We had our third baby a little over two months ago. It has been a while since we’ve had a newborn in the house, and as prepared as I thought I was for the days and weeks after bringing him home, I was sorely mistaken. Being left wanting in what I’ve read, and been told about postpartum self-care; I’m here to offer up my own experiential advice.
5 Postpartum Self-Care Tips:
1. Be creative with your sleep. People will tell you that “sleep” is the most important postpartum self-care tip, and when baby sleeps, you should too. Believe me, I’d love to sleep when he sleeps. I also have a four year old, however, and a husband, and a home, and all of these things need to be taken care of. I’d also like to get a shower once in a while, which seems to only be possible when baby is asleep. Even if I could catch a few Z’s while he is asleep, my four year old probably isn’t going to nap on a whim. So we play games like “Let’s pretend Mommy is a table, and you can have a tea party on the special Mommy-table.” Blankets come in handy as a nice tablecloth.
2. It’s okay to cry. A lot. When I can’t get enough sleep (see tip #1), I tend to get overly emotional. It’s expected, it’s normal, and it’s completely okay. For some reason, we tend to think postpartum self-care is limited to the things you can do that will make others think you have it all together. I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows having a baby in the home is hard work, and you’re allotted tears. Your hormones are still crazy, you’re not getting enough sleep, your life has just been turned upside down and you’re trying to sort things out physically and emotionally. It’s okay to cry. Do not be ashamed for feeling overwhelmed, over-tired, or overrun.
3. Let people help you. After we had our son, I was overly protective of him. We lost our second child to stillbirth, so when he came along, I didn’t want to put him down. I didn’t want anyone to hold him, I didn’t want anyone to feed him other than me, I wanted him in my line of sight at all times. Now that it’s been a few months, I’ve become more relaxed, and for good reason. In postpartum self-care, you cannot self-care at all if you are constantly holding your baby. When you’re ready, and with people you trust, invite them over to hold your little one so you can let your arms breathe, and take care of a few other household things that are driving you nuts. It’s a lot easier to do the dishes with both hands.
4. Expect and prepare for postpartum depression. It is a real thing, it affects a large percentage of mothers, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Right around the three to six week mark after having our son, I was greatly affected by postpartum depression. I was able to recognize it for what it was, however, and allowed myself to process emotions and feelings as they happened, rather than worrying about what I was feeling or why. Again, the flux of hormones, the lack of sleep, and multiple people demanding your time and attention are a bad combination for maintaining a peaceful, easy feeling. Prepare yourself for postpartum depression, and make sure you have people available to support you through it. Make sure to bring any outlying concerns to the attention of your doctor if symptoms don’t lessen over time.
5. Get out of the house. This is one of the most crucial tips for postpartum self-care. So often you get caught up in taking care of baby, the house, your other kids, and it’s easy to run around in sweats and skip showers, and stay indoors. I know, because I did it. When the opportunity presents itself, grab onto it – tightly, with both hands! – and get out of the house. Even if it’s a trip to the grocery store, the freeing sense of being alone for a while, with no demands or familial stressors, is invigorating. Make an appointment for a pedicure. Get a massage. Go to Target and shop for some new clothes or shoes. Drive through somewhere, park at your favorite scenic spot, and enjoy a hot meal with no interruptions. You will be renewed, refreshed, and you will be able to better care for your family after having a little personal space.
Remember this is only temporary – and that statement is two-fold. The stress and chaos of this time will be short-lived in the grand scheme of things. That said, however, so will the baby cuddles and snuggles. The high-pitched infant cries and the sleepy feedings. Try to relish as many of these moments as you can, and still allow yourself some personal time and space. Finding a healthy mix between the two will help you enjoy these moments all the more, and will give you the tools to handle the more stressful moments of motherhood.
Do you have any postpartum self-care tips?
Copyright © Val Kleppen, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved
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