Postpartum is hard enough, but parents I'm here to tell you we make it harder on ourselves by continuing to keep up with social appearances and letting visitors come and go as they please without serving us in this time of bonding and recovery. I say this with love, STOP IT! Here is how, it's called the 5/5/5 rule and it is a well kept secret but we are blowing its cover.
5 days in bed
You read those 4 words (well 3 and a number) and probably already think I'm crazy, but keep reading! Spend 5 days in your bed snuggled up and working on breast/chest feeding if that is how you have chosen to feed your babe. This time should also be spent resting/napping when baby sleeps. While one of you is obviously recovering from childbirth, the other should be taking care of you by bringing you food in bed and taking baby when you need some extra zzzz's or to take a sitz bath or enjoy a shower. You will undoubtedly have to head off to an appointment during this time, but don't take that as an opportunity to run errands. Go to the appointment, come back and rest. You may find your bleeding picks up after this little outing, take that cue from your body and enjoy a soak in the tub. *I would also like to note that avoiding stairs during this time is solid advice. You will hear midwives and some doulas break it down like this: you just birthed a baby and a placenta. Did you see how big your placenta was? That is the size of the wound on the inside of your body that needs to heal (roughly the size of a dinner plate). There is the visual to help you take your recovery a little more seriously.
5 days on the bed
Sensing a theme here? You get a little more freedom these next 5 days but you are encouraged to continue taking things easy. You can sit on the bed now *wink.* Your partner should still be bringing you your meals/snacks/drinks in bed. Baby should be close and you should continue to work on perfecting your breast/chest feeding relationship and bonding with baby. If you feel so inclined to do so, you may fold some laundry while on your bed, but only if you really want to. I encourage you to let it pile up, or enlist your partner or visitors to help with laundry. *Continue to avoid stairs.
5 days in/around the bed
Get up, hang out by the window with your growing babe Venture over to the nursery and sit in the rocking chair with baby. You could do a bit of organizing in baby's room if you feel so inclined, or. perhaps spruce up your room a bit. Don't overdo it, little tasks are still best for your final 5 day increment, and stay close to your bed.
Other tips for your 5/5/5 lying in period
Be very clear with visitors on what you expect from them: help. If they are coming to just see the baby then they can wait until you feel ready for visitors that aren't willing to do the dishes, fold some laundry, pick up groceries, bring a meal, or cook for you. If you have other children of course you can still interact with them but it will likely be spent in the 4 walls of your bedroom; however, I cherished the family time in our room it will be forever engrained in my memory as a sweet time of family bonding...mostly.
You are not to be cooking and doing any of your regular household duties during this time. Set your expectations with your partner before the baby arrives. They need to know what you will not be doing and where they need to pick up the slack. It can be beneficial to take inventory of the chores in your house and notate who does what, then decide what is most important during your lying in period and lower expectations when needed.
You need to make sure your pantry and freezer is stocked with quality snacks and meals for your postpartum healing period. You can do this by making double of your favorite dishes during the last trimester of pregnancy or requesting meals from family and friends early or after baby arrives using Meal Train.
Something else I want to touch on, it is important to know your partners personality characteristics for this time period. Bria and I have been very lucky with our partners: they are the MVPs during our births (even though we still have doulas by our sides) and are not afraid of the kitchen, scrubbing a toilet, or taking care of the other children in the postpartum period (or any time). If you know there are things they won't do or are not good at you have to have a conversation about that and call in reinforcements for those areas or prepare differently in your third trimester for that. For example, maybe you freeze lots of food because your partner could be on Worst Cooks in America or you schedule time with your mother-in-law, mom, aunt, cousin or friend (or all of the above) to hang out at your house during those first 15 days to help take care of those things. You can even hire a postpartum doula like myself or Bria to come and help out with a few little things during the day.
My final advice: take it 5 days at a time. Breaking it down into these little goals helps us reach the big one, and reaching this 15 day goal will help you heal and feel a bit more refreshed than if you were keeping up appearances and running errands. You have got this, get your postpartum squad ready.