on limiting it even more, Dad and the kiddos only.

    1. GREAT POINT April! I also limit my hospital visitors to immediate family only. It has helped tremendously with getting needed rest.

  40. this was so refreshing to read. Im a mother of 3 about to have our 4th. And I am such a type A personality. I always come home from the hospital and get right on my feet and please everyone coming over and making sure the house is clean and don’t miss a beat.
    Glad to hear Im not the only one!

  41. Perfect article! I can relate with you almost word for word! I’m about to have my second wondering how I’m gonna juggle it all with my type A personality and my 2 year old toddler. This nesting thing has hit me, that or it’s just my type A, and I’ve been going crazy getting organized and super clean. I keep telling myself if I get all the done, I can relax when my 2nd gets here but in the back of my mind I know I probably won’t. So it was refreshing to read and a great reminder that I do need to give myself time to rest postpartum. So glad I found this on Pinterest

  42. WoW! Thank you! Wish I had read this 4 months ago! We had our 1st in June 2012. Thank you for sharing and validating the many things I have felt!

  43. This is so good to read. With my first, we moved TWO weeks after I gave birth. I felt the pressure to get packed/unpacked and organize everything. I also had my parents come from 10 hours away and didn’t feel comfortable asking them to leave so I could sleep (We were in a two bedroom at the time, so they were staying in a hotel). I bled so heavily that they thought I had retained placental fragments and ended up developing PPD that lasted at least six months.

    I have been terrified of having our second now, despite knowing that things will be much different. I LOVE the advice that this is not the time to allow your relationship with Christ to suffer. I felt very removed from God at that point in my life and I plan on taking it easy and spending plenty of time reading the Bible this time around. I am sure that will help a LOT. I’m also planning on letting everyone who isn’t helping with the kids to only visit for 2 hours a day so that I can spend the rest of the time resting! It might be a long drive for a short amount of visiting, but I need to take care of myself this time around.

  44. About a year and a half ago, our 3 week old son died from complications of a birth defect. We definitely learned to accept help during that time, and let me tell you it’s been a huge blessing ever since! I’m very much a type A personality, but with regard to accepting service, it’s a whole different story! During those busy, stressful first few weeks after having a baby, it’s not only OK to take it easy and accept help, it helps others too! Your friends and family WANT to help out! Let them! It’ll be better all around! Every time you accept service, you’re allowing blessings to be poured out upon those who serve you. 🙂

  45. I have two Kylie which is 2 and Brodie is 10 months I had postpardom depression with Brodie baddy so bad it lasted up until he was 8 months then I decided to treat with mess bc it was so bad I feel like no one know what I have gone through to feel like you don’t enjoy being a mother is the worst feeling a mother can have thank you so much for this god blesss

  46. I think these are great suggestions. I also recommend a sitz bath of a comfrey and calendula tea and for women who have suffered from hemorrhage, red root. These herbs are extremely healing and red root will help to protect against infection.

  47. Reading this made me want to cry…how awesome. My daughter is a year old now but how I wish I had this when my daughter was born. I dealt with every thing mentioned and your advice was like balm for my heart. I will save this and read it again when it’s time for #2.

  48. Great points and an important reminder to give ourselves permission to relax and not feel guilty about it. At the same time, if you feel up like your body can do and you want to, also feel free to be active. I started walking at 2 wks and it felt AMAZING. I was so excited to start exercising again. At the same time, my friend who gave birth at the same time wouldn’t dream of leaving the house and I wouldn’t ever undermine her choices. So make sure that you surround yourself with people who give you space or help if you need it and support you if you want to stay home forever or get out of the house right away.

  49. Very accurate and helpful article! We are expecting our 3rd and definitely fell victim to my
    Type A personality. I had very hard recoveries and PPD that seemed to never end. I need to remember these things this time around!
    To the women who will be staying with your in-laws, I have been there and will be again this time. I find that I put more pressure on myself because I feel like I am being observed and judged. Not true! But it certainly feels that way, especially with the first. Try to keep perspective!

  50. What a wonderful article! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for including the nursing issue! I have four under five and it seems like we were thrown a curve after the birth of each one of them! My oldest was in the nicu for two weeks and the hospital had no room for me so I walked from our hotel room to the hospital for each feeding. This effected my milk supply so much that I could not nurse, the nicu nurses tried their best to assure me that my son would be just as healthy with formula but I still received judgment and condemnation from most other moms for giving in. When my second was born we were in the process of moving cross country (we are military) and again I could not produce, but because of what had happened the first time I tried to force it and went into a depression. Five days after my third was born my husband went to Afghanistan for seven months and again I could not nurse and went into a depression. This time around however my parents lived close by and for the first time I accepted the help of others and it really made such an amazing difference. With my last one, who was born this year, my husband was home for two weeks before deploying with a ship and i flew cross country to stay with my parents for three months. Again I could not nurse but I did not go through a depression because I had finally realized that I was just not made to nurse. I have had the amazing support of my husband, family and friends and it has made a gigantic difference in my postpartum recovery to just let go. One thing that I would like to add (my last three were csections because of the complications that made vaginal birth dangerous for my health) is that if you need a cesection walk within your first 24 hr period. Do not spend all your time moving about when you get home but while under the care of the nurses make it a priority to walk often before you leave the hospital. It will greatly aid your recovery time. I was immobile for 7 weeks with my first csection and the doctors blamed it on the vertigo that occurred after surgery which kept me laying down and in bed for almost 48 hours after birth. I was walking and climbing stairs the day after I left the hospital (I wouldn’t recommend it but there was no way I was not going to see my husband off) without pain when I had followed the nurses instructions and walked the same day of my next csection. I know this is anecdotal but I know of several others who had very similar results after their surgeries.

  51. What do you know about flax seed oil and breast feeding. A google search said its not recommended. Would you say to just take fish oil capsules if breast feeding?

    1. There are differing opinions, but I can’t find anything that gives a solid reason WHY other than potential rancidity. Others say go ahead and give babies flaxseed oil from 6 months on. I take both fish oil and flaxseed oil when I’m pregnant and nursing, and I have to take responsibility for my own choice and the potential good or bad consequences of that choice. But as with anything, everyone needs to do their own research and make their own informed decision. Cheers! 🙂

  52. Thank you for this article, I wish I had read it after my second son was born. The first time around I gave myself permission to ‘go with the flow’ and took my time with recovery. For whatever reason, the second time around I expected to jump right back into my routine the minute we were back from the hospital. I cooked, I cleaned, I took my older son to museums, I hosted dinner parties, I hosted relatives – I basically wore myself out. All seemed fine until weeks later I crashed and fell into some mild postpartum depression. When I spoke to my doctor she ordered me to scale it back, get take out, hire a cleaning lady, enlist relatives/friends to take my older son on outings etc… It was what I needed to recover from labour. If were to do it again, I’d really listen to the advice in your article and plan to keep things low-key for the first little while.

  53. Hi Natalie,
    I was teary eyed while reading your blog. I remember all the postpartum craziness i went through on my first pregnancy. And now, I am expecting again, I just can’t help but to feel the emotions come rushing to me once again. It was such a blessing that I came across to your blog, and reminded me that I am not a superwoman and I have limitations. I have to accept all the mistakes that will come along with the babies. I have to remind myself that above everything, the baby, the feeding time, the managing of family, God should go first, because he is my source of strength. Thank you so much! your blog uplifted my spirit. May you touch many moms out there. God bless you

  54. Thank you so much for this article! Baby 4 is on the way and type A me will definitely be doing things differently this time around!

  55. I wish I would’ve had this when I had my first baby! The second was much easier to relax. I’m sending this to my sister in law who is having her first next month. Awesome article.

  56. GREAT article! I am blessed with a mom who comes to stay with the bonus of my 20 years younger than me super entertaining to my kids brother. For a month. And her rule is not out of jammies for two weeks unless baby blues are hitting. Then it is time to go someplace enjoyable. But she drives 🙂
    I should also credit my dad who gives her up for a month and the rest of my family who pick up the slack to care for my special needs bro

    1. Great article! I also love the idea of staying in your PJs for one week. I did this with my four and it really helps. No temptation to go out. Just stay home and rest. Of course, shower and bathe each day then change into a clean nursing gown.

  57. What a great article; wish I read/found this before I had my daughter. I am very type A and the beginning of this article described me and my behavior after deliver to a T. I am relieved to know that I’m not the only one who went through that. Next time around (if there is), I will certainly take your advice!

  58. My baby boy is two months this week! I, too, am a “Type-A” personality. The biggest thing that surprised me with the recovery process were all of the postpartum emotions. Boy, have I cried. Seriously, I have cried more during the past two months than I have ever as an adult. But each week, I have felt more and more mobile and have been able to get out more. I’ve visited friends, have had many visitors, have gone to church since week 3, and have joined a women’s Bible study. I am thankful that I am fully healed (physically) and the blues have been less and less the past couple of weeks. 🙂

  59. What a great article! You described me perfectly! I will be 37 next year and we are hoping to add a chick to our nest, my kids will be 5 and 4 when this one hopefully comes. So I am a little rusty on the postpartum thing. Thank you for sharing, especially about the school, I haven’t thought of that.

  60. Great article! I just had my second child six weeks ago and right at this very moment I needed yours words of encouragement with the Lord. I thank him for using you to speak to me. Bless you.

  61. I just had a baby three days ago, you have no idea how much this post means to me right now. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words of advice. It is incredibly helpful.

  62. YES! Yes, your article is right on target! I was so so fortunate to learn all of this through my mom, as she birthed and healed after birth several times when I was old enough to learn from her (and also to help her!) After my births, EVERYTHING is off the table short of going to the bathroom, eating and breastfeeding the baby. Anything you WANT to do, you only do while sitting or lying somewhere comfy. It continues to amaze me how understated and underestimated the post-partum time is for Americans. STOP everything. Find a way to stop. You WILL pay later if you interfere with this vital time!

  63. So many mamas learn the hard way, it is my dream to change this.
    Insomnia, excessive bleeding, mood disorders can all be easily avoided by following simple guidelines of natural postpartum care practices. This includes deep rest, proper support, a healing postpartum diet, oil massage (or self-application) and time for self reflection like prayer, deep breathing or meditation.
    These guidelines are from Ayurveda’s (the natural healing science of India) postpartum care system that is simple and has been helping mamas have strong and healthy recoveries for 1000’s of years.
    My prayer is to make natural postpartum care practices common knowledge and that postpartum care becomes an integral part of perinatal care in our society as a whole.

  64. I know this is an oldie but it’s a goodie. I really, really needed to hear this. Thank you for writing such a great piece.

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