Some women (myself included) think that postpartum recovery is more difficult than the actual labour. Spending several weeks healing your body on your own while also adjusting to life with a new bub is tough, both physically and mentally. But don’t worry – it’s a short phase that will pass by before you know it, and here are some tips to help it go as smoothly as possible.
STOCK UP ON HOSPITAL RECOVERY ITEMS
When I came home from the hospital with my first bub I was SO glad to have the recovery items the hospital gave me. But I ran out of some of them and getting to the store was difficult during that time. When I had my second child, I made sure to ask the nurse if I could have extras before I was discharged and she was happy to load me up. You can get a lot of the items from your local supermarket, so if you can stock up ahead of time that will be helpful, too.
EMBRACE SURVIVAL MODE
Don’t expect to resume your usual routine for a while. Focus on the basics of survival; eating enough, sleeping enough, keeping yourself clean, and nourishing your mind in whatever ways suit you – reading, writing, working on a puzzle, phone calls with loved ones, etc. I have a hard time sitting still and feel unproductive when I’m forced to take it easy, so mental stimulation was really important for me during recovery.
ASK FOR HELP
I’m not sure why it’s still so hard to ask for help when it’s no secret to anyone that postpartum recovery can be so difficult and draining, but I still struggled. I soon found out that this was one of my weaknesses, not a sign of strength because it caused a lot more suffering. Once I finally accepted someone’s offer to vacuum my stairs I was so grateful. I didn’t realise how dirty they’d gotten and it was such a small task for that person, who was very happy to help. I learned my lesson; use your support system. It exists for a reason, and everyone is better off when we’re helping each other.
BE MINDFUL ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA EXPOSURE
We all know that social media can be a trigger for comparison and insecurity, so be especially mindful about your social media use during this vulnerable time of your life. Don’t be pressured into keeping up with anyone, and if scrolling through Instagram is making you feel inadequate while you’re simply trying to heal your body and adjust to having a new little one, consider deactivating it for a while. Your mental health will thank you.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
Sometimes we need to reverse the golden rule: treat yourself the way you would treat others. Would you place the same expectations on a friend going through postpartum recovery? Would you guilt her for not bouncing quickly back to fitness, work, housework, social life, etc.?
Give yourself grace. Pat yourself on the back as you would a friend – you just accomplished something amazing, and your body needs time to heal. Let it. Be proud of yourself for getting out of bed in the morning after a sleepless night with your bub, for brushing your teeth, for the realisation of your adaptation to change and adopting a new normal. Love yourself and your new little one.
What advice would you give a new mum in postpartum recovery?