A month ago, we welcomed our second baby boy in to our family. My first son, Jack just turned three years old. Aside from not knowing the gender of each baby, my two pregnancies were pretty much the same, however, the deliveries of these two babies couldn’t have been more different. Like night and day. With Jack, I was in labor for a really long time, pushed for hours and ended up having a c-section. When we got home, I had a ton of anxiety….I think it was a big mix of postpartum depression/sleep deprivation/ first time mom nervousness.
Desi was born 4 weeks early, the labor wasn’t as long and I was able to push him out, no c-section necessary. Even though this was my second time around, I still expected the anxiety….but it never came. Immediately after delivering Desi, I felt great and continued to do so. Both of my experiences were special in their own ways, but my husband and I could not stop talking about how different they were.
When I got pregnant with Desi, I wanted to make sure that I did things differently this time around. Not so much during my pregnancy, but after, when we were home. The following is a list of things that I think are really important for a new mom (or any mom who just gave birth) to do. I know everyone’s situation can be very different, so please keep in mind these are just suggestions and you should do what feels right for you. Here goes:
Ask for and accept help. After I had Jack, I was always uncomfortable accepting help, let alone asking for it. I felt like I was supposed to do everything myself and if someone did help me, I felt guilty. What was I thinking? This time around, I fully accept and appreciate all of the meals that are cooked for us, all of the time family and friends give so that I can shower/nap/do laundry, etc. and I *let* others help take care of the baby. I have no problem letting others feed him or change diapers. I may even take advantage of this a little bit…don’t tell!
Sleep. Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps. With Jack, I felt like I couldn’t possibly sleep because there was too much to do (since I wasn’t doing number 1). Now, I schedule someone to come over and hang out with the baby so I can nap when Jack naps. It doesn’t work out every single day, but I am trying to make it happen as often as possible. I am trying to not be a hero….and I am working on maintaining some self-care. I fully understand this time around that if I am not taken care of, it’s even harder to take care of others. It is a struggle though…a work in progress. If you’re really not into taking naps, just enjoy your time and relax; watch tv, read a book, call a friend.
Eat good food and hydrate. This sounds easy and obvious, but it’s not. There will be days when you realize you really haven’t eaten much of anything, let alone anything nutritious. I recommend using a food delivery service if that’s available to you. I get an order of organic fruits and vegetables delivered to my door every two weeks. It keeps my fridge stocked with healthy options so I always have something good on hand. Another recommendation I will make is to drink lots of red raspberry leaf tea, especially right when you get home. This herbal tea helps tone and strengthen the uterus and decreases bleeding post delivery. It’s full of calcium and magnesium. I like to drink it cold with some lemon and mint. Drink that and lots and lots of water!
Get outside. Weather permitting, get yourself outside. The fresh air will do wonders for you and your baby. Whether you go for a walk (when you feel up to it) or just sit outside for a bit, being outdoors will boost your mood, energy and spirits. And you will feel good about actually getting out and *doing something*.
Give yourself this time to be present. When you are a new mom, you have no idea of how fast time goes by and how much happens in that first year. There will be moments when you wish for certain things to be over (sleepless nights, crying, etc.) but the thing is…this time is temporary and it will all seem not so bad once each phase is over. The most important thing to focus on is your baby and know that this too shall pass.
Exercise for your mood, not to get your body back in shape. During this time, you have SO much going on. Moving your body and exercising will boost your mood, but do yourself a huge favor mama and don’t put any pressure on yourself to get back in shape quickly. Even if you feel good physically, there is a lot of internal healing going on. That combined with sleep deprivation/exhaustion is not a good mix to start working out vigorously. When I had Jack, I didn’t even think about working out until he was 10 months old. Since I am not recovering from surgery this time, I am looking forward to working out again (probably sooner than 10 months from now). I want to be able to keep up with Jack and feel recovered and strong to take care of and play with my boys.
Acknowledge yourself. As a new mom, you may question every single thing you do (or don’t do) for your little baby. You may feel completely inadequate and lacking confidence. You may also feel like you haven’t done anything all day long. Acknowledge yourself. You are doing so much, every single day, for your baby; feeding, burping, changing diapers, bathing, loving, nurturing, consoling, rocking, worrying, laundry, more laundry, cleaning bottles, pumping, the list goes on and on. We do all of these things without blinking an eye so it’s very easy to overlook all that you actually do. Give yourself some credit and acknowledge all that you do. Don’t wait for anyone else to give it to you….high five yourself and know that you are doing the best that you can.The biggest job you will do is to love this new little person, so acknowledge yourself for how much your heart has grown and how much you are able to love.
Reach out for support. Call a friend/family member if you need to vent, are feeling frustrated or have questions. Don’t feel guilty either…you are not the only one that has ever felt this way. Sometimes these babies can make you feel crazy…it’s ok to be honest with what you’re feeling and to get feedback from those you trust.
Having listed all of these tips, the best tip I can give you is to completely ignore these tips and all of the other ones everyone will give you, if they don’t feel right to you. You will get so much *advice* it will make your head spin. Trust yourself and don’t worry about listening to anyone else. Sometimes you have to find your own way. 🙂
Hope this helps! What else would you add to this list?