How do you recover from a long birth?

This is a two part series. This week, we'll be tackling recovering from a long night as a birth doula. Last week, we tackled postpartum doula overnights and tips for recovering. 

It may be your first birth. It may be your tenth. But sooner or later, you will have that marathon birth. The thirty hour birth they tell legends about, the birth that you will be processing for weeks, the birth that balances out the shorter ones. This is the beauty and the difficulty of doula support: there are no shift changes. Your continued presence is so valuable to provide continuity to a family who is working long and hard to meet their baby through a rotating cast of care providers, nurses, position changes, comfort measures, and more. The family will be blessed to have you, and you will know you made a difference. But that doesn't make it any easier to recover, especially after the birth feelings wear off, and you're at home, tired, with a crazy messy house, maybe crazy children, and there's not enough coffee in the world!

We polled our members to ask them what their tips are for recovering from a long birth. Here are their main takeaways. Some of them may surprise you! For starters, Sarah Newton recommends staying away from caffeine!

I also try not to over do caffeine to get me through the recovery. So herbal teas and water, and if I need a short nap, I try and give in. 
Sarah Newton, birth and postpartum doula

Here are the other tips.

Give yourself time

I usually need 2 days to feel normal. A quick cat nap and then a full night of sleep is ideal for me. 
Gloria Miles, birth doula, childbirth educator
Long births take time to recover from - I expect it to take me a full week to feel totally back to normal. 
Donna Westcott, birth doula

Expect to unwind

Sometimes I can get wired and not feel sleepy, so a long hot shower (I don't like baths) and maybe a book or a cup of tea can help.
Gloria Miles, birth doula, childbirth educator

I usually take an epsom salt & lavender bath and drink hot tea and then climb into bed. Even if it is a long birth, it takes me some time to wind down because I am always still processing the sequence of events. 
Hunter Moore, birth doula

I swear by the epsom salt bath (depending on how tired you are when you get home, or how long you have been awake), but I shoot for getting that bath in sometime within twenty-four hours after the birth.
Sarah Newton, birth and postpartum doula

Put chores on the back burner

I try to make sure I don't have anything strenuous booked for the day after and give myself permission to rest no matter how many things are on the to-do list!
Hunter Moore, birth doula

Consider childcare so you can rest

If I'm out all night at a birth but I'm getting home early in the morning, like 5am or later, it's worth it to me to have childcare lined up to watch my kids (not at my house!) so I can get some good sleep in without 5 million interruptions!
Donna Westcott, birth doula

Eat protein and take care of your needs

A long birth may mean that you've neglected eating full meals and stress relief for a day or two. Here are some tips to catch up.

 I also spray myself down with magnesium spray or balm (basically most of my body) before I ever lay down. If it's possible, I try to eat something loaded with protein as well before sleeping along with water, or electrolytes. That combination of things typically means I wake up not feeling rough. I then use magnesium spray again when I wake up, and start off with tons of water, and try and stick with lots of protein for that first day after a birth. If I can do that, then my recovery time seems to be a lot less.
Sarah Newton, birth and postpartum doula

Get back on a normal sleeping schedule when you can

Go home and sleep as long as you can but once you wake up try to stay up until a fairly normal bed time (like, don't take an extra nap in the afternoon or something like that). It helps to get you back into a normal sleeping pattern.
Donna Westcott, birth doula

What are your tips for recovering from a long birth? Follow us on Facebook or leave us a comment!