This post provides helpful advice on how to create a supportive environment during postpartum recovery. It has my own personal story to help you feel validated and what I wish I would have done and things I did to help me recover and enjoy this time of my life experience.
We had our baby girl at home. (Yep, it was a home birth and we all survived.. shocker?) And if you read her birth story, you will find what a tough labor it was. All night long. 16 hours. I had little to eat, I had been sick the day before. And she was posterior and had to be turned.
Needless to say, it was tough, and so the moment our little angel was born my body just said, “I quit” and went back to having a cold and continued being exhausted.
I had a few people tell me how hard recovery can be, and so the shock of how things were postpartum wasn’t so drastic, but at the same time, it was the most challenging thing we have ever done.
Bradlee (my husband) only had one week off from work. And that entire week, I was told not to get up out of bed because of my blood pressure dropping and every time I would stand up I would get light headed and/or faint.
I had to crawl to the bathroom that entire week….
I couldn’t even hold my sweet new baby girl and walk around! I was constrained to bed to heal. Bradlee had to do everything for both of us. And he was a champ! He did incredibly. He entered a whole other realm of superhero status.
So, you can imagine when B went back to work, I was not able to get by on my own right away. But, really, what mother with a week old baby should get by on her own? I believe this is the fall of our society and the reason for the rise in postpartum depression and anxiety. And my sweet, crunchy, old-school midwife was very stern with me when she visited at the end of the first week and Bradlee was going back to work. She told me I am REQUIRED to have someone come by the home every day for part or most of the day for the next two weeks. That I was not to be left alone. And this is my first rule in recovering healthily from having babies… Specifically your first baby.
#1 Plan for someone to be present with you for AT LEAST 3 weeks postpartum.
And these people are not there to just chat, so choose wisely, this is the ultimate test for the people who will love you unconditionally. They are scheduled in shifts like they are coming in to work. Let them know when you are scheduling them that they are going to be coming by to do dishes, do your laundry, cook a meal, and ultimately to hold your baby for a while so mom gets a break.
I had no idea a number of times I would cry after having our girl. I didn’t grasp that they take your every moment of every day. 24/7. You never get a break. You are their mother. They are completely reliant on you. There is no rest. They want your love and every bit of you. Especially for me, our baby Belles did not sleep more than one hour at a time for the first two months. I was severely sleep deprived, my boobs wouldn’t stop leaking and she was literally sucking the life out of me. This brings me to number two.
#2 Sleep schedule and train from the very beginning.
I had no idea that some babies sleep magically and beautifully and the parents are just happy and soaking up the oxytocin. Because mine was not a good sleeper, she didn’t know how to sleep, and I didn’t know how to teach her. Just get them into a routine, it’s truly best for you and the whole family and household really.
#3 Get a workout plan after six weeks.
Back to the basics of working out. When your body is ready, write down a VERY easy work out regime. (My body wasn’t ready until two months postpartum, and it’s recommended not to do any exercise until six weeks postpartum, take your time mama, you just pushed a human being out of your body.) See photo below for my very basic regime. (And feel free to contact me for a custom regime. I’d love to help!)
I worked out for only 10 MINUTES a day. Or, if I had had no sleep the night before because of our little monster baby, I would simply go for a walk. This minimal amount of exercise seriously saved me from any depression. I was self-caring. I was getting good endorphins. And when I would go for my walk I would be out of the house getting some Vitamin D. This brings me to my last bit of advice.
#4 Keep taking your vitamins and Remember Nutrition!
For me, I was restricted in the last month of my pregnancy to purely protein, veggies, and very light carbs. Because I had severe edema and was having trouble with high blood pressure. This sounds harsh for a pregnant lady because we should be able to eat whatever we please while we are a vessel for another being, right? But when I stuck to this diet, I was so much happier. I was instructed to be eating 100 grams of protein a day, and if I didn’t get every gram of protein in, I could feel it. I was nauseous and unwell.
So after you give birth to your little miracle, your body is working over time to restore itself again. So keep that protein up. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you need it.
Also, it was incredibly surprising to me to find so many new mommies not continuing to take their vitamins. It’s as though they think they only needed the prenatal to keep baby healthy in their belly, but that it becomes unnecessary after the baby is out. You couldn’t be more wrong. Again, especially if you are breastfeeding.
That little babe is sucking every nutrient out of you to continue to GROW THEIR BODY. It’s incredible what our bodies can do, ladies. Let’s treat it right.
My little girl is 4 months old now, and I still take my prenatal, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Liquid Iron, DHA (or fish oil), Vitamin B, Calcium and Magnesium. If you are exhausted even after twelve hours of sleep, you may be lacking in iron or magnesium. If you are breaking your bones left and right, it’s because your baby is taking all your Calcium to grow their bones. It’s nature’s science, use it to solve your bodily dysfunctions, try these vitamins before drugs and see how they might help! (I am NOT saying this will solve all those who have PPD, it is a serious mental disease when diagnosed and should be treated as such. If you do get PPD, as your doctor if these vitamins, as well as medication, would help! It doesn’t hurt to ask.)
There you have it. The four simple things I did to combat PPD and anxiety and my overall sanity in those first weeks/months of my postpartum experience. Ultimately, mamas, be kind to yourself. You just pushed a small human out of your body. Your hormones are bouncing off the walls from the nine-month build up of menstruation cycles. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna hurt. Live in the moment of becoming a mother, whether it be for the first time or the fourth time, and treat yourself to time and patience.
If you have any comments, questions or even more tips for all the mamas out there, please share below! Thanks for reading!