The Day After Routine
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
There’s this thing called a birth hang over. Every birth worker knows it. It’s waking up groggy and sorta feeling like you got hit by a truck, even if you’ve slept. Birth work is hard on our bodies. It’s long hours, lack of sleep, and often physical labor to support families continuously so they can have the birth they need and desire. It’s 100% worth it, but burn out from too many of these and what seems like endless fatigue, is real.
Today was one of those day-after-a-birth-days for me. Many people have been attending births way longer than me but after my own share of burn out, I’ve developed my day after routine that I want to share with you all.
First off, I allow myself to rest. It doesn’t matter how long my to do list is or what I had planned for the day. After the work of labor, adrenaline rush of birth, and mental drain of keeping everyone safe, expecting myself to do everything I had planned for the day is just not realistic. It’s not realistic for our adrenals, our hurting back, or our foggy brain. If I missed sleep, I nap. If I had appointments planned, I reschedule them. If I had personal things planned, I ask for a rain check. Friends understand! I used to push myself and continue on with my normal life but guess what: getting up at midnight and getting home at 8am after a beautiful birth is not “normal life.” It’s an incredible privilege and a miracle but continuing on with your day like nothing happened, just like “everyone else,” isn’t a long term safety plan. Our bodies were not made to do birth work at night, normal life during the day, and repeat over and over. Our bodies require rest to heal or else we will develop dis-ease.
Next, I feed myself food, like actual food. This may be obvious but I know what it’s like to not eat at births, not realize how low your blood sugar is, and just keep going until you can’t any more. This is so hard on our adrenals, thyroid, and metabolic system! We need to eat on our routine as much as possible before, during, and after births. What we do eat should be as nutrient dense as possible, not junk that is going to cause inflammation and weaken our immune system.
I know it’s hard because we are busy and tired but our bodies are weakened from births and going through the drive thru or eating a bunch of sugar just weakens our bodies more. We need to support our bodies after births so that we can keep doing this important work for a very long time.
I also find cell salts, especially Bioplasma by Hylands, to help my recover after births. It helps the body efficiently use and absorb vitamins and minerals and is fabulous for fatigue and prevention of illness. Take during births and after!
Finally, a huge part of my day after routine is writing a birth report. Labor and births are very high in emotions and often include the extremes of happiness, deep pain, joy, and defeat. Experiencing humans go through labor and birth is a lot to take in over and over. We learn things about families that no other person may ever know. We learn about their sexual abuse and trauma, their vulnerabilities and shame. To carry around these stories can become a huge weight that eventually, we must lay down. It leads many birth workers to quit or retire. Completing a birth report is like a structured journal that allows me to process the subjective and objective: my thoughts and feelings, my decisions, why I did what I did, and what I would do differently. It is self reflective. I can look at the birth from every angle, process fully, or realize I need to reach out to a midwife colleague to process further. I can then put this birth “in its box,” as past tense without any guilt or negative feelings and move forward in health in my personal life, but also continue supporting families well. For me, this is the most important part of my day after birth routine and contributes to my emotional and mental balance in this work.
My routine keeps evolving as my work life evolves so I’m sure it may look different next year and in ten years, but I can say it is something I deeply look forward to and value. My body sighs, I reflect, and I gain perspective because of my routine. Many people would call this self care but to me, it’s just the routine my human body needs to keep loving and serving others. Maybe if we had more realistic routines, we would not need the self care movement so desperately?
What does your day after birth look like? What have you found to work for you? I know this can look different based on your season of life as a single birth worker, partner, wife, or mom. What is working for you, fellow birth workers? I would love to hear all about!