Motherhood is one of the most beautiful gifts in the world. The joy of growing another human being for nine months and then actually getting to meet and live life with that person you co-created is unlike anything else in the world. It’s also hard — super hard. Particularly in those first few months when you’re just getting your bearings, motherhood may feel much more like a daunting chore than a “miracle.” Don’t fret if you feel this way. Other women have gone before you, and they can relate.
While it’s important to give yourself the space to feel however you feel after birth, it’s also important to perform as much self-care as possible so as to avoid any unnecessary stress. After all, there will be plenty of necessary stress to be had in these first weeks and months. So as you adjust to the presence of a tiny life in your home, keep these tips in mind to help ease the transition.
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Just Say “Yes” to Help
Maybe you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to accept help. Perhaps it’s hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable in that way, or maybe you just don’t want to put anyone out. Hear this clearly: it’s okay to accept help, especially as a new mom. There’s a reason the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is still a saying. Don’t turn down any genuine offers of help from your significant other, your family or your fellow mom friends. Just because the baby comes first doesn’t mean that you have to come last.
Get Back Into a Healthy Eating Groove
By the time your due date rolled around, you might’ve thrown caution to the wind when it came to your diet. This is totally normal — you certainly weren’t the first woman to give in to her pregnancy cravings! But now that your little bundle of joy is here, there’s no need to eat for two, although your doctor might suggest increased calories if you’re breastfeeding. Either way, return to eating a wide range of foods with an emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains. It’ll help both mind and body.
Get on Your Sneakers — Even If That’s All You Can Do
No one expects you to skip out of your delivery suite and head straight for a yoga class, but depending on the course of your labor, exercise can help your postpartum recovery. Even the simple act of slipping on your sneakers and going for a slow walk around the block with baby snuggled up against your chest might help you to feel more like yourself, even if it’s not doing much for your waistline. Of course, heed your doctor’s orders and wait until she or he gives you the go-ahead to get back into a typical routine.
Don’t Let House Guests to Overstay Their Welcome
Chances are you aren’t going to be the only person in love with your new little one. Family and friends from all over will flock to your home to pinch those chubby pink cheeks. This isn’t a bad thing — it just means your newborn will eventually blossom into a child who’s widely loved. But as an exhausted new mommy, feel entitled to say no to a visit or ask guests to head home when you and baby really need to nap. Other moms out there will understand without offense.
Sleep, Then Sleep Some More
Those mom-centric clichés that everyone’s been spouting at you for months may be annoying, but they all come from somewhere. Included in this category: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” New moms inevitably have to run off of adrenaline to a certain extent, but don’t be a hero about it. When your little one goes down for a nap, leave the house in shambles and take a nap yourself. A baby won’t judge you for a stack of dirty dishes in the sink anyway.
Trust Yourself Completely
As you’ve probably already realized over the course of your pregnancy, everyone has an opinion about everything. And, chances are, they’re going to share that opinion with you, whether it’s appropriate or not. When it comes to subjects like breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding and sleep training versus co-sleeping, no one’s opinion matters except for yours and your significant other’s. Learn to listen to your mom instincts when they kick in and ignore haters — even if the “haters” are your closest confidantes.
Embrace the New Normal
Although the hustle and bustle of newborn mom life will eventually die down, life itself is never going to go back to normal, or at least not the normal you knew before. When you become a parent, your entire outlook shifts — as it should! Let yourself slowly adjust to this new normal and don’t feel guilty for mourning aspects of your pre-mom life, like being able to sip a glass of wine in peace on the couch. You can still love your newborn without snapping immediately into Super Mom mode after giving birth.
Meet Other Moms (Or Anyone Who Can Hold Their Own Head Up)
If you’re staying home with your little one for a few months after he or she is born, you’re probably going to be tempted to stay in. After all, a simple trip to Target becomes much more complicated when you have to strap a wiggly human into a car seat first. But it’s important to get out so that you don’t become isolated. Consider joining some type of group for moms of newborns or just planning a night out with some close friends.
Now that you’ve embarked on this beautiful journey of motherhood, nothing will ever be quite the same. Don’t let the stresses of parenting a newborn overshadow the joy of becoming a mother for the first time. Take care of yourself while you take care of your new bundle of joy, and you’ll both be healthy and happy.