Dear Newly Postpartum Momma,
I know you want to return to your desired level of activity. I know that you’ve felt restricted by your big belly for the past few months and now that baby is out, you are wondering when you can put back on your running shoes, go on your favorite uphill hike or spend the day running errands to cross things off your to-do list.
And I also know that your body just went through probably the biggest physical change it ever has by growing and birthing a baby. Not only did some of your physical structures get stretched and possible torn/cut/stitched but your organs are also settling back into their place and your hormones are going through a major adjustment.
You are also healing on the inside too. When your placenta detaches from the uterine wall, it leaves an open wound. The bleeding that occurs postpartum is a combination of uterine tissue lining and blood from this placenta site. The bleeding is a direct indication that you are healing from the inside and can be used as a good indicator of what your body needs.
As long as you are still bleeding, your body needs what any other body part would need when there is blood and tissue draining from it….Rest. If your bleeding starts to subside and then all of a sudden starts back up again, this means you did too much and your body is responding by bleeding more and you need to respond by slowing down.
I want to introduce the concept of an energy bank. There are things you can do to deposit into this bank postpartum and then there are things you can do to make a withdrawal. There are some given withdrawals that are going to happen no matter what such as sleep deprivation, stress about newborn issues such as breastfeeding, hormonal dips, family dynamics, older children.
The things you can do to feed this bank are rest, eat good nutrient dense food, lots of water, short walks (10-30 min depending on your bleeding status), visits with friends and family that make you feel good, watching movies at home, snuggling your baby and partner.
What I see a lot is mommas making unnecessary withdrawals from their banks in the first few months. This is done by too much exercise too soon, running around to too many commitments, traveling and pushing through fatigue to tend to the to-do list. This can make the healing phase last longer and cause a systemic crash months later because they tapped into their reserves too early causing physical, adrenal, emotional and hormonal fatigue.
When you feed your energy bank in the first few months, you will have more reserves to pull from later. You will need those reserves to cope with sleep regressions, developmental milestones, nursing strikes, returning to work, etc. Make sure you are making more deposits than withdrawals in the first few months and you will ultimately return more fully to your desired activity level.
When it comes to postpartum healing, there is no way to rush the process so lean in and give your body the refueling it deserves!