Here are some tips, that I regularly share with postpartum mothers, to help them thrive during early motherhood.
The emotional after-effects of birth and becoming a mother are huge and all-encompassing. You will be stretched in an infinite number of ways as you journey home from your birth experience to integrating your “old life” into your new identity as a mother. This process can take one or even up to a few years. These ideas could help:
- Rest: I once read an article where a midwife talked about “in the bed, on the bed, around the bed” to her clients to help them recover for the first few weeks after birth. Birth is most likely the biggest physical marathon you will go through in your life. The more rest you get, the better you will recover, therefore the better you can bond with your baby, excel at breastfeeding and so on.
- Ask for help: It can be difficult to ask for help because you must be vulnerable and you are potentially asking someone to come into a part of your life that may feel painful. If you are an independent person it can feel even worse. However, the benefits of knowing you are not alone can far out way the struggle you are dealing with before asking. Who can you call at 4 am when you aren’t able to get a good latch and you feel exhausted?
- Plan for needing support: Who are the helpers in your life? Getting meals, household chores, and dog walking taken care of gets you the rest that you need to recover. If you don’t have any family or friends that are local consider hiring a postpartum doula to help with these duties as well as offer emotional support.
- Let Go of Expectations: In this age of Pinterest and Instagram it can be easy to see early parenting as an idyllic day to day existence of nursing your child in a pristine home while you have perfect hair and a smile on your face. Some days may be like that but most likely not many. Your reality could end up being a colicky baby that you are at a loss as to how to soothe. This may be a time period when you just need to accept what is happening and make the best of it. Let go of any preconceived ideas you had about your maternity leave or how new motherhood would look or feel and do your best to get through the moments of struggle.
- Flip the script: It is so easy to get caught in a negative feedback loop. Sadly this doesn’t help us or help our baby as they pick up on that energy and it adds to their stress and frustration. When you notice a negative thought (“I didn’t sign up for this”, “This sucks”, “I’m a bad mom” and so on) try to flip that into the positive. “I am doing the best I can.” “This is hard but I can do it” “This is not what I expected but I am resilient.” Consider putting these phrases in areas where you can see them regularly if you need a boost of confidence.
- Self-Care: I can not stress enough the importance of self-care. Self-care as a new mom can look very different than at other times in your life. It can be as simple as having a shower and changing your pyjamas, or even brushing your teeth. If you can take even 5 minutes a day at first this will help you feel more human and less like a walking kitchen.
- Daily meditation: Having a meditation or mindfulness practice can help with so many aspects of parenting as well as day to day life. Since I started to meditate regularly I find it much easier to “flip the script”, to not take my son’s tantrums personally, as well as have more focus and intuition in my work. I highly recommend the Insight Timer app for both creating your own meditation as well as exploring thousands of guided meditations, including their parenting section.
- Exercise: once you have had time to recover from birth starting to exercise can make a big improvement in your energy level, your mood, and your coping skills. Start slowly with walks around the block and build up from there. Our Dancing For Birth™class is a fun way to bond with yourself, your baby and enjoy some gentle exercise.
- Finding Your Mom Tribe: having other people around you who are going through similar things can normalize your experience. Check out the Early Years Centres for free programs and resources. Life with a Baby has tons of free mom and baby events and support for parents that are struggling with a variety of new parenting issues.
Please consider reaching out to us if you are struggling. We are happy to connect you to further resources and support if you are local to Waterloo Region and surrounding communities.
In addition, all of our Birth Preparation Coaching packages include a postpartum planning component to help map out what your postpartum reality could look like and how to set up the support and resources you need.