We spend so much time preparing for labor & birth and baby stuff, we often forget to prepare for our own recovery after birth (known as the postpartum period or 4th trimester).
I was the same. My day was spent nursing, healing cracked nipples, nursing, sitting in stiz baths, nursing, sitting on a donut pillow, nursing, wondering when I could take a shower, nursing, unable to grab my snacks, nursing…get the pattern? I was overwhelmed by the newness of my healing postpartum body, learning how to breastfeed and how to keep a tiny human alive and thriving AND keep up with my pre-birth American life.
That’s where I went wrong. I was trying to keep up with what I thought other American mothers were doing just days after delivery, and I could barely get food or a shower into my day.
I was reminded a couple of weeks into my parenthood by my Mexican cousins about the postpartum Cuarentena; 6-weeks of lying in to optimize postpartum healing and to help baby transition easily from the womb world to the outside world.
This Cuarentena lying in practice enables the brither’s body to recover more efficiently and effectively as it allows the uterus to cramp back to its regular size and back into its correct alignment and position. It also helps lessen your postpartum bleeding, allows your perineum or cesarean incision feel better, calms swollen legs and feet, and gives your organs time to reposition to their old homes. Plus it benefits your breastmilk supply as you an focus on your baby and catch their early hunger cues to boost your milk supply.
And there are benefits to baby too – you are HOME to your baby. Your baby goes through a crazy roller-coaster of birth, and its bright, cold, loud and so.much.space out here that babies are out of their element for awhile. When mothers practice lying in, they hold their babies more which makes your baby feel more secure as your body will feel, smell, sound and taste like their womb home.
You are your baby’s home. These first 3months are an extension of the pregnancy for your baby.
But 6 WEEKS lying in?! Ugh, I was two weeks in and already sick of seeing the same four walls.
How about a 5-5-5 rule instead? So much more doable. A rule of thumb to a healthier postpartum is a lying in period that is only 15days.
5 days IN bed – Stay in bed or on the couch. The goal is to be off your feet and allow others to serve you. This is the beginning of your babymoon, where you chill with baby in bed, skin-to-skin and learn who they are and their personality.
5 days ON bed – No more than 30min cumulatively on your feet within a 3hr cycle. Getting sick of being only inside your house? Great, go get the mail and come back and sit/lie down. Make some lactation energy balls, and then go chill with baby and Netflix for awhile. The goal is to still rest as much as you can, with minimal time on your feet.
5 days NEAR bed – No more than 30min cumulatively on your feet within a 90min cycle. Maybe you are now feeling like taking on one household activity per day, some stretches or yoga. But rest is still the utmost importance. Do not take on all your previous responsibilities yet.
Note, if you are recovering from a cesarean birth then the recommendation changes to the 7-7-7 rule: 7 days IN bed, 7 days ON bed and 7 days NEAR bed.
Begin to make plans now in pregnancy to give yourself the gift of 15days of lying in and getting to know your baby. Focusing on your well-being first will help you care for baby in amazing ways!
Happy Postpartum Friends!
Alexia the Doula
Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator & Postpartum Doula serving Minneapolis, St Paul and the greater Twin Cities area.