When I was expecting to be a mom for the first time, no one ever spoke about postpartum or what happens after the baby was born.
After becoming a mom of two kids there are some valuable lessons I learned which I want to share with other moms-to-be so they can prepare themselves better.
Growing & nurturing a human is not a joke and all the expectations from the fragile and healing postpartum body are overwhelming.
While this precious bundle of joy is placed in your hands, the joy of motherhood embraces you and the feeling is unexplainable.
But then it all changes after returning home.
The supply of adrenaline abandoning, the edge of exhaustion from labor, sore body, and sleepless nights making you crawl for visualizing who you used to be.
On top of it, the seriousness of the new responsibility is overwhelming and terrifying. You might have loved ones looking up with expectations who might not be able to meet – leading to the birth of mom guilt.
From my experience, I have realized that postpartum and motherhood complexities can be something you can never prepare for.
But yet I did try and followed some things differently for my second baby which made my postpartum super smooth.
Here are some ideas I wish to share that can help you feel less guilty and support you through the transition.
Remember – While it’s hard, we are built to handle it!
1. The Importance of an Understanding Partner and an Emergency Support System
While becoming a mom makes you super responsible for the little one, we often forget that it is also our responsibility to ask for help from a partner or a close family member when in need.
If you are someone like me, and you hate asking for help, here is something you can learn from my experience:
I overwhelmed myself to the core the first time I had a baby. I jumped too soon to get back to normal and wanted to get everything done by myself which just added more pressure to my postpartum body.
And my restless mood eventually hurt everyone at home.
No matter how capable you are, it is always a good idea to have a support system that can come to help when there is a need.
Plan to have a close family member or a friend who can help you watch the baby or help you cook a meal or just listen to you when you are overwhelmed.
These help you avoid postpartum overwhelm and eventually avoid postpartum anxiety/ depression.
2. The Importance of Me-Time
Though motherhood brings in all the joy & love, I was grieving in the initial months and felt like losing my identity.
While it is very normal to feel that way because of the exhaustion and constant attention to little ones, it is also important to spare some time for self-care.
Take time to do something you enjoy. Reading a book, Netflix, writing, or anything that makes you feel refreshed.
Don’t be surprised if you feel monotonous. I felt like all I do in a day is feed, burp, and change baby – lying in the same bed and using the same toilet – dying to get fresh air or see a face that is strange.
Fun fact: Somedays I was confused to choose between food and sleep. Breastfeeding makes you super hungry and also you are tired and waiting to sleep when the baby sleeps (because that happens rarely with all the chores that pile up).
Take it easy!
Choose to rest over shower, choose to eat while you are nursing, keep a nursing/postpartum caddy ready with snacks, headphones, and an iPad.
3. Compromise Parenting Choices on Crazy Days
Becoming a mom second time comes with a load of responsibilities of an older child in addition to the newborn.
Prepare yourself to manage the juggle – make plans with your partner to help, prepare to compromise on parenting choices if need be.
Decisions on screen time, change in eating or sleeping schedules, or ways to handle any kind of meltdowns – prepare to compromise.
It is a tough one mama! But it’s a phase and it shall soon pass and you can get back to your original routine soon.
I had difficulty accepting this for quite some time and eventually, I had to let go and started feeling how tough I was on myself.
4. Accept Changes in Some Relationships
Your friends who are yet to have babies are incapable of understanding why you canceled the plan or why you cannot stay over or why you did not receive the phone call.
Learn to forgive them and understand their inability to understand your situation.
now that they still love you and eventually understand when things get better.
Give yourself some grace and let go of the thought of pleasing others (motherhood brings in some changes which everyone cannot understand).
5. Embrace Mom Guilt
Remember and learn to live in the reel of mom guilt – now and forever.
When I had my first baby, I was guilty to leave the baby with anyone thinking it is my responsibility.
And when I was expecting my second one, I was always guilty if that is going to affect my first child and the chain of guilt that just grew.
There is no end to this feeling. Embrace it and understand it is part of the mom’s brain.
Taking time for yourself is always a vital ingredient for your family’s happiness.
6. The Importance of Setting Clear Boundaries With Loved Ones
Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. However, with a new baby, expectations differ because there is the involvement of two different human beings who are excited about the new little phase of their life.
Determine boundaries and set them clearly by talking to your loved ones.
If you do not want visitors in the recovery room or at home in the initial weeks, politely refuse. Tell them if you don’t like someone or something in front of the baby.
Setting boundaries helps you to let your loved ones know what upsets you and help them to understand your comfort during this tender phase.
7. Know That You Do Not Have to Explain Your Parenting Decisions
Parenting attracts unsolicited advice and judgment from everyone.
You do not want to breastfeed? You do not want to offer screen time? Do not want to follow a particular religion? Not comfortable giving your baby to someone?
You do not owe an explanation to anyone (except for a co-parent depending on the situation). You have all the right to parent your way.
Have an ignore button to all the unnecessary advice and move on.
Remember – Your Baby Your Rules! No justification owed to anyone.
8. Respect and Love Your Body
If there is one thing I fell in love with apart from the little human after becoming a mom is my body!
And I am extremely grateful for every part of the contribution it does to nurture the little ones.
Whether your postpartum body returns to normal or looks the same, or whether you had complications or not, your body did a tremendous job and deserves respect for completing a miraculous assignment.
Take time to admire it all and live every moment with self-compassion.
9. Know That Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Can Be Real
The phase after giving birth is tender and sensitive – not just physically but also mentally.
Know that everything that can happen during postpartum and lookout for help when you think you might have postpartum depression or anxiety.
Although I dodged the postpartum depression or anxiety both times, I was emotionally unstable and experienced a lot of baby blues.
10. Brace Yourself! You Do Not Have to Cherish Every Moment
While having a baby is joyful, you absolutely don’t have to cherish every moment.
There are a lot of times during my mom-life which I did not cherish: Sleepless nights, Colic, regressions, tantrums are to name some.
It was stressful.
I needed fresh air, change in my routine, and always wished I could have handled it better. I do not cherish those awful moments filled with anger and screaming.
No matter what everyone says, it is ok not to cherish every moment and that absolutely does not mean you don’t love your baby.
It just means you are being honest with yourself, and some things really are more important than that.