Sunday, January 22, 2017

Postpartum Support

"I would love to rest after I have my baby, but I don't have any family around, so I have to jump right back into my daily activities."

"I know other moms need rest after having a baby, but I really need activity to feel good. I start exercising a couple weeks after my baby was born. I did fine with it." 

"I didn't make enough milk for my baby. I had to supplement when she/he was 2 weeks old."

We may have all heard these statements at one time or another. Maybe we said them even, ourselves. 

I know when I had my first baby, I was so pumped up to be done with being pregnant, I was on top of the world. I was sore, didn't feel amazing all the time, but I felt much better than when I was pregnant. I got up and made an apple pie a few days after giving birth. I wanted a pie, and since I felt good, I thought I would do it. 

When I finished, there was a heavy feeling in my legs and my lower abdomen. I felt like I was going to vomit. I finished the pie, and on wobbly legs made my way to bed without eating any. I was so sick feeling. 

I realized later, just because you feel great, doesn't mean you are great. Postpartum, when we take care of yourself, you will feel much better than you might otherwise.  

There are many good things in life, when we are in good or decent health. Exercise is one those things. It can improve your health many times. 
However, after a woman gives birth, no matter how fit she was before she gave birth, is not one of those times. 

Every single woman that gives birth has the same basic things that happen to her. Some women have more complications and others less complications. But we all have a uterus stretched out to about 38-42+ cm. We all have a placenta that is about the size of a small dinner plate at least attached to us. When we give birth, the uterus undergoes a dramatic seize change, the placenta is detached, which leaves a wound that has to heal. The uterus, suspended from our round ligaments, suddenly is decreased in size. Those ligaments need time to not have a heavy ball (the uterus), bouncing around on the end of them like bungie cables. 

  1. Take time to rest. Rest will help you to be able to get back to your activities in a healthy manner. If you do not rest, but expend energy into things like exercise, even basic daily activities, in those first ten days to two weeks, your body will have to draw from somewhere else. This means, generally the things that the body first believes to be expendable. Teeth, breastmilk,  and the like are not life threatening if it pulls from those. It believes you must be threatened, if you are expending that much energy after just having a baby. So, it pulls from your bones, your teeth, your milk can decrease or just not come in like it should. Remember to take the time to protect your lifelong health and rest for ten days to two weeks after birth. 
  2. Nourish your body. We can get caught in a trap of regaining our figures, right from the very get go after a birth. We are trying to replenish blood, fluids, make milk that is nourishing for our little one if we are breastfeeding, fight infection, make immunities for our new one, and give ourselves strength, just to wake up. It is a lot of work to grow a baby, both inside and out. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you have a lot of work to do to heal yourself. Give yourself good food, and enough of it. Green leafy vegetables, protein, whole grains, healthy fats and lots of fluids without caffeine and sugar are important. If you want to drop pounds, skip the sugar out of anything, but focus on good nutrition. Let your body heal from the inside out. If you are not taking the time to be nourished, you will not be able to recover. You will not be able to be the best mother to your child(ren) and take care of yourself. 
  3. Take Help. If someone offers you a meal, to do laundry, or says, "Let me know if you need anything." Please take them up on it. They may be shocked or surprised, but it will help you and you might end up with a closer friend. I know many people do not have anyone that will offer for that, which I feel is very sad, but I totally relate. I had babies without a community around that was helpful on a daily basis, and it is a lonely existence. I highly encourage you, in your pregnancy, to seek out your community beforehand so you have support after birth. If you do not have it in a community, hire some or see if there are resources you can take advantage of  that are not too extending financially. Do not take advantage of others, by expecting a maid service for nothing. But if you have no help, plan on hiring a housecleaner twice in the first two weeks. It will cost about $40-80, depending on who and how long you hire them for. I have seen housecleaners that charge $15 an hour even that do a wonderful job. But when all else fails, remember that your family will not die eating PB and J sandwiches every day, unless they are allergic. They will be filled and fine to do that for two weeks. They may complain, but it is okay to do what you can do and not do the rest. 
  4. Don't go back to normal. Normal is overrated. It is really not what you should be doing or planning on doing for at least 4-6 weeks. It is a process that you will work back up to. Give yourself time. Don't rush back to mommy and me class, going to the grocery store or if you are a church goer, back to church. Give yourself time. Check if any places in your area offer a click and pull grocery option. See if a friend can stop and pick up milk, eggs, bread, lunch meat and apples for you. It will not only protect you from the germs that are out and about, but it will tell people that you need help. You need their support and they can feel more free to offer it. 

Postpartum can be a difficult season. But with some planning and careful info on why you are taking care of yourself still, it can help you with your long term health goals. It can also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression or severe baby blues when we care for ourselves in this way.

This post, written by a talented blogger, also shares some good preparation for the postpartum period as well that you might find helpful. "Preparing for Postpartum"

I hope this gives you some hope about the postpartum season. If there was something that really helped you postpartum, would you like to share that with us? We would love to hear it! 

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