I am leaving shortly for the Friends of Missouri Midwives annual retreat this weekend. I'm presenting two sessions--one on "Birthing Room Yoga" and the other on "Planning for Postpartum." I have a special interest in postpartum and encourage people to plan for a special time of "cocooning" with their newborn, rather than rushing to rejoin "normal" life. A vital part of making cocooning possible, is having a good support network. I think back to the care I received from my midwife postpartum--it really mattered to me. The time she spent gently sponge bathing off my arms and legs, cleaning the living room rug, doing laundry. The fact that she returned (20 mile drive for her) at about 12 hours postpartum, 2 days postpartum, and a few more times thereafter (plus phone calls!), to check on us and to offer her support and encouragement. This kind of care is irreplaceable and not the kind of care that you can ever expect from an OB or for an out-of-home birthing environment. Many midwives return at 1 day, 3 days, 5, days, and one week postpartum!
An element I also emphasize is the importance of making a written postpartum support plan. DONA has a great example on their website and there is a good handout about postpartum planning on this site (I especially like the final page in the document that is "A Request for Help After Baby is Born" with accompanying "tear-off" section for people to fill out and give back to with the things they are willing to do for you postpartum).
Postpartum is a time for you to reach out for support and to let others "mother" you for a change. Though of course you could do it all alone if you had to, now is not the time to be "superwoman" or to prove how competent and independent you are. You and your baby will both benefit from an extended period of rest and recuperation, nuzzled up together in your own bed, marveling at what has just happened.