40 Days...Cabin Fever is Real!
Traditionally women were told to stay home for six weeks (about 40 days) after having a baby. I know. It’s absurd! Cabin fever is real, y'all! Well, back in the day, most people lived near family. Women had their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. who would practically move in and not allow the new mother to lift a finger. She couldn’t cook, clean, or even take a bath while her “womb was still open”.
As a young, new mother with my first child I thought this was ridiculous. My oldest was born a few days before Christmas and I was set on getting out of the house to experience the last of the shopping rush. At three days postpartum, I bundled myself and my newborn up and went to the mall. After all, I had a normal, natural, vaginal birth and I felt fine. Halfway through the mall, let me tell you! I thought my hips were going to separate and my uterus was just going to fall out! There was no more shopping for me. I turned that stroller around and headed for the exit.
Now, as a more mature, wiser, and experienced mother of four, I find myself talking to my clients the way my mother and grandmothers talked to me. I tell them to take time to heal. Don’t be so quick to get back to their normal routine or normal schedules. It takes approximately 40 weeks to grow a human. Give yourself at least 40 days for you to heal from birthing a human.
I know the thought of staying in and doing the minimum is either unfathomable or seems down-right impossible with our fast-paced culture. As a transient society many of us don’t live near family and simply must fend for ourselves. Taking 40 days to heal and bond with your baby is not the cultural norm as it is in many other countries. Resist the idea that it’s not about you anymore after you have a baby. Even if you feel “fine”, you still need to rest. Self-care from the start is making sure you get the proper rest and recovery time you need to avoid ongoing problems in the future.
I advise my clients to create a postpartum plan. What can you do before baby is born? Who can you count on for assistance when you get home? Try to take advantage of the initial influx of excited visitors in those first days and first week or two. Even 1-2 weeks of minimal activity will be better than immediately jumping into action as soon as you are home from the hospital.
Delegate: People want to help. Create a list of tasks that they can check off when they come to visit.
Meal Prep/Freeze Meals/Meal Train/Meal Delivery: Prep/cook meals before baby arrives and freeze for quick preparation after baby arrives. Create a meal train. Family and friends will know what your dietary needs/restrictions are and can plan accordingly. Find out what services deliver meals to your area.
Cleaning Service 2-3 Months: During pregnancy create a budget that allows for a cleaning service to come by at least once a week to lift the burden.
Postpartum Doula: Hire a postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas can come at the times you need them most. During the day they can help with infant care, feeding preferences, meal prep, or light housework. At night, they can attend to all of baby’s needs, bring them to you for feedings if you’re breastfeeding, and then settle them back down, allowing you to go back to sleep so you can get the rest you need to be prepared for the day.
If none of these options work for you, it’s ok. Just don’t sweat the small stuff. Take everything just a little at a time.
Cooking/Day-to-Day Cleaning: Don’t try to cook and clean the whole house all in one day. Cook one day. Clean 1 to 2 rooms in a day.
Laundry: Do one load of laundry per day, as needed. (Babies do create a lot of laundry.)
Floors: While sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, consider wearing a postpartum support belt or look into belly binding. It helps support your pelvic floor and aid in recovery.
Outings: If you must leave the house, wear your baby or use a stroller. Do not awkwardly lug that infant carrier around, putting strain on your pelvic floor. Do not try to do a doctor’s appointment, grocery trip, and a lunch date within the same day. Plan one outing per day until the doctor gives you the all clear.
Sometimes it’s not even about getting things done. Again, I know! Cabin fever is real. Gazing at your baby, napping, and waking up to the same walls can get a bit monotonous. If the weather allows, there’s nothing wrong with going for a short walk in the beginning to get some fresh air and vitamin D. Just don’t try to break the world’s record for speed walking while trying to snap back and lose the baby weight in the first week, ok!
Elysia Douglas is the owner of North Atlanta Concierge Doula Services, wife, and mother of 4 children. Her experiences as a mother and with helping her friends through pregnancy and birth led her to explore careers in birth work. She is passionate about instilling strength and reducing fear expectant mothers face during pregnancy and birth and possible carry into their new roles as mothers.
If you are seeking an experienced, knowledgeable, caring and compassionate doula for support during your pregnancy & birth or postpartum period, please feel free to contact Elysia at 470-384-9330 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.