It may seem obvious, but as a new mom we are inundated with new emotions, new to-dos, very little sleep, and a whole lot of questions.
And more than anything, we are more in love than we thought was possible!
You know what might be less obvious?
That self-care is still a priority and one of the best things you can do during this time.
And once you have begun to recover from whatever birth story brought your baby into your arms, the real adjustments begin.
Our society does not hold postpartum time and the mothering community in the high regard it deserves.
Instead, the motto seems to be isolation, fatigue, and getting back to work. So how do we use our resources and make the most of this precious time?
1. Let Them Help!
When grandma and grandpa and your bestie and neighbor lady come a-callin to see that new sweet little bundle, they are really asking to help!
Of course, they’ll joke and say they’re happy to give baby right back when she gets fussy, but they really want to be needed.
So use them!
We’ve all heard the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and many cultures believe and practice this!
There is a Korean phrase uri ŏmma – that translates to “our mom,” which reflects a cultural norm where women parent beyond the bounds of a nuclear, biological family.
In this “tribe” culture, we call on many to help with child rearing. In some Latino cultures, moms have the opportunity for a time called a Cuarentena, approximately 40 days to rest, recover, and dedicate herself to bonding with the new little human.
American society does not support this type of postpartum care.
The kind where moms and newborns get to take advantage of the precious few months in the beginning that is so important for bonding and creating a secure attachment.
So if you have tribe elders or great aunt Susie asking how they can help, take them up on actual help. It’s ok to ask them to watch the other kids, wash the dishes, and cook a meal. Surrender any need for control and let the system work as it was intended.
Hopefully you can lie-in for as long as you need!
2. Wear Your Baby and Gain the Use of 2 Arms Again
One of the most natural things we can and want to do as new moms is hold hold hold.
And we don’t want to stop holding even if we have to!
But thanks to the many baby wearing products out there, you can strap that little one onto your body and plug right along!
That way they are right there with us, feeling our skin and our heartbeats while we fold clothes, go for a walk, and stir up an Old Fashioned!
Babies desire to be close to us as much as we want to be close to them.
Baby wearing simulates a womb-like environment and helps regulate baby’s internal systems and bring balance that is calm and soothing. Another benefit is how intimately involved she is in the wearer’s world.
They get to see, hear, and feel from the safe space of right against mom.
3. Go the *!$& to Sleep
We might utilize Samuel L. Jackson to lull our children at bedtime.
But I’m here to tell you moms to go to sleep! Seriously!
Newborns sleep because they are growing and developing. It’s imperative for their well being and cognition, including memory and executive function. And it is critical for yours, too.
The less stressed you are, the more responsive you will be to your baby’s cues and the more she will feel your calm. Rest. All of the chores you feel need to be done will get done at some point. Sleep.
All of the thank you notes will get written later. For now, enjoy the snuggles and sweet dreams!
4. Find Some YOU Time
What do you need to recharge your battery?
Sleeping, eating well, and exercising are some proven strategies.
But think outside the box. Sit in nature with your feet on the earth. Try meditation.
Read a book or listen to music that makes you feel calm, happy, or grateful. We are taught to push ourselves, ignore our physical and mental needs, and go go go until we are burned out.
When we are this chronically stressed, we cannot be present for our babies in the crucial ways they desire and deserve. When you are breathing deeply and feel taken care of, you are more present for your baby.
And they need to see, feel, and experience you!
5. Follow Your Gut & Listen to Your Body
Mother’s intuition. It’s real. It’s the small, but very powerful voice inside your heart that tells you what you need to know.
You know when you feel like your baby is about to cry, what her cries mean, when you think she might need you, when you feel perhaps inexplicably insync with them. This is a protective measure for bonding and safety.
As Dr. Kang of Psychology Today says, “You see, if you look back in history, humans, like all other animals, have solely relied on intuition and instinct in order to survive.”
Over time, with increased intelligence and ever evolving technology, we have lost touch with our instincts.
Reducing stress, getting quiet, going within, and getting back in touch with our bodies will help reconnect us to our knowing – our intuition.
You are a woman. You are a mother.
You are more powerful than you may know and gifting yourself time to bond, rest, and listen to your instincts is one of the most important things you can do for you and your child at any age.
They mirror you, so if you can model this kind of self-love, they will know just what to do when it’s their turn!
Let me know in the comments how you show love as a new mama!