Labor and childbirth often leave your body exhausted and in need of rest. It is a crucial period when you go through immense bodily changes; requiring intense healing, especially if you have had an episiotomy, tears and lacerations or a C-section incision. In such cases, sore areas of the body, especially the perineal area needs immediate attention!
The uterus also bleeds for the first few weeks post birth, after the placental detachment, which removes the leftover uterine tissue, mucous and blood. This blood is called the “lochia” and the more you try to stay up and about, the more bleeding you will experience. There will be afterpains as well, when the uterus contracts to get back to its original shape and size. The pain is like menstrual cramps and gets more intense when breastfeeding.
Therefore, a 6-week postpartum period is considered as the rest and healing period along with time to bond with your baby.
Several cultures across the world, including India and China, have a period of “confinement” or “containment”, where the new mother is left to rest and feed her baby. This way, she is able to spend quality/one-on-one time with her baby! She does not need to interact with visitors who are kept away by her family. Nor does she have to do household chores, which can be exhausting. Either a household help is hired or family pitches-in to take care of the tasks around the house.
It is because various studies show that, well-rested and supported mothers in the 6-week postpartum period are less likely to suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD). In other words, it is a good way to ensure that there is physical, mental and emotional rest, for the baby and the mother!
What can you do?
Sleep when the baby sleeps
Keep the baby near you for easier feeding, especially at night
Eat healthy meals
Avoid heavy lifting
Avoid household tasks and chores, as much as possible
Rely on the support of your partner, friends & family or even hired-help for meals & chores
Hire a postpartum doula to “mother the mother”, give you guidance about how to take care of your baby and breastfeed
Exercise (with doctor’s recommendation)