rest & recovery

A New Mom & Pelvic Health Therapist Shares Her 5-5-5 Rule For Postpartum Health

It helps moms get off on the right foot when recovering from childbirth.

Originally Published: 
A mom and physical therapist's assistant shares her best advice for moms healing after childbirth.
Oriana Barger / TikTok

Every single new mom knows that those first two weeks postpartum are some of the most exhilarating and exhausting. This new little person is in your life, requiring you for their every need all the while you’re working to heal your body that has either pushed out a full-grown baby or been sliced open seven layers.

Either way, a postpartum body needs rest. One mom swears that all new moms needs to practice the 5-5-5 rule for rest and recovery: five days in bed, five days on the bed, and five days near the bed.

Oriana Barger, a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and new mom, went viral on TikTok for encouraging new moms to abide by the 5-5-5 postpartum rule.

What is the 5-5-5 rule for postpartum?

The 5-5-5 rule is a fifteen day period in a postpartum mom’s journey when she should be making rest a priority if she can. The 5-5-5 rule is a postpartum care plan that involves spending five days in bed, five days on the bed, and five days near the bed. The goal is to prioritize rest for two weeks.

Barger explains why postpartum rest is necessary. Any other human who had a major surgery would be encouraged to rest by doctors. Why are moms the exception? Actually, don’t answer that. We all know why.

Barger says, “It's incredibly important to take a break after you have your baby. Remember that the uterus really creates a lot of pressure in that abdomen, and then all of a sudden a lot of that weight is gone, a lot of that pressure is gone.”

“Not all the way, the uterus isn't fully shrunk yet, but a lot of it is gone, and your body was reliant on the pressure before that it no longer has. You have a wound the size of a dinner plate, and your uterus that is healing. Your body is healing and just like it goes through any other medical physical trauma it's going to take time to heal and it needs you to rest.”

Postpartum 5-5-5 rule explained

Barger goes into detail about what to do during those first two weeks postpartum, including how to spend each of the five days.

“So, five days in the bed where you don't do anything you just have people come help you. It's just you and the baby. Five days on the bed where you're still on the bed, but maybe you're sitting more upright doing stuff, and then five days near the bed where you're not sitting here doing a bunch of laundry and chores, you're still just hanging out in your room,” she explained.

The 5-5-5 rule is a great way to ease into the motherhood journey while making sure you’re not overdoing it and potentially hurting yourself and your body. Sure, moms are resilient, amazing, superheroesque people, but that doesn’t mean we have to kill ourselves.

How to practice the 5-5-5 rule

The OP recognizes that the 5-5-5 rule requires a lot of self-reflection and self-discipline because every thought in a new mom’s brain will go to: “I need to be doing more!”

Barger encourages new moms to go with their instincts but listen to their body.

“Will you go stir crazy? Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. Can you go on a walk? Yeah, but if you feel pelvic pressure, pelvic heaviness afterwards, then you did too much. If you had an increase of bleeding after doing a walk or doing, you know, an activity, you did too much. You gotta let your body heal,” she says.

“I know that each day feels like a week, so the idea of laying in bed for a full five days feels like a lifetime, but your body needs it, and it's going to help everything with that pelvic floor and all of your internal organs. It's going to help them a lot. And don't go running in that early postpartum period. Okay? Five days!”

After going viral, Barger received several comments from moms who scoffed at the idea of hunkering down in the bedroom for two weeks after giving birth. There was no way they could do this with older children, no village, or a husband who works full time.

One user wrote, “So, my husband is 100% supportive, but older women in my family that I’ve shared this ‘rule’ with act like it’s ridiculous and lazy.”

Another said, “My husband went back to work after a week. After our hospital stay, we had 3 days together. This isn’t always realistic for everyone ☹️”

“Well with a toddler at home and husband being the sole provide. I can’t,” another echoed.

The OP recognized that the 5-5-5 rule may not be possible for some moms.

“I recognize how much of a privilege it is to have assistance so early on in the postpartum experience. If you don’t have that, then at least knowing this information may help you choose what’s most important to do in your day so you can allow for the most rest,” she wrote in the caption on her video.

She also made a follow-up video, reminding moms that she knows the 5-5-5 rule requires moms who have just given birth to have help in their home whether that be a partner, a grandparent, or a doula. At the end of the day, she just wants to remind moms to prioritize rest.

“The goal of bringing this rule up is to let it be a reminder that you need to rest as much as possible during the first few weeks.- You will still be doing things like getting out of bed and moving around the house a little bit, so blood clotting doesn’t necessarily need to be a concern. If you are still concerned about it, there are things that you can do to try and avoid blood clotting while still resting in bed,” she wrote in the caption.

“If you don’t have the support that you need during this time, then I’m really sorry. I just want to validate how intense that must feel. If your body doesn’t heal in the way you would like it to, know that we are here as pelvic health therapists ready to guide you. Do what you can to survive now, and we’ll see you on the other side.”

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