Often referred to as the fourth trimester, the days and weeks following birth can be a time of transition, learning, rest, healing, and recovery.
Rest and healing are an integral part of coming full circle after delivery. However, every woman is different. There is a range of responses after having a baby. Some women feel exhausted and need to rest and recover slowly, while others may want to resume activities more quickly. There is no right or wrong, but it is most important to listen to your body and follow your doctor or midwife’s recommendations. You know what you need.
Understanding how best to care for your body to recover from delivery is just as important as taking a birthing class, creating a birth plan, and making sure you have a name for your new baby.
Less than a century ago, new moms were often put on strict bed rest for ten days following delivery. Rest is good for healing! And actual sleep is good too, so sleep when your baby sleeps! Remember to listen to your body. Bleeding is normal for up to six weeks and it can come and go but remember: if you are soaking more than one pad in an hour and/or passing clots, call your doctor or midwife right away!
Spending time with your new baby is the best way to get to know him or her and understand their needs. Getting enough rest can ensure you are going to be physically capable of fulfilling those needs. Focus on feeding your baby and yourself and sleeping as much as possible.
Accept that your life is different now and that’s okay! Acknowledge what you and your partner have “lost” – sleep and spontaneity – with acceptance, positivity, and wonder.
Be aware that your “normal” routine of daily activities is never going to be the same because you have a new person in the home and you will be creating a new normal. Keep your sense of humor as you navigate this new “normal”.
Check in with your friends and family! Fellow parents are great resources; ask them about their personal experiences with breastfeeding, emotions, and recovery. Although every birth is different, you may find some common themes and comfort among your fellow moms and dads and friends. It’s okay to accept help from others.
Help is a Phone Call Away
Remember that you have a team of health care professionals who can help you through the challenges of recovering from delivery and starting a new life with your baby: your Healthy Futures Nurse, doctor or midwife, lactation consultant, and pediatrician. Unfortunately, there are still many myths and pieces of misinformation that are shared online and among friends and family. Your health care provider can help you find accurate information that is right for you and your baby.