You’re a mom!
So, in your experience, would you agree, that: Some parts of being a new mom are kind of like pulling all-nighters in college? But minus the fun parts?
I think every mom has been in that place, where—you know—you’re super freaking tired and shushing your baby for the hundredth time in the middle of the night, and you just think to yourself: “Ugh! What happened to my life?”
Because as it turns out, there are some pretty rough trials one must undergo, for the privilege of being called “mom.” And if we’re being real: Pulling all-nighters are just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, as someone who has worked in postpartum support for several years—and has spoken to more than a hundred women about their lives after birth–it has become quite clear to me, that many of us feel slightly stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious while caring for our newborns.
Which, for the record, is totally understandable.
Because when we delve into the truth of what modern-day early motherhood often looks and feels like: It seems to be filled with too much responsibility, burden, and isolation placed on the healing new mother, coupled with very little in the way of knowledge, resources, or support about how to best manage all of the challenges that can come up for us, during that first year of our babies lives.
So while we tirelessly drudge on with all of our maternal (and external) responsibilities—a.k.a.–try to keep up with our babies relentless, around-the-clock demands—many of us are also carrying the burden of some combination of mental, emotional, and physical stress—which, of course, is the natural result of us continually overextending ourselves.
Let’s stop for a moment, and consider the foundation for the postpartum time of our lives:
First off: we just gave birth—a momentous act—to say the very least—from which our bodies require ample rest and recovery to be able to properly function.
Next: we are faced with the mammoth task of figuring out how to nourish our babies with crazed frequency.
And lastly: getting chronically low sleep at night, routinely, is beyond torturous to our nervous systems; affecting our whole health, our energy, and our moods!
But there ARE things you can do to set yourself up for greater postpartum success.
Here are my top 3 recommendations, for what a new mom can do to take better care of herself postpartum:
1. Read this book. I don’t recommend reading too many ‘baby’ books–as too much contradictory advice can often make a new parent’s head want to explode–and it can often be more harmful than helpful. But this book–The First 40 Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou–is a beautifully written and gentle tribute to the postpartum period.
2. Take this class. Just like you probably signed up for a childbirth education class, like HypnoBirthing, LaMaze, or the Bradley Method– you owe it to yourself to get enrolled in some postpartum ed! It’s just as important to be educated and informed about what to expect and how to circumnavigate the challenges in this chapter of your life (after birth), as it is to know what to do during the birth itself! Science and our physiology suggest that the postpartum period lasts between an entire year, to three years–and can effect your health for the rest of your life! The Better Postpartum program is the most comprehensive (and fun) postpartum class out there. So check it out!
3. Get ready to ask for help. I know a lot of overachievers. Infact, I used to be one. Eventually I realized that acting like a martyr for my family wasn’t actually making me happy. It was making me bitter, resentful, and hot-tempered. But the worst part about it, by far, is that it was literally stealing away both my health and my happiness. So my advice? Drop the “do it all” complex, and ask for help! Please–do me a favor and try to accept that none of those things (except appointments) are your job, for at least the first 4-6 weeks after you give birth.
Because the way I see it is: We all have this awesome opportunity (or shall I say— responsibility?) to be a part of an important, cultural shift, in how the postpartum time is treated and viewed.
But the change must start with YOU. Let’s start setting ourselves up for the best possible start with our babies!