Happy basket buying!!
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!
For Cesarean Birth Moms, everything above plus:
Your healthcare provider may recommend the following medications. Please consult with your medical provider prior to taking any of the following medications.
Lastly, it is encouraged by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists you are seen by your prenatal provider within 2-3 weeks post-delivery and again within 12 weeks post-delivery to ensure optimal physical recovery. So call your prenatal health provider and schedule your appointment! You deserve the best postpartum care EVER!!
But now it’s been 5 days after baby’s birth, and dread is starting to settle in.
‘I haven’t pooped yet.’
You start to wonder if you ever will be able to push anything else out of your body again. ‘I mean, I’ve pushed a small ham out of my body, how hard can it be to push out a BM?!’ Pretty hard…pun intended.
Doesn’t matter if you’ve been a good patient taking your stool softeners like tictacs or not, the first postpartum poo can be a scary thing and nobody talks about it!
So let’s talk about it.
First and foremost, we need to discuss the fear factor. You’re probably worried about splitting your stitches (don’t worry, you won’t), hemorrhoids, experiencing intense pain (again…so soon…do I get a prize again, like sleep this time around?) or simply being embarrassed. But the sooner you get the deed done, at least once, all the fears will begin to dissipate.
So save yourself and follow these 6 tips for handling the first postpartum poo:
1. Get medicated: As you count your precious baby’s finger and toes, flag down your nurse for some ex-lax, tucks pads/witch hazel pads, cooling creams, stool softners, and mild laxatives. Then flag your partner for some wine…lots of it.
2. Move around: Go on short, easy walks around the block. DO NOT push yourself to walk the routine 1, 2, 3, etc miles you use to walk or run prior to birth. Your lochia (postpartum bleeding) will tell you if you’re pushing yourself too much. So an easy walk around the block once or twice can do wonders in getting things to move around and out. Even some gentle yoga can help.
3. Find a pooping buddy: So I’m not talking about someone sitting with you in the bathroom (unless you want that, then go for it!), but I’m talking about someone to care for the baby so you can concentrate on the deed and not have to worry about being interrupted because baby started to fuss. (postpartum doulas are great pooping buddies!)
4. Put down the French fries: Avoid fatty foods and low-fiber foods. Fibrous foods will be your friend during this time, such as beans, whole grains, bran cereals, fresh fruits and veggies are helpful in adding fiber to your diet. And wine….pretty sure wine has fiber….
5. Apply counter pressure: By applying counter pressure on your perineum with a cool tucks pad or frozen pad can make it so much easier to go without worrying about anything ripping. (Additional tip: Soak a sanitary napkin in water and then place in freezer. Take out when you’re ready to go poo.)
6. Seek out your healthcare provider if it doesn’t get better: After your first time pooing, you may encounter more issues with being able to go or find any regularity. That will get uncomfortable quickly (inside and as it makes its way out!). So put on your big girl pants and talk to your provider about what’s going on, especially if it hurts to go for more than a week or so. You may need a prescription to poo in a peaceful manner. No shame! Many mamas have been there….they just don’t talk about it with their friends or strangers (surprising, I know!).
Now that you have these tips in your back pocket to pull out after baby is out, I should probably also mention that no matter what it will still be uncomfortable. The whole situation in general is comfortable. So be kind to yourself, be gentle, be safe and avoid anything that is going to put stress on your body (like excessive visitors).
All these tips above should help things go smoother with less uncomfortableness overall. And if you want to feel better about yourself pooing, just pick up the great children’s book “Everyone Poops”.
Eat. Sleep. Poop.
That is the life of a newborn baby....and a postpartum mom.
A postpartum mom often finds herself starting the day feeding her baby, and may grab a piece of bread and eat it plain...cause it's at least food. She may have enough brain power from the the 3-5 hours of sleep the night before to grab an apple, but probably just go for the cup of coffee.
She'll sit in her nursing chair, nursing her baby most of the day. And then, it starts. The grumblings of her empty stomach, as it is now 2pm...way past lunch.
"What can I make? I have no food!"
Here is where I come in - A Super Easy Tasty Lunch! You don't need to have much in your fridge to create this lunch, just a can of beans and some dried pasta. Plus, you can add fresh or frozen veggies to this dish depending on what you have (or don't have) in the fridge or freezer.
So what are we making? It's a Creamy Pasta with Cannellini Bean Sauce. Most have some kind of dried pasta in our pantries, use whatever type (regular or whole wheat) and shape (penne, macaroni, spaghetti, etc.). In the photos I used my kid's Travel Shaped pastas (as in pasta shaped like planes, cars, boats....you get the idea). Canned Cannellini beans or some type of white beans will work great in this recipe. Plus you'll need either your food processor or I use my single-serve smoothie maker...and just clean out well before making your fruit smoothie. :)
1 can (15oz) Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4oz creamy goat cheese or cream cheese or sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
8 oz. desired pasta
About 1 cup (more or less) of available vegetables, i.e. tomatoes, spinach, peas, broccoli, etc. (if using frozen, heat up before adding to pasta)
Combine the beans, goat cheese/cream cheese/sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese (if including) in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Cook your pasta until al dente. Drain the water from the pot and toss the sauce with the pasta. Add in extra vegetables if desired.
Serve hot or cold the following day. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
I sit in my sofa chair all day watching Jersey Shore - No Judging!
I nurse my three week old son as I sit, or just hold him in my arms as he falls asleep between feedings. I feel his little head sweating in the nook of my arm, and I move him from one arm to the other with the smoothest of movements that it would make James Bond jealous of how sly I was. I wipe down the sweat on my arm his little head left on me.
My husband walks through the door; I'm relieved to see him. He walks toward me to kiss my head and I lean away.
I'm not angry with him, quite the opposite. I'm excited for him to take the baby so I can finally make a sandwich and go pee.
As he takes the baby from my arms, he tries to kiss me again. I turn my head and start walking down the hallway.
What the hell is wrong with me?! I love him, I know I love him...well, at least I think I do. I'm so tired and I don't know if I feel anything else. He says nothing, he doesn't try again. We go about our day.
space and to be left alone; the thought of family and friends hugging me made my stomach queasy.
Eventually I was better. It took some time. I even went to my husband for a hug, and a smooch.
But it's okay to be touched out. As new moms, we experience a whole new set of feelings and if touch is one that is too much, it's okay to take a break. Maybe be better than me and just tell your partner "I'm touched out, but I love you." It will help name the emotion/action, and help your partner through the transition as well.
A elderly woman is diagnosed with a late stage cancer. Once home she contacts her pastor to prepare for the funeral and how she wants it to go to properly celebrate her life. Her pastor thought she should take some time, but the woman wanted to make sure he used the right hymns, the right scripture, and said the right words. So the pastor came to her home and they went over everything for her funeral. And then she proclaimed "At the end, I want you to take the Bible and place it opened on my casket and place a fork on it." "A fork?" the past asked. "Yes. At the end of all our dinners, what is the one thing every one tells you? 'Keep your fork as the best is yet to come...dessert!' So by placing a fork on top of my casket we will reminding all that THE BEST IS YET TO COME."
This was the story that was shared at church this past Sunday as our pastor then mentioned the concept of living in the Now and for the Not Yet. As he went on about it in the sense of living for God, I couldn't help but think about all the mamas and couples that come to all my preparing for childbirth classes.
Those mamas and couples take the class to prepare for birth and what to expect in birth. The NOW.
What about mom's postpartum care? The NOT YET.
Granted, I do cover some postpartum recovery and touch a bit about what will be going on with baby in the hour or two after birth. For more information about newborn care, I refer to the Breastfeeding/Newborn Care Combo class my workplace offers.
But how many mamas and couples just prepare for the birth and forget that there is a baby at the end to take care of; and they especially forget about the new mother that just went through a huge life event that needs to recover, physically and mentally as well as somehow get rest while to care for a baby.
So how can we as mamas and support people prepare for the Now AND Not Yet?
Make lists of the following (I LOVE lists!!):
As expectant mommas, we tend to concentrate on this big event called birth. And it is big and we should prepare for it. But we should also prepare for postpartum. That lasts a WHOLE YEAR after baby's birth.
The best is yet to come in many ways....and for you it means that your baby will be in your arms soon. So do not forget to live not only for the now, but for the not yet too.
Alexia the Doula
Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator & Postpartum Doula serving Minneapolis, St Paul and the greater Twin Cities area.