As a mom of three now, I had all sorts of postpartums – there was the first one, when I was exhausted and in shock over my life changing so drastically, the second one, with a postpartum depression, and lately the third one, definitely the calmest of all. Even though my third baby had colics, and even though I already had two older kids around. And I think that it all went so much better this time around thanks to of some things I learned over time.
So If you are pregnant now and trying to imagine and plan how this new chapter in your life will pass, or if you just had a baby and feel overwhelmed, here are some things that may help to have a better postpartum time and survive these first weeks with a newborn :
- Give yourself grace. Your body just went through truly amazing transformation and it’s normal that it takes time to heal. It’s perfectly normal that it looks different now. And yes, once you give birth you still look pregnant for a while! Take these first weeks very slowly. Both with expectations of what you’ll accomplish, as physically. For some woman it may be a month and more, for some only a week or two but all woman in postpartum need time to physically heal and emotionally adjust.
- Don’t fight with your baby’s instincts. While our society may tell us to go out, put the baby in a crib in a nursery and sleep train, these first three months are actually a baby’s fourth trimester – a time when they need to be close to us, feel our presence and be cuddled, nursed and reassured as much as they want. So using a baby carrier ( even at home) , having a little bassinet next to your bed ( or even co sleeping) and not planning too much, might be actually the best things you can do for your baby and your sanity!
- Ask for help. Especially if you have older kids. Ask for help while healing and ask for help while being sleep deprived after a month or two with a newborn. It doesn’t make you less of an independent woman to ask and accept help. Remember, it takes a village to raise a kid. And every child is different, so even if you have older kids, you can still feel lost and powerless. Find a breastfeeding consultant as soon as you feel you’re struggling and don’t wait to the last minute to call your health care provider – google search might make you feel just more nervous when in doubd!
- Prioritize you and your baby, because everything else can wait. Yes, even the older kids, even the laundry, even the dishes. And there’s no harm in feeding your older kids with sandwiches and cereal for a month or two – if you’re alone and there’s nobody to help you around, it’s totally fine to lower your standards and switch to a survival mode!
- Don’t ever talk negatively to yourself. Every time you think : I got nothing done today; I look fat, my belly is to big – you depreciate yourself and the amazing and important work you did and are still doing ! Embrace your postpartum body as it is. Soft, squishy, larger than before. No, you don’t need to “get your body back” you have the same body but more amazing! A body that grew life, gave birth and is maybe even feeding a baby! If you do exercise or try to eat healthy, do it for your well being. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself now.
- Do what works best for you and your baby – even if it’s something that you never thought you would do as a mother. And by that I mean whether it’s breastfeeding on demand or bottle feeding, co sleeping and baby wearing all the time, or feeling like you need to leave the house for a just little bit and introducing the bottle and a pacifier earlier than you thought – do what you feel works for you, and don’t let other people’s expectations guide your parenting.
- Invest in pretty postpartum wardrobe. Sometimes it means that for a while you’ll be wearing a larger size then you youse to. Don’t ever wait for ” after I lose the weight” to dress pretty and appreciate your body for what it does. Go and get yourself couple of pieces that will fit you in your 4th trimester, with the squishy belly and all.
- Repeat to yourself : ” it’s just a phase, it will pass”. Every time your baby has colics, every time you’ll wake up as tired just as much as you where the night before, every time you”ll feel like crying. It will all pass. I promise. Research shows that when we look at challenges as something that will eventually pass, rather then a never ending obstacle, we gain perspective and we’re less stressed in the end!
- Find yourself a mama that has been there and that you can call anytime: when you are unsure of your choices, worried and feeling down. Someone that can listen. A real person, and not a google search bar! Sharing your thoughts with someone who has been there will make you feel less alone.
- And lastly, don’t let the mom guilt creep in: whether you’re ” not enjoying every minute of it’ as you thought you would, or you feel that actually you would have it another way. Whether you feel like you’re not doing it right, or fear you’re making a lot of mistakes. It’s normal. You’re doing your best and that’s all that matters.
And know that most women feel the same, but socially we’re expected to express only joy and gratefulness over motherhood. But while it is the most beautiful thing that can happen in life, both rewarding and fulfilling, it’s also a big source of stress and frustration. And it’s only human to feel all the mixed emotions. The love, the gratefulness, the joy. The fear, frustration, and despair. Even in the same day, even all at once.
And if you’re still pregnant and trying to prepare for the future or if it’s your first baby, just try to take one day at a time. Before you’ll know it, your newborn will turn in to a toddler, and then it’s a whole different story altogether !