Recovering After Having a Baby

post natal 2 no textI had my third baby, Greta, 3 months ago and took a very different approach to postpartum recovery than with my previous 2 babies.

Partly this was inspired by my friend  Steph Douglas who wrote about it brilliantly here. But also from the mistakes I made the first and second time.


  • With Bertie, our first, we had the whole world round within hours of his birth.

  • And that steady flow of visitors continued for weeks. Which came from a really good place. We wanted to show our new human off and people were keen to see him.

  • But in retrospect it was a huge error.

  • I remember trying to get myself ‘in the zone’ to attempt to pass that first postpartum poo. All the while knowing my extended family were busy eating biscuits next door. Too. Much.Pressure (and I’m not just talking about my perineum).

  • Similarly, trying to master the art of breastfeeding in the company of your brothers isn’t a recipe for success. We are close, doesn’t mean they enjoy seeing my areola poking about.

  • Or mistakenly inviting friends round for curry then feeling the dread/ exhaustion kick in around 10pm. There I was politely nibbling a naan when I should have been trying to catch some shut-eye. (Since having kids that friend and I have laughed about quite what a bad idea that was).

  • Jokes aside I am forever confronted with flashbacks from that time.

  • I remember getting to the end of day three and feeling as if I had hardly seen my baby. Far from ideal when I was already struggling to bond.

  • I remember trying to process the horror of my traumatic birth whilst putting on a brave face.

  • I remember trying to sit on the sofa whilst in agony from an epistomy.

  • I remember wanting to cry ‘just because’, but having to hold it in.

  • I remember slipping into Post Natal Depression.post natal 4

  • Second time aorund I was determined to do things better. I spent most of my pregnancy preparing to make my birth as good as it could be.

  • It paid off. I had a wonderful birth at home with Woody. Read about it here.

  • BUT I was so overjoyed to have avoided the violation and trauma of the first birth that I went bonkers.

  • Oxcitocin is a powerful thing.

  • Day 2 we went for a pub lunch. Yup. The day after pushing a human out of my Fanny I went out, sat on a hard wooden seat and acted like it was no big deal.

  • Day 9 we went to soft play (Gambado Beckenham for anyone local) telling myself ‘I had 2 kids now this is the sort of thing you had to do’.

  • Wrong.

  • With both babies I burned out at 4 months.

  • I think adrenalin had got me through until then.

  • It’s also the point when the novelty wears off. Less cooing over a new baby and sympathatic ears about how you are coping.

  • And your hair falls out. FFS.

  • ANYWAY third time I was determined to give myself the time and care I’d missed out on before.

  • Here’s how.

  • I planned a lot.

  • Taking the advice of Clemmie ( aka @mother_of_daughters) and Steph, I commited one week in bed, one week on the sofa.

  • That’s right, I didn’t leave the house from the morning I went into labour until 14 days later.

  • Don’t get me wrong this does NOT come easily to me.

  • I struggle to do ‘nothing’. I like getting things done. I like feeling like I’ve achieved something with my day.

  • But not this time. For 2 weeks I was determined to ‘actively do nothing’.

  • I’d even briefed Ben: “when I start saying that I could ‘probably manage a little walk to the park’ DON’T LET ME”.

  • And he didn’t.

  • And it was wonderful.

  • I stayed in my PJs for 14 glorious days  (not the same pair that’d be gross).

  • Close family popped in, but I didn’t do the quick tidy up before their arrival, or try and make myslef look less of a wreck.

  • And it worked. I found that if you are in bed, people are a) more inclined to remember that you have just given birth. B) not ask you for a cup of tea!!post natal 3

  • I let my body recover. Even if you have had a good labour, it’s still a HUGE deal. Not to mention pregnancy before that. Let it recuperate.

  • Interestingly my bleeding stopped quickly too. Which I think must be related.

  • I did those first few poos in peace (after sending Ben for emergency luctolose and anasul).

  • Rather than wanting to punch anyone who told me to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, I FINALLY understood that that was possible. 

  • If I felt tired I slept.

  • I didn’t get the fear of the night feeds because I didn’t have any plans the next day.

  • I didn’t have to worry about clothes that would fit on my postpartum body. Maternity PJs never let you down!

  • I didn’t have to think whether the bathroom bin had to be changed or whether there was milk for people’s tea.

  • I didn’t have to think at all. I just had to be. So liberating.

  • And such a rare gift. When else in your life can you justify being so focused on yourself?!

  • Pretty soon I took things to the next level. I started making ours (mine and Greta’s) space as zen as possible – low lighting, nice candals burning, classical music playing. It was part nest/part spa and we loved it.

  • It genuinely felt like a holiday, but with all the comforts of your own home.

  • There were benefits too. Greta and I really bonded because she ‘had my everything’. I loved being able to give her that time, especially as a 3rd child who is destined for a life being dragged on school runs, kids parties etc,

  • It was great for my older boys too, it meant they could adjust to change of having a new sibling without input or well meaning, but often pressured questions from others. “How do you like your new sister?” Seems innocent enough but actually its a huge thing for any small person to take onboard, especially when the inanimate being in question is hogging your Mummy.

  • I hope it was positive for Ben aswell. I’ve never asked him, but it seemed as though he really relished the role of being able to protect his two girls and keep us in our little oxytocin bubble.

  • Again allowing someone else to help me doesn’t come easy. Too determined to play the ‘strong, independent, woman’ card. But it felt lovely to give myself over to be taken care of. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable does not make you weak.

  • It also reduced the resentment I had previously: the sort that bubbles up, mixes with the hormones and eventually blurts out ‘I JUST HAD A BABY AND YOU DIDN’T UNPACK THE DISHWASHER’ ‘I AM BLEEDING, HAVE PILES AND SORE NIPS AND YOU ARE COMPLAINING THAT YOU ARE TIRED!!!’. We avoided that, becuase I felt like I was getting the respect and kindness that I deserved (at last!!).

  • The best bit of all is that I soaked up every inch of my gorgeous new baby. I lost myself in the smell of her head and the tininess of her nails and the miracle that had just occurred. I fell head over heels for her.

  • You never ever get that time back and frankly there is nothing more valuable than loving your family and being kind to yourself.

  • Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t make having a newborn a walk in the park, but 12 weeks in I can say hand on heart that those 2 weeks of rest or ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ as Steph calls it, were one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For me. For my baby. For my mental health and in turn for our family as a whole.

  • So if you are having a baby or know someone who is please tell them they have permission to do the same. They’ll be beyond graeful that you did.

  • POST NATAL REST 2

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3 thoughts on “Recovering After Having a Baby

  1. Donna MT Blakeway May 15, 2018 — 4:41 pm

    Can I just agree to everything that you are saying Mums who have had a baby needs 14 days to adjust & bond with their baby
    When I had my children we had to stay in Hospital for 10 to 14 days to recoup & get our strength back & bond with our new baby,
    Later I worked in my local Maternity Unit for 12 years & found that Mums just wanted to get to their outside life as quickly as possible that a lot of pressure was put on to the Units to “Fast Track them to return home even with their first baby,
    It became a convare belt to Delivering babies & the after care put pressure on the Community Nurses whom never had enough time time to explain how to Care for not only the new Infant But also for the Mums,

    Because of the Fast Tracking Deliveries Specialized Materity Units are Shutting down
    A huge shame
    The changes always come about by Pressure
    I’m very glad I had my rest in The Maternity Unit, meals cooked help with feeding clean afternoon naps with music & the curtains closed limited visiting Husband children only
    It was Bliss

    Like

  2. We learn with every child. Great post – enjoyed reading it so much! 😊🙏🏽

    Like

  3. Great blog.Thanks for sharing this.It’s really important to know every mom.I know little about this but after reading your blog, I have learned a lot about it. Thanks again for this.

    Like

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