I was inspired to write this post by a few people in my life who’ve recently had babies or are about to, and some moms who I’ve come across online as well. I figured that there’s many of you out there (or about to be!) and instead of giving advice in private, I’d share it on here.
Your body’s going to go through some things!
Many people refer to the first few months post partum as the fourth trimester, and they call it that for a reason. Just like with the pregnancy trimesters, your body goes through a lot of changes in the months after. As we all do for pregnancy, I suggest you do a bit of research into post partum recovery and what to expect your body to go through. That’s something I wish I had done; ask questions about what happens after having a baby. As with a lot of things about pregnancy and motherhood; we shouldn’t leave it to just mainstream media to educate us, because it leaves out the majority of the important stuff. So, this is where blogs like mine come into play 🙂 Your body is going to go through a lot of things while your body resets itself after birth. For me, I was most shocked by the night sweats! Every time after I’d wake up I’d be in a puddle of sweat in my bed. I didn’t know if it was normal or if I was starting to get sick with a fever. Thankfully my mom was around those first few weeks after I had Kai and she assured me it’s totally normal (having gone through it 5 times herself) and she explained it all to me, but the medical team at the hospital left that out. The other thing that caught me by surprise was the feeling of looseness in my tummy. The best way to describe it was when I’d get off my bed or couch, and I’d have to pause for a moment to let my body fall back into place. It was like the contents of my tummy were scrambled around and still finding their rightful place. Yeah, very weird.
Don’t be too scared to accept help
As women, we feel pressure from all angles, especially when we’re expecting. How many of us believed that motherhood meant perfection? People say “you’ll know what to do when you have the baby” but the truth is sometimes we have no clue, and that’s also fine. Or you don’t have the energy – I mean you just finished creating a human being and on top of that giving birth to this child. However you did it, it’s an exhausting, traumatic experience on your body and you need to give yourself some credit and a break. If you have family or friends who offer help – don’t be a heroine and say no, believing that you must be the one to do everything for your child. As your child gets older, that help offering will dissipate, trust me. Becoming a mom, especially for the first time is extremely overwhelming and confusing. The more help you get, the quicker you’ll recover and be able to take care of your child. I mean this not just physically, but also mentally. Whether it’s with the baby or the housework or both, just let them help. And if no one is proactive in helping, ask for the help. When you do, try to be specific about what you need help with. A lot of women who aren’t moms yet, don’t know how to help a mom friend. If you need help to do groceries, laundry or if you just need her to mind your baby to make sure it’s still alive – tell her so. If they’re really friends, they’d want to help.
Don’t forget about your husband/partner
The conversation is always around women becoming mothers and hardly ever about men becoming fathers. I know this point will come across controversial but, as women we’re told that when we get married, our husbands are our be all or end all. Then when we become moms, all of a sudden the focus completely shifts when we have our babies. Yes, men are grown and can feed themselves (or at least order take out to survive), but completely leaving him out of this new stage may cause problems in your relationship later. Oh, and why do this whole parenting thing without him? How about discover it together. I believe the first few months of a baby’s life sets up the relationship dynamic between you, your husband and baby. If you end up doing everything for your child, or the few times your husband tries to help and you end up criticising how he does things, he’ll likely not want to help later on. Letting him know what you’re expecting from him helps. I know it’s a lot, but try – when you can – praise him a little bit, especially if he’s doing something well. It’ll make him feel more confident and likely to do it more. I tried to make sure to thank my husband when he’d handle the night shift, wash Kai’s bottles or cook dinner and I started seeing that it became reciprocal and more frequent, which was also nice for me. It’s easy to start feeling like you’re the only parent in the house, and if you act like the only parent – that’s probably how it’ll be. If he’s really bad at changing nappies, but he’s a decent cook, then maybe you can handle the nappy changing as long as he can cook dinner so the family’s fed. Focusing on his strengths rather than on his weaknesses by suggesting tasks you know he’ll be good at, empowers him and in turn, make your life easier.
Last but definitely not least, don’t forget about yourself
I recently wrote that it’s taken me almost two years to finally embrace my post baby self, and I think I only came to this point because I knew that I had to focus on myself at some point. Please don’t forget about yourself. It’s easy to think we need to take care of everyone, we easily slip to the bottom of the list. If you’re starting to feel lonely, resentful towards your child or husband, talk to someone. Start with your doctor and he/she can refer you to a specialist to help you. Remember that being a better mom means being a better person, so you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Take that break – demand it before you crack. Try not to cripple yourself in doing everything for your baby so that when you do need a one – you can’t take it because no one else knows how to care for your child.
In the end, you’ll eventually find your stride. It’s hella confusing for us all in the beginning. The thing to keep in mind is this too shall pass.
What advice would you give to a first time mama? Or have you recently had a baby? What would you like to know?