Day 1-5 postpartum: What to expect

There is so much emphasis on childbirth that it's easy to forget that what happens after the birth is just as important.
Here are some tips and things to look out for in the first 5 days.
Click here for part 2: What to expect Day 5-14

What to expect day 1-5 Postpartum:

You could feel REALLY good:

The act of having a baby releases a whole cocktail of natural hormones/endorphins that can last days after having your baby. This is wonderful since often, you have gone for several days with very little sleep. The flip side, however, is that people often do too much because they feel all loved up and have a false sense of endless energy. Pushing too much in this stage can negatively impact bonding with baby, increase bleeding and lochia discharge, as well as reduce the successful establishment of breastfeeding. So, keep feeling good...just try to do it while resting and cuddling baby.

 You could feel not so great:

I don’t mean this to scare anyone. Whether c-section or vaginal birth, you may come out the other side feeling worse for wear. You may feel sore physically, you may be mourning how the birth didn’t go as planned, you may be feeling stress over the health of your baby or struggling to breastfeed. You may even worry because you have not felt a deep connection with your baby yet. (All of this is normal and natural. Be gentle with yourself, sometimes connection takes time.)

Tips for this stage:

  • Stay in bed. And I mean stay in bed the whole time, other than getting up to pee and maybe an occasional shower, but that’s it. This is not a time to be hosting, or cleaning, or cooking. If you have other children, have them come to you in your bed. I know that not everyone can afford childcare, a cleaner or a postpartum doula. Not everyone has a partner or family member who can pick up the slack. Ack! This is where COVID has really messed things up. This is normally when friends, family (or the designated person in your bubble), should be called upon. This is not a luxury; this is necessary for your full recovery. No one would think twice about resting after heart surgery, this is no different.  
  • Eat nourishing food: The best food in the immediate postpartum is warm, easily digestible soups and stews. If you are not a vegetarian, I highly suggest slow cooker beef stews, chicken soups, yams, beets and cooked dark green vegetables. This allows for maximum nourishment with minimal effort for your digestive system. Smoothies and salads are also okay, but try to favour the warm and cooked foods in these first few days if you can.
  • Stay warm: Cold constricts. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, your body is very open and susceptible to cold in the immediate time post birth. A cold room, or a chill from being outside, and even too much cold food, can lead to retained lochia and even menstrual cramping once your period returns.  
  • A quick poo PSA:
    Your first bowel movement may be something you dread.
    Whether vaginal or c-section, the first bowel movement scares a lot of people because of the potential discomfort that could go with it. Ample water, prunes, apricots and stool softeners are your best friend at this stage.

A healthy, well supported postpartum period can be the difference between, being able to successfully breastfeed/chestfeed, going back to feeling like yourself again, getting back to your old activities and sports, and even being prepared for another pregnancy.

The first step is to be prepared and to understand that postpartum looks different for each person...and that the first month will require as much support as you can get, along with patience and kindness (from others and to yourself).

Dr. Emilie Salomons Dr. TCM, FABORM, OBAAM, Doula.

Clinic & Contact

Oak Integrative Health
#245-9600 Cameron Street
Burnaby, BC, V3J 7N3
(604) 227-9990