The Postpartum 5-5-5 Rule

In today’s fast paced world, it can often feel like giving birth is just another task that we have to “keep up with” along with the demands of our day to day lives. So often, new parents come home with their new baby and feel as if they have to hop right back into the routine and tasks they had prior to this monumental life change. This is all too common and completely untrue, especially if you are the birthing person in your family. 

But what can be done? How can you ensure that the first few weeks you bring your precious baby home, the most important time of bonding and connection for both of you, is spent in the most nurturing, healing, and beneficial way it can be. 

One technique that new parents, particularly new birthing parents, can utilize is the postpartum 5-5-5 rule. This is a recovery philosophy that encourages rest, bonding, and really connecting with your newborn in ways that jumping back into the ebb and flow of our chaotic life doesn’t always facilitate. 

The basis of the 5-5-5 rule is that you spend 5 days in bed, 5 days on bed, and 5 days near bed, 15 designated days to do nothing but recover, heal, explore, bond, and adjust to and with this new little life. 

5 Days In Bed

For some, this sounds like a dream. For others, spending 5 days physically in bed is a literal nightmare. How on earth can anyone spend 5 days in bed?! 

The most important thing to remember when you come home from giving birth, or after your homebirth is complete, is that your body has gone through what is considered a traumatic experience – beautiful, wonderful, natural, and doable, but traumatic nonetheless. Particularly physically traumatic, with lots of things that will need some time to heal. Tearing, stretching, sore muscles, overall physical exhaustion – not to mention the hormonal changes that come immediately after giving birth. It’s a lot to adjust to, and the best way to do so is to give yourself 5 days of languishing in bed with your new baby. 

Now, being in bed for 5 days doesn’t mean you’re just being fed bonbons and watching Netflix all day (although it certainly does help the healing process, I’d imagine!) Being in bed with your baby for 5 days on end is ensuring that when your baby rests, you rest. When your baby needs to eat, you’re there and ready, which ultimately helps with milk production if you’re breast/chestfeeding. The entire idea behind 5 days in bed is to give you and your baby the ultimate bonding experience that they can get those first few days of life. 

What about visitors during this time? While visitors are certainly nice, the first 5 days you may want to keep just to you, your baby, and your partner/support person/doula. However, if you do want visitors, making sure you stay in bed and don’t feel as if you have to “host” is important in keeping with the 5-5-5 rule. Your only job during this time is to rest, heal, and bond with your baby.  

5 Days On Bed 

When you hear “on bed”, it may sound strange, but that’s exactly what it means. While the previous 5 days in bed are spent between the sheets, these 5 days are spent on top of the covers for you and baby. This doesn’t mean you’re jumping up to do the dishes and laundry as soon as you hit day 6, but you can start to get a little more mobile. Making the bed every day is a great way to start some light motion and movement while ensuring you aren’t going to tear or damage your healing body. 

You can also start to do some more activities on your bed, especially if you have older children. This is a great time to give your older children some new sibling time that is low key and easily observable. Reading to them, playing a game, watching a show or movie – all things that allow them to also explore and bond with their new sibling and get some quality time with you while you rest and heal. 

You may feel more comfortable having visitors outside of your immediate family and close friends come visit at this point, but the same rule applies – you are not “hosting” them, they are here to visit with you while you are in the “On Bed” phase. Or, you may feel comfortable still only having close family and friends visit. Or no visitors at all! This time is yours to adjust and listen to you and your baby’s needs. If your body is telling you it’s not ready for visitors yet physically or emotionally, then there is nothing wrong with that. 

5 Days Around Bed 

After you’ve spent 5 days on bed, you can now start to venture into other parts of the house for short periods of time, making sure that your bed is still easily accessible. You and baby can take a trek to the couch, or complete light housekeeping such as folding laundry while watching a show or loading the dishwasher. 

What 5 days around the bed doesn’t mean is – you guessed it! – you return to life as normal. You are only 10-15 days out from giving birth, and are still healing and adjusting. Your goal should be to keep standing to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time while listening to your body for when it needs to rest, which means back to bed! 

If you’re feeling stir crazy or like things aren’t getting done around the house, because that’s often how new birthing parents feel, invite some friends or family over to help with household tasks! They can make dinner while giving you a chance to rest, and then you can all visit while you eat. Or have them carry the laundry up from the basement so you can both fold it while you catch up. There are many ways to involve friends and family in your postpartum recovery beyond allowing them to hold the baby while you do all the things you haven’t been able to do. It truly takes a village, and as the part of that village that is actively healing, you are the one calling the shots. 

If you are worried about tasks falling behind during your recovery, or are really just unsure what you want your recovery to look like, a Postpartum Doula can help you navigate through the Golden Weeks and beyond! Postpartum Doulas will help make a recovery plan and will help support you so you don’t have to jump back in with both feet! 

If you would like to discuss what a postpartum recovery plan including the 5-5-5 rule might look like for you and your family, contact us today!