In preparing for my post-partum recovery with this pregnancy, I'm doing something I didn't do the first time--I'm preparing for it. Or at least I'm trying to prepare. I'm not making any assumptions. I want to be ready for anything. And at this point, I need to be ready for anything because there is still so much I don't know.
We had a follow-up ultrasound at 28 weeks (I'm 34.5 weeks now) and my placenta was still partially covering my cervix. We have another ultrasound scheduled for 36 weeks to check it's position again. I'm feeling better than I was a month ago and I haven't had any negative symptoms (such as bleeding) so I'm convinced the placenta is moving. My point in mentioning all that (aside from reminding you all to think happy thoughts for my placenta--thanks in advance!) is to point out that I don't know where I'll be giving birth yet. It all depends on whether my placenta is clear of my cervix when the time comes. Baby E is healthy, strong, and growing just like she should be.
That tangent aside, regardless of whether we end up with our ideal home birth, a vaginal delivery in the hospital, or a scheduled cesarean, I'm going to take time to recover. I'm going to be in my own home and I'm going to savor the time to bond with my baby and my family. It's going to take us a while to figure out what life is like as a family of four (five, counting our dog). I'm going to do everything I can to put aside unrealistic expectations* of myself post-partum.
What am I doing to prepare?
I'm taking care of myself now. I'm (trying) to rest when I need it. I'm doing pre-natal yoga (Justine recommended Jennifer Wolfe's Prenantal Vinyasa Yoga DVD and I love it). And I've started wrapping my belly when I need a little extra support. (Note to self: drink more water).
I'm reading. I was so focused on reading about pregnancy and birth during my first pregnancy, I failed to realize there are entire books written about post-partum recovery. Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness, by Aviva Jill Romm is excellent. She frequently references another book I'm reading called, Mothering the New Mother: Women's Feelings & Needs After Childbirth: A Support and Resource Guide, by Sally Placksin. If you're pregnant, know anyone close to you who is pregnant, or plan to be pregnant in the future, you should read them both.
I'm listening. I'm talking to my friends about their post-partum experiences. I'm starting to understand that, like birth, no two women experience the same post-partum experience. Regardless of whether a birth was unmedicated or medicated, vaginal or cesarean, some women appear to heal easily and some women have a more difficult time. It all depends. Regardless, every woman deserves to rest and be pampered after giving birth. Even if a woman feels fantastic after giving birth, her body still needs time to recover and adjust to no longer being pregnant.
At times I find myself thinking, why do I deserve to be so pampered? I feel like I'm being selfish. I know other women who haven't had the luxury. I hate that I still think of resting after growing a child for nine months and then giving birth a luxury--even when your entire focus is caring for a newborn and helping your older child integrate the experience you're doing plenty of work. Even when you get to rest post-partum it's not all sitting around getting manicures and eating bon-bons.
I can hear the voices in my head saying, "I had to be up to take care of my other children and fix dinner and wash laundry and go to work...I didn't have time to lay around in bed. I didn't have a choice." That stinks. I'm sorry. It's not okay. Our society has become so individualistic that we believe everyone has to do everything all on their own, that asking for help makes you weak or lazy. If my generation of women doesn't ask for what we need because previous generations or other women we know didn't have the support they needed, when does it stop? When do we realize that we have to take care of each other? It takes a village, right?
The cycle has to be broken. All the women I know who had to return to work immediately post-partum deserved to rest just as much as I do. From reading and listening to other women's stories I've learned that in many cultures it's not considered a luxury. It's a right. It's taken for granted that after you give birth you will be taken care of so you can focus completely on the new baby and your family. That's how it should be.
So, what is my post-partum resting period going to look like? What am I doing to prepare to take time off from cooking and cleaning? What am I planning to do to promote my post-partum healing?
That's all going to have to be in part 3. This post is already getting long and I'm trying to be good about taking care of myself now...and now I need to sleep!
*You know those expectations I'm talking about...the societal expectations that mothers are superhuman. Those ones that tell us we can have a baby and be entertaining again by the weekend, lose the baby weight and be fitter than ever in another week, and always be showered with freshly styled hair and make-up. Those ones that tell us we should never let on that we're tired or sore or overwhelmed or anxious. The ones that tell us we shouldn't ever expect (or ask for) a break.
This post is part of the Tuesday Baby Link Up.