Postpartum recovery is not linear. As much as we want it to be, it doesn’t always work that way!
As I live through my second postpartum recovery, I’m finding myself comparing the experience to my first.
What’s different, what’s the same?
How has my level of support from family/friends/community differed?
How do I feel day to day?
How are my expectations different?
What’s my motivation/ability/mindset around life, work, and all the things?
I shared some thoughts on this over on Instagram last month and I had far more responses than anticipated.
Safe to say that my words rang true for many parents out there, so I want to share it here.
Postpartum Recovery is NOT Linear
You know that saying “two steps forward, one step back”? That is postpartum recovery. It’s not linear.
After the first few weeks, you might feel like you should be back to your old self—and maybe you feel that way some days—but it’s ok to not feel that way all the time.
Even after the 4th trimester (first 3 months post birth), your body is still recovering. Yeah, most of the major physical healing has taken place, but hormones are still in flux, your adrenals and thyroid are working hard, your pelvic floor is still recovering… If you’re breastfeeding, your body is still partitioning energy and micronutrients into breast milk. You get the idea.
It’s also around the close of the 4th trimester (or somewhere in the 3-5 month range) when baby becomes much more alert, active, clingy, unsettled at night… perhaps they have started teething or want to practice new skills?
Right when you feel like you should really “have your sh*t together by now,” you’re actually in the stage where I most often see mom’s health take a nose dive.
Sleep deprivation has reached critical mass, or so it feels. This is also when community/family support has usually dried up (RIP meal trains and/or freezer meals).
THIS is the time to let go of societal expectations about what you “should” be doing, how your body “should” look, how you “should” parent or not, how your baby “should” do xyz (psst – burn all the baby books, IMO!).
This is the time to take a deep breath.
Acknowledge all that you are doing.
Acknowledge how far you’ve come.
Acknowledge the huge journey your body and family has taken in the last year.
Acknowledge that no one *really* has it all together.
Embrace the “full catastrophe,” as mindfulness pioneer, Jon Kabat-Zinn might say. And just take it hour by hour, day by day.
No, my friends. Postpartum recovery is not linear. And that’s OK.
Who’s with me?
If you need me, I’ll be in bed by 8.
Until next week,
PS – If this post rings true for you, please share in the comments how you feel postpartum recovery is different than you anticipated.
Also, if you can think of any mom friends that might benefit from this message, share this post on social media or via email. You never know how helpful a simple reframe is when you’re “in the thick of it.”
PPS – Some people assumed when reading my original post that my postpartum recovery is not going well this round. That’s actually not the case AT ALL.
My postpartum recovery after this second pregnancy has been more supported (i.e. I asked for more help), better nourished (thanks to all the postpartum recovery meal prep and a meal train; see this post for real food postpartum recovery meals and 50+ recipes), and my body feels STRONG thanks to all that I’ve implemented both during and after pregnancy for a solid recovery.
If you want that basics on postpartum recovery and navigating the 4th trimester with more ease, see Ch 12 of Real Food for Pregnancy.
If you want a super in-depth look at this topic, see my professional continuing education webinar on Postpartum Recovery and Nutrient Repletion that I teach through the Women’s Health Nutrition Academy.