The postpartum period is a sometimes hard, confusing and tiring time. It is important to reach out to those in your life for help, to give yourself grace and to be patient and understand that things take time. You are strong and capable and even if you feel exhausted and at the end of your rope REACH out to those you love and let others help you.
Take advantage of the help after giving birth especially in the hospital [if you choose to have a hospital birth] because it is a whirlwind of aches and pains and emotions. I remember after I gave birth to my second I had a scheduled C section and I was trying to put on a face that I was fine and didn’t need any help. But deep down I was sore, everything sucked and I could barely walk to the bathroom without crying. I remember the nurses coming in asking if they can help me and I’d say “No, I am fine I promise” but I wasn’t and by not putting my pride aside it impacted my healing. So when my third was born I took advantage of the help because that is what they are there for - to help you physically and emotionally. I personally find nurses to be saints and by allowing them to help this time made my stay more comfortable and smoother as I allowed them to help me with tasks. Even showering. Ask for help it is okay! Do not be modest! Your body will thank you later!
I think sometimes it’s easier to allow people to have an input when it comes to pretty much anything in life versus speaking your truth about how they are overstepping and it is impacting you on a personal and physical level. Once we give birth everything is new regardless if it is your first child or tenth child it is all new as it is all different each time. One thing you have to remember is that the child is YOUR child not your families, not your friends, not the neighbors but yours. It is easy for your loved ones to give opinions or overstep even if they have amazing intentions it’s enough to be super overwhelming. Setting boundaries is so important because it not only helps them understand what you would like and expect but it helps you not feel so overwhelmed when the time comes. Before you even give birth set those boundaries with the people in your life on what you would like and how you would like it and if you choose not to have visitors at all versus everyone coming up THAT IS OKAY that is your choice set those boundaries. When the time comes, nobody is thrown off and they are already on board because you spoke up on how you felt and set those boundaries.
There is nothing like comfort once you give birth. Comfort can range from your own personal belongings, the ones you love, a special pillow or even just being in your home. The recovery process after giving birth no matter how you birthed or where is always going to be hard so why not be comfortable. When I had my children I made sure to have things that made me feel comfortable and safe even just my own pillow was comforting enough for me! You should have anything that makes you feel comfortable so you can keep calm and try to have a good recovery. Once you get home comfort is also a huge deal as breastfeeding if you choose to do, is hard! You want to be comfortable with a pillow, your own blankets, a place low to the ground to sleep on - even just the couch. Make sure the places in your home are close and easy to make you feel good. I personally feel that my recovery went a lot more smoothly with a comfortable environment.
Don’t lift that.
Yes you just did an incredible thing by having a child or even more than one but remember your body is tired and needs rest so leave the heavy lifting to someone else. Everything can wait. I am a huge go-getter and I have always been the type to do things by myself and I do not need help from anyone. But everyone has a limit and we need to accept that. After my most recent child was born my c section was ROUGH. Really hard. I had a lot of extra scar tissue and the entire surgery from start to finish was two hours. So there were extra cuts and it was a lot more than a normal birth. So when I got home I had to take it easy because I didn’t want to land back in the hospital. I relied on my husband and children and friends to really do the heavy lifting. Heavy lifting can mean “Literal lifting, cooking, errands, cleaning”. Let others lift things for you. Rest.
Lower your expectations of yourself after you become a new parent. It is easy to expect more from yourself when you are used to doing everything possible all the time. After my most recent child was born it was hard to lower my own expectations because I am used to taking care of the home, the cooking and the kids. I had to sit back and accept that I am starting fresh again, learning to breastfeed again, that it takes up to 6 weeks to recover from birth. When focusing on expectations ask yourself if they are realistic expectations or overwhelming and think about what each will do for you physically and mentally.
We make a lot of mistakes as parents, especially as mothers. If I were to stop and look back over the years of parenting so many little things have happened that I wish I could go back and change. It’s always the little things and we have to remember things do happen. When we give birth we tend to beat ourselves up over every little thing including, how we are able to feed our child, not picking them up fast enough when they cry. Or even accidentally neglecting spending time with the other children. These are things we need to forgive ourselves over. Stop beating yourself up over something that accidentally happened or over something that happened that was out of your control. If you suffer from postpartum depression forgive yourself for being so hard on yourself. Learn to forgive yourself so your children can have a happy parent.
Give yourself time.
Your world just changed and while everything is exciting and new, remember it’s okay to miss how things used to be. Having a new child is one of the greatest blessings but it’s okay to miss how calm things used to be. Being able to do things on your own when you want. Sleeping 9 hours a day without interruption. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life. It can take some time so take each day as it comes and be open with the ones you love about how you are feeling. Adjusting to new changes are hard and you don’t have to do it alone. Talk with a friend, partner or even a journal about how you are feeling and adjusting to your new life.
Hug someone once a day.
I’d say the average person likes hugging. BUT there are quite a few that don’t like being touched which is completely respectable. But for those of you that do appreciate a good hug, find someone to hug once a day. I love hugging my kiddos they really do calm me down and bring me back down to a normal level. When I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a hug from my spouse helps a lot. Hugging releases feel good hormones and we all want to feel good! Especially after giving birth.
Invest in yourself.
We tend to be really hard on ourselves once we give birth and pick at every imperfection. We do not like the way we look, our hair could use some love, we would love to be thinner, our back is tense and sore and the list goes on. Invest in yourself, take time for yourself and find things to do to benefit your well being. Get your hair done, even if you stay home all day. Get that cute shirt you have been eyeballing on amazon. The little things make a huge difference for you and for everyone else.
It’s hard to find joy in the early stages of your postpartum recovery. You are exhausted, your nipples and boobs probably hurt, you feel kind of lonely and you don’t feel like your normal self. Find joy in the things you enjoy doing and work on finding your happiness each day. Have a conversation with a friend or loved one, go for a quiet walk, take an intense kickboxing class. Whatever you can do to find joy, do that.
I don’t care how silly it sounds. Just do them. You can do them while you are driving or sitting or standing in the coffee line. It is a very annoying task but it will help a ton when it comes to strengthening your pelvic floor.
Surround yourself with the ones you love and remove the negative from your life. Once we have removed the toxicity and negative we are able to feel more positive and learn to love ourselves as well as relay that positive feeling to others around us. By doing this we are allowing the healing part of postpartum to go a lot smoother. We don’t want to heal and focus on our family if we do not feel loved or that we are loving.
I know we all have friends. But we all can relate to one thing and that is when we have our babies a lot of those friends never come around and that can be completely overwhelming. When we don’t have our friends surrounding us we can feel isolated and lonely. There are quite a few different types of mom groups and dad groups that we can join in order to connect with new people. We are all going through things and while they may be different, that postpartum period can be really tough. Make a friend or a few friends and you may be surprised on how much you have in common with others.
The postpartum period has you feeling all sorts of ways and one of the big ways is HUNGRY. Especially if you are pumping or breastfeeding that hunger feeling is always lurking around the corner. It is super easy to snack on chips and cookies and anything you can grab and that is fine, however, it isn’t the healthiest option. Find snacks that are easy to grab but a healthier option. Fruit and veggies, yogurts and applesauce, high fiber grains and plan bigger meals ahead of time. If you plan dinner earlier in the day you are less likely to order in which can make you feel tired, sluggish and overall not so good about yourself. Don’t get me wrong, eat the things. But try to eat the good things too.
Go outside. You don’t have to go outside for very long but just being outside can lift your mood even slightly. It is easy to have a baby or even babies and isolate yourself to the couch and refuse to go outside because you are exhausted and you just don’t want to. When we isolate ourselves and refuse to go outside we are aiding in that potential postpartum depression feeling that could come at any time. I always say that the sunshine even in the winter is one of nature's antidepressants. Grab a warm blanket if it’s chilly, a cup of tea or coffee and sit outside even for a couple of minutes. Soak up that fresh air before you start your day.
The postpartum period can be hard. Very hard. We are struggling to breastfeeding or choosing not to at all. We are tired and sore and we are struggling with our postpartum body. We need to accept that finding what is “normal” will take some time. I know that I am guilty of wanting to rush things but I know that it can take some time. We need to understand that we just created a life and by doing so our body took a beating and we need to stop focusing so much on losing weight and more appreciating our body.
This is one of my favorite things. Quiet time. Me time. My time to do whatever I want, even if it’s for 30 minutes. We can feel overwhelmed by people and chores and our feelings and when it’s all at once we want to hide. Finding time every day to just be alone is very important so we can sit and collect our thoughts and rewind just a little bit. Going for a walk is great, listening to a podcast, taking a bubble bath or even just sitting on the couch in the dark can all be ways to enjoy some quiet time.
You. Just. Gave. Birth. Seriously just lay down and put your feet up. The laundry can wait. The dishes are annoying but can also wait. Ask for help and stop being so stubborn and allow the people in your life to do things for you while you rest and heal.
This can be getting your hair done, getting your favorite coffee, taking a yoga class or even grabbing a drink with friends. Pay attention to yourself. It is easy to get caught up in taking care of everyone around you and put yourself behind you. Get your nails done or get a pedicure, take care of yourself.
You can talk to anyone just talk. It’s easy to hide in your room all day, I've done it. It is easy to hang inside and close yourself off to the outside world but I find that if we talk to others, our partner, family, or even to ourselves it can make us feel a ton better. The postpartum period can be very lonely, don’t allow it to be lonely. Talk to people.
Understand that everything is going to change and probably pretty drastically. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or eight. It is going to be a whirlwind of emotions and feelings and sometimes there will be days where you can’t do anything about it. Just learn to sit down and relax as much as you can and stop trying to understand and just accept the things that come. Trying to understand and control will only stress you out and that is the last thing you need right now.
It takes a village to raise kids. When I had my first I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be and isolated myself from the outside world and hid in my cave. I felt overwhelmed and very isolated. I thought I had to do it alone and I didn’t want to burden anyone by asking for help. Now I know that the help is needed, never be ashamed to ask for help. It really does take a village when it comes to work, getting kiddos to school, even taking a shower and making a meal could use extra hands. Allow those in your life to help you. Create your village and love them.
This may sound really silly especially since you just gave birth but wear your clothes. The cute ones. The cute tops that you don’t want to wear because you fear they won’t look good or you think isn’t acceptable since you just gave birth. Just put the shirt on, own it, your new body and head out. Our bodies have changed and things may look a TON different. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy wearing your favorite things.
Obviously you only want to exercise when you get cleared from your doctor especially after giving birth but when you are in the clear, it is a great way to clear your mind. Don’t go running a marathon right away but small walks are great, yoga in the evenings or even just a short brisk walk to the mailbox and back can be beneficial. Moving your body is not only good for your body in general but it is also great for your mind. Breathing in fresh air or if you choose to exercise inside, moving in general is a great way to start the day and to feel good.
You are strong and amazing.
You just had a baby or maybe even more than one. If you had a baby vaginally, by cesarean section, by surrogate or by adoption. YOU ARE AMAZING. Remember that. You are now a parent and no matter how your child came into the world you should be proud to know that they are yours and you are theirs. Becoming a parent isn’t easy but you are strong and you’ve got this! The postpartum period is for anyone who has had a baby. Whether you are the mother, partner, carrier or an adoptive parent, you had a baby. You are amazing.
Get some Z’s.
Sleep anytime you can. Baby wakes a lot during the night and it tends to last a few years, at least with my kids it did. They will fuss, cry, sneak into your room and while they are so sweet and you love them, YOU need your rest too. If they are taking a cat nap you should do the same. If a friend offers to come and watch the baby while you take a nap - PLEASE take them up on the offer. By you getting plenty of rest will make for a happy parent and help the healing process go a lot smoother.
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