Your body has just been through one of the hardest (the hardest?) things it has ever done. You may have been in a very long labor; you may be recovering from surgery. Your body needs rest and sleep right now. Give in to it. Put someone else in charge of the baby (a partner, your mom, the nursery) and let your body fall into a deep sleep. When you wake up from it, if your physical state allows you to, waddle to a warm shower and put on those really comfortable pajamas you packed. Then get back into your bed. Stay put and rest. That is all I ask of you, and that had better be all that anybody else is asking of you.
Here are a few other tips for taking care of yourself in these two to four days of hospital recovery:
GET AHEAD OF PAIN
“Take pain relief if you need it,” says Lauren Abrams, CNM, director of midwifery at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, and take it as directed. Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable. It’s harder to manage pain once it gets a foothold. Keeping it at bay will help you feel more comfortable.
HAVE PEACEFUL TIME
“After I had my first son, lots of people came to visit me. They were so happy, and I felt so miserable,” says Abrams. “I hadn’t slept in two days, and people were showing up expecting me to have regular conversations with them. Think of the first twenty-four hours as sacred time for you, your partner, and your baby. Either limit visitors or don’t let everyone know right away that the baby has been born,” recommends Abrams.
MOVE AROUND WHEN YOU CAN
As soon as you have taken a good long rest and as soon as your recovery and provider allow, try small walks around the recovery ward. “Get out of bed early and move around,” says Abrams.
ASK FOR FEEDING SUPPORT
If you are planning to breastfeed, ask that the lactation consultant on call pay you a visit as soon as possible, and attend any classes offered. If the hospital consultant is not available, you can also call someone in (see here for advice on finding a good lactation consultant). If you are formula-feeding, ask the nurses to help you and your partner get those first bottles going.
Been There, Done That: Moms Share Stories and Advice About Those First Few Days in the Hospital
After my first, I didn’t want my baby to leave my side. That resulted in no rest and complete anxiety, especially since I had to have a Cesarean, which limits movement after surgery. After I had my second child, I let the nurses take him to the nursery for me to get rest, eat, and shower!
—TIFFANY, HOUSTON, TEXAS
Limit people visiting to either all at once (so it gets done and you can rest) or have just family. Use the staff. Ask tons of questions. If they have a lactation consultant in house, use them!
—AMY, HOUSTON, TEXAS
I learned that you can put a note on your door that says, “Sleeping, please come back at 5:00 P.M.” (Or you can ask your nurse to do it.) Key.
—MOM TO TWO IN PORTLAND, OREGON
Our family and friends were so excited to meet the baby, and we were happy to share that time with them, but it felt like a revolving door, and I wish we had been more intentional about carving out time for just the three of us.
—AMBER, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
Having visitors is such a subjective decision that every woman needs to be up front with what they want to happen, regardless of what their family and friends want tohappen. Maybe they just want their spouse to be there for the hospital stay, or maybe they want the entire neighborhood. We all need to decide for ourselves.
—CARRIE, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA