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Doula Cara with her hands over her heart and title Postpartum Recovery: The 5-5-5 Rule

Ep 53: Postpartum 5-5-5 Rule

postpartum Oct 13, 2022

Link to YouTube Video

Full Transcript:

[00:00:00] I'm Cara Lee. I'm a birth doula, a childbirth educator, and a mother of two. And today we're talking about postpartum planning and in particular the five days rule for postpartum. So many pregnant folks do a ton of preparation for birth, but they don't think much about postpartum. And I really, really encourage you and I encourage all the students in my Brave Journey birth preparation online program to prepare for postpartum.

I include tons of worksheets and postpartum planning conversations, checklists, and postpartum supplies, lists, and all sorts of things to try to think through postpartum. And one rule to think about when you're planning your postpartum time is the 5 -5-5 rule.


The 5 -5-5 rule is five days in bed, five days around the bed, and five days in [00:01:00] your home. This is a postpartum recovery plan, so that's about 15 days, two weeks that you're not leaving your home, and you're focused on recovering and healing.

I've also heard people say one week, one week, one week. I've heard six days. Six days, Six days. you know? The details are somewhat flexible, but it's really wise to think about the amount of time that you're going to be spending to healthily recover physically from your birth and pregnancy as well. And you're establishing breast and body feeding.

So by spending the time in your home near your infant and hopefully snuggling your infant as much as possible, you are establishing breastfeeding. So we also talk about this at length in the Brave Journey Birth Preparation Online Program. But one of the best things you can do to establish your breast and body feeding relationship with your infant is to spend the first three weeks nursing and removing all the milk from your body as often as possible. So those first three weeks, you're establishing the Max Milk supply you're [00:02:00] gonna have for the rest of your pregnancy. We talked about this a ton and the Brave Journey online course, but also I did a YouTube video on this in the past. It's called Establishing Breastfeeding. You can look. I also have a. Uh, breastfeeding playlist.

But when you're establishing your milk supply, you need to be removing milk as often as possible, which means keeping your infant with you and just feeding as often as possible. So, if you're spending five days in bed, five days in your bedroom, and five days in your home, you're often focused on your infant rather than focused on a whole bunch of other things.

And this is good. This means that you are going to be establishing your milk supply that will serve you for the rest of your nursing relationship with this infant. If you have future infants, subsequent pregnancies, you'll have another opportunity to build a, a bigger max milk supply. But for this pregnancy, these first three weeks, this is when you need to be removing milk as often as possible.

So if you are in the bed and around the bed, you're also resting because physically you're recovering. Not only you're recovering from birth and pregnancy, but you had a placenta approximately the size of a dinner plate, but it's usually like [00:03:00] this big, and it was attached to your uterus with a gazillion blood vessels.

When your placenta was birthed, when you delivered your placenta, those blood vessels were open and then they, the uterus clamped down and helped them clot and helped the bleeding stop. And all of those blood vessels are healing. It's normal. It's healthy. It's meant to happen this way, but the best thing you can do for this process, this wound that you cannot see and nobody else can see, is to rest.

So that's why those first five days laying down. Additionally, if you had any perineal damage, whether you had a tear or just stretching and, and the normal, very resilient fluctuations of your vva, then laying down and just resting will also increase your body's ability to heal that very, very quickly.

Again, it's a resilient part of your body. It will heal, but the more you rest, the better it will be and the better your long term healing will go. So if you spend those first five days resting in bed, and then the next five days resting in your bedroom and the, and the next five days [00:04:00] in your home, but not running, going, not going in, and for walks, not going shopping.

And this, this is where we're gonna talk about guests. If you are staying in bed in these first few days, when guests come to visit you, you can have them drag a chair into your bedroom while you stay in your pajamas in your bed and greet them from your bedroom.

And this is sending the message that you are not hosting them, they are visiting you. They can bring you a glass of water, they can run to your kitchen and get you a glass of water or a drink, they can get themselves a drink. You are not hosting and so staying in your bed, in your bedroom really sends that message.

In a couple months when they come over again and visit you, you can go and host them and get out of platter of treats or whatever hosting looks like in your culture and in your your friend groups, and you can get them a drink and you can be the host.

But when you have just had a baby, you are not hosting, they are visiting you in your bedroom and they maybe we'll clean up the dishes they find in the sink. Maybe they'll ask if they can run the vacuum. Maybe they'll take out the trash for you. These are the things that you need for a visitor. And if [00:05:00] you can't imagine the person who wants to come visit you doing those things for you, then they can wait a couple weeks to come visit you.

That's my next point. If you can't imagine them coming to your home, when you're resting in your bed, If you can't envision them coming into your room like that, they can wait a couple weeks.

I always suggest that people buy cute lounge clothes for postpartum. It makes you feel a little fancier. Like they're still lounge wear, but it can be that treat.

You know, the baby gets a gazillion onesies and they're barely in their onesies at all, cuz they really should be just in their diaper and skin to skin with a blanket over the both of you. But maybe instead of all those onesies, you can ask somebody to get you a really cute new robe. Or lounge outfit. I had my spouse get me a new robe for our second baby.

So my postpartum experiences with my first baby, I heard all these tips and I live away. I lived away from family. At the time I lived in California, my family was in Arizona.

Now I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, near my family. And I had a bunch of really good friends, but nobody'd had kids before and I had never had anybody serve me like that in my home. And so I said, I don't need this kind of postpartum support. My spouse and I, Justin [00:06:00] and I, we can just do this on our own, and I suffered for it.

I also did not stay in my bed or my bedroom. I was going on walks and it was a way that I was trying to cope. I was trying to feel normal and nobody was saying, Cara go to bed. and they should have, because I really suffered and it took me forever to heal.

With my second baby. My healing was so much better.

And you wanna know why? It's because I laid in my bed for two weeks, pretty much. I, I stayed home for two weeks and I was in my bed for most of that time, partly cuz I had a three year old. And we needed to be able to send the message to her that she could come visit mommy in bed and the new baby, and she could come snuggle with me, but then when she got bored, she would run off and play.

And so it was easier for me to be in my bed. But that made a huge difference.

With our first baby. Spouse couldn't take much time off work. He was a graduate student. He was running experiments in his lab and he needed to get back to them. With our second baby, we made sure that whatever was going on with his lab, he could take a couple weeks to be home, to serve me, to serve our three year old, and to also facilitate.

Our guests who came to visit us during that time came into my bedroom. I had never [00:07:00] had guests in my bedroom like that. I, but we pulled a chair in. I sat there holding my baby in my nice lounge clothes that I treated myself to and they came and visited me and the visits were short. Cuz people don't usually hang out in other people's bedrooms when you're grownups, it's not like a sleepover when you're a kid or something or you know, when you have other kinds of sleepovers. But in this instance it was beautiful. It was people who could come over. They would, I, I birthed my second baby during Christmas time and we, I love Christmas. I definitely celebrate Christmas, I'm a big fan.

So a friend brought over a ton of Christmas cookies and distributed them to myself and my three year old and my husband.

My healing experience was so much better and I actually had a, in some ways a more challenging birth experience with my second, and my healing was better. And I really think it's because I took that time to stay in my bed and stay in my bedroom and rest.

And anybody who came to my home, I was not hosting. The only time I left my home was for the pediatrician appointment and lactation consultant appointment.

So that's my next point. Sometimes you have to leave your home because [00:08:00] its best practice to take your infant in for a pediatrician appointment about one week old.

And it's also sometimes necessary to seek lactation support outside of your home.

Now, if you can afford it, I , I cannot recommend an IB CLC coming into your home high enough. Super worth it if you can afford it.

I never could. So I needed to go to lactation support groups and lactation appointments. I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding. I knew it for my second. I didn't know it for my first, that that's how it would be.

so I did go to those appointments, but I planned to do the bare minimum. I simply, my spouse took care of all the preparations. I got up, got dressed, he carried the infant out. We walked to the car, I walked into the appointment, and then I walked in and I went right back to bed. I'm not kidding. So sometimes you do have to go to these kinds of appointments during these first couple weeks, but make it as minimal as possible.

Another example is I attended a birth and the baby immediately had to be transferred to, unexpectedly to a children's hospital NICU unit. There was a really high risk problem that hadn't [00:09:00] been known about before the birth, so I helped transport the birthing person to the nicu. And pushed her around postpartum.

This was, I was performing this work as a postpartum doula, which I don't normally do, but this was also a friend, but as a postpartum doula, I was pushing her around the children's hospital in a wheelchair because yes, she needed to be with her infant, wanted to be with her infant, and she was still healing.

So rather than having her walk all over the place, and it took a lot of effort. Everyone was kind of expecting her to walk around. But no, I put her in a wheelchair and pushed her around.

These are examples where I understand that not every life is going it's going to work to spend five days in bed, five days around your bed, and five days in your home postpartum.

But just do the best you can. Have compassion for yourself, have compassion for your spouse, have compassion for your older children with each baby there's a massive transition and transformation that have. And having that rest and that time and just asking for as much help as you can and reaching out to your community as [00:10:00] much as you can, and sometimes building community for this purpose in a way that you maybe have never had community support before.

It's worth it. It's absolutely worth it, and it will positively impact your postpartum experience and it will start your parenting journey with this newest baby or with your first baby on a completely different note than if you don't take the time to rest.

Thank you for listening. Please like and subscribe to my channel, and I post a new video every Thursday.

See you next week.



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