We all see the blissful side of what it's like with a new baby. But here's the truth – postpartum life has it's uglies, too. Whether you’ve been cursed with the baby blues or not, nobody really talks about the ups and downs you’ll experience once you’ve finally been blessed with that sweet newborn of yours. I think it is something we all need to talk about, and especially for new moms, it’s something we need to be AWARE of.
Our little babe is a DREAM, as I'm sure your babe is going to be a dream as well. But there’s no denying some of the other not-so-glamorous aspects of post-delivery mom life.
I’ve (fortunately) bypassed the “darker” stage, but I did experience some minor baby blues, which was very short-lived. Because of the state I’m in now, I can make light of the “uglier” side. However, to ensure that this message isn’t misinterpreted, I want to preface this with the fact that postpartum depression is not a laughing matter. If you think you are experiencing some of those baby blues, seek help. Talk about it. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. There are so many people and resources available to support you.
All that being said, here’s some heads up on some of the things you may (or may not) be aware of and some pieces of advice for certain aspects of post-delivery life at home.
Wadrobe – tired of the small selection of maternity clothes? You’re not done with them just yet… Unless you want to go out and by “normal” clothes in a couple sizes bigger that you will only wear short-term, maternity clothes will still be your BFF postpartum. It’s not the greatest feeling wearing clothes that were made for pregnant women, when you are NOT pregnant, but hey, your bod just went through 10 months of growth! Expect that it will take some time to get back to “normal” (albeit maybe a bit different than it was before – LOL). #mombod
Speaking of #mombod – it’s all out of sorts after delivery (obviously) but the good news is, that with proper nutrition and exercise you will get your body back eventually. Expect you will most likely still look pregnant, and you may even get people asking when you're due. Before you plot revenge against them, know that it's very normal! Once there's no baby in there, your body may look very scary to you at first. Here’s my tip for you though – don’t even worry about it the first few months of life with baby. Enjoy your time with baby. Embrace your postpartum bod. You just grew a beautiful human inside of you and it did INCREDIBLE things to bring that baby into this world. Don’t let your postpartum body take the attention away from that incredible miracle.
Breastfeeding – I am an advocate of breastfeeding, but also believe that you need to do whatever works best for you and baby. That being said, breastfeeding is TOUGH. Even if baby latches well and there are no problems with your milk supply, the concept of always being tied to babe – wherever you go, baby goes – can be exhausting. Those 2-3 hours in between feedings come and go SO QUICK and you’ll be feeling like you can hardly catch a break. Know that it’s a fleeting period of time in the grand scheme of things. These first few years of baby’s life are SO SHORT compared to the 18+ years you spend with your child. So if you feel discouraged about breastfeeding, just hang on tight and know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. On that note, if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself over it!
Here’s a few tips though; get yourself a REAL good pump and once breastfeeding has been established, allow family and friends to participate in the schedule by introducing the bottle. It will give you some freedom and will give the family an opportunity to spend quality time with baby. Additionally, INVEST in some great nursing bras, both for night AND daytime use. You can’t go cheap with nursing bras!
Some other things to expect for nursing mamas.. engorged breasts for a few days, frequent wet shirts from milk droplings, soaked nursing pads, and limited wardrobe options to ensure for ample access to the breast. #thebooblife
Fatigue – If you think you felt tired during the last months of pregnancy, think again. The fatigue you experience for the first few months is like no other. If you had a busy life before, and now you can hardly muster up the energy to do basic “human” things, it can cause some serious frustration. Again, a very short-lived period of time that will conclude and one of those aspects that instead of mitigating, you will just have to embrace. However, be sure that you’re fueling your body with the proper nutrition to alleviate some of the daytime crash and ask for help. If you can, rest when baby rests, and don’t feel bad when you have no desire to get out of those dirty sweats or wash that 3-day-old hair!
If you are on maternity leave – You are probably like me and thrive off routine, and you most likely have a decent schedule running prior to this baby coming. Be prepared that when you completely shift to being home 24/7 with very little routine, it will be a major adjustment. My biggest piece of advice for you is this… just friggin’ enjoy it! Embrace this new way of life, as it will be short-term, and you will never get this time back with your baby. When you are ready, add a few constants in your day that give you the sense of “routine” but keep it simple. Also, ‘On Becoming Baby Wise’ is a great resource for basics when it comes to developing a schedule for you and baby when you are ready to get yourselves on a schedule.
If you are second/third/fourth-time mom – This period of time looks a little bit different than it did the first. In some ways, you are forced to get back to “real life” a little sooner than you would prefer and the standard “sleep when baby sleeps” doesn’t apply. First, if it’s possible, find a way to have alone time with your new baby. I kept our youngest in childcare a few days a week, while our oldest was in school, and didn’t even feel guilty about it. I had alone time with each of them during this phase, and wanted to ensure that I got that with the newest addition. Second, find ways that the other kids can help you. This makes them feel included, but also gives you some extra helping hands. We have also been putting more responsibility on the kiddos to pitch in around the house. As a growing family, it requires everyone’s helping hands to keep us as close to “functional” as possible!
All in all, this is supposed to be an incredibly joyous time of your life, one that you'll look back on for many years!
…but it may also be one of the hardest as you learn to adjust.
Hang in there, Mama. You are wonderful. You are great. And you are enough!