The Importance of Recovery Time After Birth
Mainstream media will tell you that “bouncing back” after birth is important. They will tell you it's something to envy, work toward, and to be rewarded. But what if all this pressure to be back to our “usual” selves means we aren't giving women's bodies and the childbirth process the respect it deserves?
After a disastrous recovery with my firstborn, I asked my midwife what I could do to ease the transition the second time around. Her response: “Take two weeks to focus on resting and doing as little as possible other than enjoying your baby.” While at first two weeks may seem extreme, taking the time to recover can be of great benefit to you, your baby, and your family.
Respect the Process
You either just pushed a baby out of your vagina or had one surgically removed from your uterus. Either way, your body needs rest. The childbirth process is extremely physically taxing on the mother, but it also takes a huge emotional toll. Having a couple of weeks to do nothing but eat, bathe, and learn about this little person you just brought into the world gives you the chance to recover and celebrate the miracle of birth.
Get a Head Start on Breastfeeding
Taking some time off from your regular duties after birth can also make a big difference in how quickly you're able to get breastfeeding off to a great start. If you're concentrating in the first week or two on resting and staying hydrated and well nourished, you'll be better situated to spend those early days perfecting the latch and nursing on demand — a critical component of establishing a full supply early on.
Involve Your Partner
If it's a work and financial possibility, having your partner also take a week or two off can be a great idea. It ensures that you actually do spend the time resting because your partner is there to take over any of your regular duties, such as cleaning or caring for other children as well as to handle the various dressing, changing, and spit-up cleaning tasks that come with a newborn. This also gives you time to bond as a family and your partner the chance to experience the wonder and challenges of those first weeks.
What if two full weeks — or even one week — off isn't going to work? If your partner can't be away from work, consider a postpartum doula or enlist the help of supportive friends and family who can help with the household tasks and ensure you're not alone as you recover. Bottom line: Take the time you can and make the most of it. It will pass all too quickly.