10 Tips for a Better Postpartum: Tip #6
This post is part of the series, 10 Tips for a Better Postpartum. This is Tip #6 in a list of 10 things you can do in pregnancy to set yourself up for a more comfortable, peaceful, and enjoyable postpartum journey. Check back in the coming weeks as I share the next tips in the series!
Tip #6: Manage Expectations for Yourself
I vividly remember taking our first baby to her routine checkup at the newborn assessment clinic. She was 4 days old. (The ridiculousness of asking newly postpartum women to haul their babies back to the hospital at just 4 days old is another blog topic for another day…)
It was so strange to feel like leaving the house was such an insurmountable task! Here I was, newly postpartum – my body still very much recovering and adjusting from having grown a whole other human being, having birthed that human being, and now providing nourishment for that human being. On very little sleep and in a mental and emotional state of newborn overwhelm – it was A LOT.
Everything was new: diaper changes, postpartum bleeding, figuring out how to dress her, figuring out how to dress me! Engorgement and sore nipples and had she eaten recently enough? What if she got hungry in the car? Was I dressed in a way I would be comfortable nursing in public for the first time? Wait…had I eaten yet today? Packing the diaper bag, carefully buckling her in the carseat – was she warm enough? She hated stopping at red lights – how could I comfort her in her carseat? Hearing her cries caused me actual physical pain in addition to the emotional discomfort. We arrived, parked, and hauled everything into the hospital and towards the clinic – wait, where was the newborn assessment clinic again?
We successfully made the trip in, completed the appointment, and made it back home. It felt like a strange victory – We had done it! But something as simple as a trip to an appointment had become oddly difficult.
In the early days of postpartum, life is weird (and wonderful, but also weird). It is a time of transition from the old ways of life to the new. Rest assured, at some point “normal” will return, and with it will come familiar ways of life now adjusted to fit your new family. But in those early days, mama, please give yourself all the grace.
And as you prepare for postpartum, prepare yourself for the weird by managing expectations of yourself. You may not have a spotless house. That is OK. You may not always arrive on time. That is OK. You may not prepare a healthy, homecooked meal each night. That is OK. Your older children may watch a little more TV than usual. That is OK. You may not yet be ready for visitors. That is OK. You may not change out of your favorite sweatpants. That is OK. You may find it strangely difficult to do things that were once easy. That is OK too.
Start thinking about ways that others can help you with the things that you need to set aside during your early postpartum days and weeks. Start thinking about your support system – other people you can talk with about your experiences and be met with support and understanding. Perhaps those mamas from your birth class or prenatal yoga series?
And when you feel discouraged about the things you are not yet able to accomplish on your own, try to remind yourself of the AMAZING things you have accomplished in growing and birthing that beautiful little human, and the things you are continuing to accomplish in your healing, in your transition, and in your loving on that beautiful little human. Those are the most important things, and things that you and you alone can do.