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What I wish I knew before I had my first baby

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Kelly Sikkema | Unsplash

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 06/04/22

I learned the hard way that a “slow" postpartum period helps a mother to fully heal and bond with her baby.

Did you feel rushed to “get back to normal” right after giving birth? 

I did after my first baby, and that’s why I was so moved when I recently found out about a new movement that promotes a slow, restful postpartum period.

A “slow postpartum” helps mothers to fully heal and bond with their babies. It sounds counter-intuitive, but a longer recovery period actually will help you get back to “normal” more easily.

I experienced for myself how foolish it is to rush the “slow postpartum” period, and I hope sharing my experience can help you learn from my mistakes!

At 8 days postpartum with my first, I was still taking heavy painkillers and feeling pretty rundown after my emergency c-section. But I had been invited to a formal luncheon, and I felt the weighty pressure of expectation to be there. 

So I forced myself into high heels and a formal dress, packed up a mountain of baby gear, and spent several hours walking around a luxurious hotel and garden. 

It was a beautiful event. But I was a total wreck.

I was sleep-deprived and exhausted. The commotion upset my baby and made me feel frantic.

On top of all that, I struggled to breastfeed in the loud, busy, and fancy atmosphere. So I came home to find myself running a fever and very sick with early mastitis. Going to that event nearly ended my entire breastfeeding journey. (Fortunately I pulled through!) 

I wish I had known to stay in bed and rest. I wish I hadn’t rushed to get “back to normal.” I wish I had honored the postpartum period with the slow recovery I really needed.

Luckily, soon after I stumbled on an amazing article called How to postpartum like a boss, and I realized I wasn’t the only new mom to make this rookie mistake. 

So many of us feel the pressure to “bounce right back” after having babies. But there’s so much wisdom to honoring our bodies’ need for rest and replenishment during the critical postpartum period.

After that, I began sending the “How to postpartum like a boss” article to everyone I knew who was pregnant. 

And I learned my lesson. After I had my second, third, and fourth births, I stayed in bed for at least two weeks. My husband handled the other children and the housework while I did the hard but necessary work of letting myself rest. 

And you know what? I felt so much better, physically and emotionally. Taking the time to honor my body’s need for restful recovery made my postpartum journeys so much easier. 

My recoveries were especially difficult because of having c-sections, but even women who give birth naturally need time to really rest. Not only does this time make such a difference for physical recovery, but also it’s a crucial period for mother-baby bonding.

So here’s hoping that the Slow Postpartum movement really catches on. It made all the difference in my motherhood, and I hope it helps you too.

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