“I can’t believe my son is turning two next week and I’m doing this again,” a new mom said to me last week during a session. She is is due to deliver baby number two and we have been discussing possibilities for a quicker recovery this time. “It’s all a blur now, but I’ll tell you what, Stefanie, I was not prepared for the ways that I would need to save some of my energy for myself. I was so focused on Max that I almost put myself back in the hospital because I pushed myself so hard to be the perfect mom.” She is telling the story of almost every new mom with whom I have worked. So much of pre-baby preparations are geared toward the nursery and the delivery. But there is more to consider once you get home with your new bundle of joy-you. See if any of these tips might help you while you are up during another midnight feeding:
Whether you are nursing or not, you will need nutritious food to help you body recover from childbirth. Stay present to your body when you are eating. Listen to hunger and satiety cues. Pay attention to when it’s time to eat and when to stop. Drink lots of water. Rest when you are tired. It’s true, you will need sleep more than you ever imagined. Let others help you with the baby in any way that feels right to you. Physical self-care also means gradually beginning to exercise when you get the ok to resume. Even just light stretching on the floor with your newborn by your side is a perfect way to start to feel your body as your own again.
Stay in touch with people who support you. Talk to a friend who understands what you are going through as you try to get ground under your feet. Ask for help finding a therapist when you need someone to listen more objectively. It also helps your well-being to laugh. Watch a funny movie that has nothing to do with your present circumstances.
Find a quiet spot at home to recenter while the baby is napping or when someone is there to help. Introduce yourself to meditation (many YouTube videos are out there-one of my favorites is on Yoga Nidra-all you have to do is lie down, close your eyes and let yourself follow the voice) or start a journal about what is happening to you right now. Self-reflection is powerful form of prayer and inner connection that can help you feel calmer and more centered during challenging times or anytime at all. Above all, forgive yourself for anything that isn’t turning out the way you planned. Life has a way of throwing new parents the unexpected. So much of what happens will be easier to manage if you just remember that you get a fresh start to begin again tomorrow. You can do this, Momma.
Let me know if I can help.
Stefanie C. Barthmare M.Ed., LPC
Houston, TX 77005