After recently having my second baby, I’ve been so fortunate to experience the postpartum life times two. So I’m basically an expert now, right? Luckily, I had very similar births, so the recovery wasn’t too much different. Somehow my body knew exactly what to do the second time around. But as much as postpartum recovery is a physical journey, it’s largely a mental one too. And having a tiny human around is such a big adjustment. There are so many added stressors that can affect your body and mind. And it’s so important to take care of yourself in every way so that you can take care of your baby properly.
I think those last several weeks of pregnancy, when you wake 2 to 3 times a night to use the bathroom, really gear you up for what’s to come. I remember not feeling totally drained when I didn’t get a straight night of sleep in that last stretch of pregnancy, like it was just a habit now. And immediately after the birth of your little one, poof…you’re body has already practiced those middle of the night wakings and is good to go. It’s incredible how much energy a mother’s body can provide when they have to. Or the way our body’s quickly adjusts to meeting the needs of our babies. At least for a little while… but all good things come to an end, right?
With both of my postpartum journeys, I hit a rough road around 4 months. A few good months into sleep deprivation and resuming life’s normal activities of running around, except now with a tiny human in tow can really catch up with you. That’s about the time when my mental and physical exhaustion hit. It’s like a snowball effect and you just cannot catch up with the much needed energy, or simply a break! So as you prepare for your new baby’s arrival or maybe you are already in the thick of it… I hope this can help.
The excitement and adrenaline of having a baby is like none other. But unfortunately it will run out and the chores or tasks multiply. Don’t overdo it the first couple weeks, your body really does need to heal. Find it in yourself to put the laundry basket down and take the nap. I recently had someone tell me “chores were meant for tomorrow”. I love that. And now I live by it. I will absolutely do what my body and mind are telling me to do before feeling like I MUST get all the housework done. Some days will be more productive than others and that’s ok. But make it a point to put your mental and physical health first.
Ask for Help
You can’t do it all. We are superheroes, being moms and all, but we simply can’t do everything. We’d like to, I know. It’d be nice to have more arms to juggle more tasks, or a few more hours a day to get it all done. But nope, it’s not possible. Ask someone else to do the laundry or wash the dishes and those super fun pump parts. Ugh, I despise washing all the pump parts. Take the offers for a cooked meal or take out. You’re friends and family will be more than willing. I really encourage being part of a mom’s club too. They are so helpful and generous, we all do our share in meal trains for new parents and it's seriously such a good help. And if you’re feeling down, anxious, or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. It is very common for mothers to experience postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.
I learned from the first time around to say “no” more for the second baby’s arrival. Everyone and their aunt cannot wait to meet your new baby. I get it, it is super exciting for everyone. With our first baby, family or friends were visiting day after day, I couldn’t catch a break. I was also super uncomfortable having to sit on the wooden bench while everyone crowded around, holding our baby on the soft couch. I really didn’t want to go through that again. Also, this is one of the most special times in your life too. So you should be able to enjoy it the way you want. Sometimes meeting everyone else’s needs and requests to visit make that really hard. I know it sounds a bit selfish or can make you feel guilty, but you have to take care of you and baby first. So if you can, limit your visitors and try to schedule them later on. Your body and baby will thank you. Before our second baby, I already planned on limiting visitors. When friends asked if they could visit the baby after arrival, I told them they would be most helpful coming to play with my toddler. I truly felt that would be most beneficial… giving her attention she probably would need and allowing me to focus on my newborn. You call the shots, Mama.
Eat & drink
Be sure to be eating and drinking a lot! Your body just went through a huge change and needs plenty of fluids and calories during this transition. It’s easy to grab quick snacks as your hands are always full now, but try to keep healthy foods stocked up too. Fresh fruits and veggies are easy enough with minimal prep. Your body needs those essential vitamins and minerals to recover and help maintain energy levels. Hydration is so important in breastfeeding mothers. Make it a point to continuously drink water throughout the day.
Give yourself grace
Be gentle with yourself. It’s a rough stage when you’re in it, but it is the shortest stage of their life. Lift yourself up on all the little triumphs each day. Say the kind of things you would say to your bestie when she is enduring this postpartum journey. Be kind to yourself and your body. Easier said than done, I know. I’ve been through it. You, too, are an amazing mother. Your baby loves you. Embrace the snuggles, because you need it just as much as baby does, maybe more.
Looking back, it flies by. I mean really, it goes by so so fast. I would give anything to have my newborn babies for another day. That newborn smell, that tiny little human melting into you after a full feeding. I find myself wishing away my baby’s night feeding and wanting it to never end all in the same moment. It’s exhausting, but it is precious alone time that I get with him, with no other distractions. The postpartum journey does not last forever, it’s rather quick in hindsight. Hang in there, Mama.