You just had a baby. Your hormones, emotions, and thoughts are all over the place. You bring home your sweet little bundle of joy and are a bit overwhelmed. Postpartum is different for every mom, but one thing that all moms have in common after birthing a baby is that their lives as they know it have changed forever.
My first baby is now three and a half months old and I’ve learned so much in this short period of time. I’m responsible for another human’s entire well-being, my weight is still not where I want it to be, I have a different mindset when I wake up and when I go to sleep and, because of this beautiful baby girl, my outlook on life has totally changed. Below are some of the realities of, and how to get through, postpartum.
Whether you’re a first or second time mom (or third, fourth, etc.), you have to prioritize your day so that it includes taking care of another human. Keeping a schedule in the beginning is almost impossible. But with each passing day, it becomes easier to create a routine. As baby gets older, they need your undivided attention less and less so that you can take care of other necessary and important things (i.e. house chores and spending time with your husband). And speaking of your husband: don’t forget about him…but also don’t feel guilty for spending a little less time with him because you’re busy taking care of baby (more about that below).
This is one of the most emotional times in your life. Thoughts like, “I love this baby so much” and “What the heck have I done?” coexist in your mind and you probably feel a little (or a lot) guilty about thinking this way. This is normal! You’re not alone. Other moms feel exactly the same way and it’s important to stay strong mentally to thrive at this important season of your life. Avoiding the baby blues, postpartum anxiety, and depression is hard to do, but being intentional with positivity will help keep your mind from having the doom and gloom thoughts as much. Counting your blessings can help you change your perspective. I also found that prayers of gratitude to God for giving me my miracle baby, and asking Him to help me get through each day, was beneficial for me!
This is a big one for many moms because we live in such a visual world. Every woman’s body is different before pregnancy and the way pregnancy affects every woman is different as well. Some women gain extra weight and hold onto it after having their baby, some have stretch marks, some acquire physical issues that you wouldn’t even guess were a result of carrying a baby. It can be difficult to accept this new body along with all of the other new things you’re trying to get used to! My advice on this is that you have to take each day as it comes. Don’t get caught up in what someone else looks like after having their baby. Back to pre-pregnancy weight right away? Great! But if not, don’t beat yourself up. Maybe you never will be? And that’s okay, too. Do what you feel is best for you with what you have. Struggling just to get up and take care of a baby every day seems like “no big deal” until you’re actually doing it and you don’t have as much time for yourself anymore.
Don’t Lose Yourself
Losing sight of who you are after having a baby is all too easy to do. Your new baby can’t take care of themselves, and even if you have a husband who helps you, you’re still the main lifeline to that child. And if you don’t have a spouse to help you, I would imagine it’s even more difficult. Remember to give yourself some “you” time. Whether it’s the five minute shower you take while your baby is napping or a quick coffee date with a friend while your husband watches the baby, whatever brings you joy aside from being a mom, remember those things. Try to find a little time for yourself every day!
Mom (and Wife) Guilt
Feeling guilty for taking care of your baby or yourself is not necessary. You shouldn’t do it! But reality is, you probably will anyway. Guilt for neglecting the baby to do house chores, guilt for neglecting your husband for taking care of the house and baby, the list goes on. This is inevitable for most moms and it’s something we need to stop doing. You can only do so much and spread yourself so far. Pat yourself on the back…you’re doing great!
The most important thing for you to take away from this is to remember you are important, you matter, you are your babies’ whole world and they need you! Stay healthy, stay strong, and don’t give up on being the best “you” for your baby. I’m trying to do the same!
Please feel free to leave a comment with some of your suggestions, or just to share your experience, for this both wonderful and trying time.