As anyone who knows me can testify, I’ve got some nutty ideas floating around this head of mine.
(My poor husband didn’t know what hit him the first time I mentioned homebirth just a few months after we got married…)
I’m mostly the opposite of impulsive — I look into things thoroughly before I decide that they’re actually a good idea. But if something intrigues me, and then I look into it and decide it’s a good idea, I’m hooked.
Which is why, when a friend (who, incidentally did have a homebirth) mentioned that her midwife had said that if you really really rest for the first two weeks postpartum (5 days in bed, 5 days on bed, 5 days around bed), your bleeding will completely stop within those first two weeks.
(You intrigued, too?)
And then I suddenly started hearing it everywhere: 5 days in bed, 5 days on bed, 5 days around bed.
It’s crazy. It’s nuts. You might feel like it’d drive you out of your mind.
But I did it (well, mostly anyway).
And you totally should do to.
When, why, how? Let’s talk about it.
Why in the world should I spend 2 weeks like an invalid?
No, you’re not an invalid after you have a baby.
Birth is a normal life cycle occurrence, and I firmly believe that, in most situations, it should not be treated like a medical affair.
That being said, though, birth is a Big Deal.
Pregnancy itself places a lot of strain on your body. There’s lots of physical changes, hormonal fluctuations, vitamins and minerals being zapped from your body for the baby (make sure you’re replacing those!), and of course, lots of beautiful emotional upheaval too.
Then birth itself — whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a c-section – comes with its own trauma to your body. A c-section is, of course, a major abdominal surgery, and ought to be respected as such. A vaginal delivery, with the necessary labor and all that it entails, is like running a super-intense marathon – sometimes without adequate preparation.
And then, regardless of all of the above, you have a placenta-sized wound in your uterus. Which is, quite literally, gushing blood. (And have you ever seen how large a placenta is? They can get pretty big!)
So no, my dear, you’re not an invalid.
But your body is most certainly recovering from a major ordeal and if you’d have a wound as large as your placenta outside of your body, you’d absolutely be spending your first two weeks postpartum in, on and around bed.
Okay, but what do I actually do (or not do)?
The basic guidelines of the Rule of 5 (as I call it) is: spend 5 days in your bed – laying down, resting, not really doing anything or going anywhere except the bathroom.
Spend 5 days on your bed – perhaps sitting up and “doing” things a bit more (whatever you have energy to do and can do sitting in bed), but still doing lots of resting and not really going anywhere except the bathroom.
Spend 5 days around your bed – nearby (say to your kids’ bedroom for their bedtime routine, or if you live in an apartment where your bedroom is nearby the dining room or kitchen, walking there for a meal), not necessarily resting or laying the whole time, but still pretty much not going anywhere or doing anything.
If you follow the Rule of 5, you’ll be avoiding any lifting (think toddler, newborn in a carseat, etc.), excessive walking (such as from a parking garage to a doctor appointment), stairs, and of course, any meal prep, housework, etc.
Keep in mind, though, that these are GUIDELINES. I definitely did not stick to these 100% (for example, I ate dinner in the dining room (no steps and pretty close to my room) with my grandparents the day of Sir S’s bris when I still should have been “on bed”), but mostly followed them during the first 2 weeks – and beyond – and saw my recovery go far far quicker than what most women experience.
P.S. Remember the baby!
An added benefit of the Rule of 5 is getting to know your baby. During those first two weeks, your baby is adjusting to the world just as much as you’re adjusting to your role as his mother.
Staying in, on and around bed will allow you to stay close by your baby and will keep him out of the naturally overstimulating parts of the house.
He’ll be able to adjust slowly to life outside of the uterus in the place that feels safest for him: with Mommy.
You’ll have ample time to get to know his cues so you can give him what he needs in the weeks and months to come.
This is all very nice, but how in the world am I supposed to do nothing for 2 weeks?
When I talk about this with my prenatal clients, I nearly always get this question.
Most of the time, when they ask this, they want to know two things:
- How are my kids/house/self functioning for 2 weeks if I’m doing nothing?
- What am I going to do to keep myself sane for two weeks?
So first things first: How are your kids, and house going to manage and how are you all going to eat if you’re doing nothing for two weeks?
Some of you may have a very easy solution: you move into your mother’s (or mother-in-law’s) house and your kids get farmed out. Presto-magic-o solution.
But for some of you, it’s not that simple. And this is where seeing the future and brainstorming comes in:
Perhaps you have some friends who can take your kids for a period of time after the baby’s born, or maybe just for post-school playdates till bedtime.
Can your husband help more? Can you hire more help? Can a neighbor’s daughter come over to help you? Do you have older kids or nieces that can help out?
Can you keep a cooler or mini fridge in your bedroom with your food for the day?
Maybe you’ll have friends sending meals over, maybe you’ll order meals in, maybe you’ll stock your freezer in advance.
Everyone’s going to have their own solution – but there’s nearly always SOME solution.
For the second question, seeing the future will once again be vital: what can you do to keep yourself busy? Shmooze with friends? Color? Read? Write? One of my clients used the time to put her family pictures in an album. All of my clients use some of the time to sleep, eat, shower or bathe and generally feel like human beings.
Oh, and if you’re wondering — no, I never did yet have a homebirth. Breech twins, C-section, VBAC and some wonky labors have made it impossible until now, but it’s definitely still on the agenda!
But homebirth or not, this period is a beautiful time — a difficult time, but beautiful nonetheless — and one I’d love to guide you through so it can be as absolutely beautiful as possible!
I work with only two clients every month, so schedule your Discovery Call today so we can talk about getting started.