We, as mothers, can be a little too hard on ourselves after having a child. We’re eager to create this idea of what a perfect mother should look and feel like postpartum, but it’s simply not ideal – and often, it’s not realistic.
We all have our journey during this particular trial in our lives, and shouldn’t compare ourselves to others.
According to Postpartum Depression.org, “approximately 1 in 10 women will experience postpartum depression after giving birth, with some studies reporting 1 in 7 women.”
That’s why it’s crucial to give yourself grace during one of the most difficult times you may ever face.
After having six children of my own, I would like to share these top 7 tips to help new moms during postpartum:
1. Take Naps
Whether this is your first child or your third, I’m sure you’ve heard these words or something similar – sleep when the baby sleeps.
Well, it’s excellent advice! We need rest.
“Distinguishing between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression can be difficult, especially as one condition can aggravate the other. In fact, fatigue is one of the criteria that doctors normally consider when diagnosing depression.” (sleepfoundation.org)
Not only does sleep deprivation contribute to depression, but it can also leave you feeling irritable and cranky.
If your baby is sleeping, please don’t stare at her for the next two hours because you’ve got the warm and fuzzies.
Take. a. nap!
The dishes, laundry, dinner, and all that other stuff can wait.
I realized after each child that the dishes would stay in the sink a little longer, the laundry became a little taller, and we frequented take-out because I needed the rest.
If you have older kids, try to get them to help do those things. Get your husband to take them out of the house for a little while so you can get some peace and quiet, or get a babysitter or grandparents to help keep them occupied.
Trust me, naps are like gold during this time.
You’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the task of caring for your sweet baby, and maybe even the world!
2. Accept Help
If you’ve received a handful of calls and texts from family and friends offering to bring you food, or your mom wants to come over to clean your house, accept the help.
Since you just delivered a tiny human, your body is still recovering. It will definitely be worth it to accept the extra help.
Why not take the food and get your house cleaned for free?
If you don’t want your baby exposed to others for a little while longer, just be upfront about it. No one will hate you for it.
Ask for your food to be delivered to the door.
Help is the best thing you can have during this season in your life, and you will not regret it.
3. Stay Off the Scale (at Least for a Little While)
Are you anxious to get back into your favorite jeans? Are you ready to toss those maternity pants, too?
This one was especially hard for me, but (over time) I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself.
Please give yourself some grace, and stay off the scale. It only makes you compare yourself to where you were before you got pregnant.
Am I saying don’t set goals for yourself? Of course not. But, again, you just delivered a human.
In a Parents magazine article called Postpartum Exercise: Easing Into a Fitness Routine After Birth, writers Debra Flashenberg, Dr. Laura Riley, and Jenn Sirich state:
“To get back into a postpartum exercise routine, new mothers should always be realistic and patient. It took around 40 weeks to form the pregnant body, and it could take nearly as long to fully return to your pre-pregnancy self. No matter if your labor is quick, long, or surgical, the body undergoes a huge transformation to expel a baby.”
While you probably lost twenty pounds soon after giving birth, you may still look pregnant. This is especially true if you feel you have Diastasis-Recti.
I totally get it. I’ve been there five times.
Your belly fat may or may not go away on its own; you may have to work extra hard to get your pre-pregnancy body back, and it’s okay.
Don’t worry about that excess weight right now. Enjoy your baby, and take it one day at a time.
It’s so easy to let yourself go when caring for a newborn.
It can come down to staying hydrated and well-nourished, especially if you are nursing.
When I nursed my children, I was always extremely thirsty. If your body is calling for it, give it what it needs.
If you don’t drink or eat enough (or if you’re not eating in healthy ways), you’re ultimately setting yourself up to be fatigued, moody, and unable to care for your baby properly.
And trust me – you will need the energy!
I also remember how good it felt to get out of bed, brush my teeth and hair, and shower. So, do that!
Hey, shave your legs even. Polish your nails.
Whatever you need to do to give yourself a boost— go for it! (Remember, self-care!)
Related Article: Practical Tips to Help Stressed-Out Moms Cope
5. Just Cry!
Are you feeling a little weepy? Are you crying every time those Chick-Fil-A commercials come on? (Aren’t they so sweet?!)
At times, you may not even know why you’re crying, and that’s okay!
You might be wondering why you’re so sensitive. Well, because you just had a baby! Totally normal.
This article by Hopkins All Children.org provides great insight:
“The transition from pregnancy to parenthood is a major life adjustment — both physically and emotionally. During your baby’s first few days of life, it’s normal to feel emotional highs and lows, something commonly referred to as the “baby blues.”
Did I have the baby blues? Yes
Was I okay with it? Yes
The reason why is that I knew it was normal, and I tried to stay informed and knowledgeable about what could happen and if what I was feeling was something more than just the blues
I know Postpartum Depression is very real!
The key is to stay on top of your feelings.
So, read up, and don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if needed.
6. Get Fresh Air
I say this now because I wish I had done this more during the first year postpartum.
If you have more than one child, then you’re likely not motivated to get everyone dressed and out the door
I’ve felt this way so many times, and especially if I was tired.
However, fresh air does so much for your body and mind. Something about going outside – even if I sit on the porch – gives me a boost in my mood
If you can push through, a short walk won’t hurt, either
Oh, and fresh air is good for your little one, too
7. Live in the Moment
While it is certainly easy to get overwhelmed with your responsibilities besides caring for your baby, like laundry, cooking, and cleaning, I want to tell you that living in the moment is the best thing you can do.
Babies grow extremely fast, and every smile, giggle, and milestone is something to cherish.
I often look back at pictures I had taken the first year of my twins, and there are so many moments that I had forgotten about.
Take time to sit down with your baby and bask in their love.
Take pictures and videos.
Yes, there is a time to take care of responsibilities. Some things can’t be avoided, but don’t let them consume you.
Enjoy your life as a new mother.
Try hard not to beat yourself up over things you just can’t juggle.
You’re still a superwoman, so hang in there.
And, remember how strong and beautiful you are— despite not looking or feeling the best.
You have a tough role right now. Not only did you carry a human for nine super-long months, but you gave birth to that beautiful human; that’s not to be taken lightly.
Our bodies are magnificent in every way, and we can recover well if we do it with grace.
Did you find these tips helpful?