For nine months, you sacrificed a lot for the little growing human you created with your partner. As much as we would like to hope and believe, we don’t just snap back into shape with delivery. It takes a lot for things to settle back in to place.
How can you make better use of this transitional time all while caring for a new baby?
We have a few ideas for you.
Have you heard of the 5-5-5 method? It’s simple, 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, and 5 days near the bed. So what does this mean? It means you get two weeks of self care; intentional care. This is a critical time, especially if you choose to breast feed your infant. It is also helpful to keep visitors to a minimum during this time. If you can stick to this rule, you will heal much faster from child birth.
Even though this rule of thumb is for a period of two weeks, it can take a full 6 weeks and beyond to recover from childbirth.
During the postpartum time, your hormones will be all over the map as they reset to your baseline. This process can be difficult for many women. You may experience mood swings, heightened anxiety or depression, or even anger for no reason. You may find you cry more easily and struggle to handle stress like you used to. This is all normal, but not fun. Make sure you see your Ob/Gyn if these symptoms become overwhelming and persistent.
At about 6 months postpartum, most women’s hormones will have returned to baseline. This is also the time when you can expect your cycle to return. If you continue to breastfeed beyond this time, keep in mind your prolactin will remain high and your estrogen suppressed. Just a word of caution, don’t count on breastfeeding as a means of ‘birth’ control. You can still get pregnant, even if you are breastfeeding exclusively.
Another helpful piece of advice for postpartum care is improving your diet. It’s a good time to reset your nutrition and make sure you are getting plenty of fiber, protein and healthy carbs.
Focus your energy on regaining some muscle and endurance during this time as well. It doesn’t have to be a big regimen but a walk around in the morning and in the evening will help your hormones get regulated and increase your sleep hygiene. Morning sun, sets your circadian rhythm up for success and this means a better night sleep. An evening walk after dinner, helps to lower cortisol and process the stressors of the day.
Finally, don’t skip out on your 6 week follow up with your doctor. This is an important time to review your mental health, physical health and any birth control methods you would like to begin. It’s also a perfect time to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.