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Once the excitement (and exhaustion) of birth has settled and you’ve landed back at home with your new bundle of joy, it’s amazing to notice how quickly our priorities shift. While we used to be concerned with having the right newborn clothing, setting up the changing table, and putting together the stroller, we’re now intimately concerned with the real life details of this brand new being in our care.
How much sleep are they getting? Are they getting the right nutrients? Are they gaining the right amount of weight, listening to the right music, and having the right number of bowel movements per day?
Our days can quickly and easily become so consumed by every detail of our newborn baby’s life, that we can swiftly lose ourselves in a matter of minutes.
But the truth is that, when we neglect self-care, everything (and everyone) else around us also suffers. While many of us grew up learning that the more we sacrifice, the bigger our reward – in this experience, this way of thinking can actually be quite counterproductive. When we remember to take care of ourselves in a loving, kind way, we are better able to focus, better able to de-stress, and better able to care for this tiny conduit of love.
Life with a newborn can be hectic, exhausting, overwhelming and HARD. But incorporating a few important tips for caring for yourself can go a long way in keeping your energy levels up, your stress levels in check, and your mood optimized.
Sleeping patterns for new moms vary dramatically. Some moms and dads prefer to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Others prefer to take a couple short naps throughout the day whenever they can get a second away. Whatever works for you is completely okay, as long as you are getting enough sleep.
Figure out what works best for you and baby and schedule that time into each day. The specific timing may vary slightly as your schedule adjusts to a new norm, but a schedule will help you to feel comfortable going to bed at 8pm, or waking up past 10am… whatever you need to get enough sleep.
Having this time allotted just for you will make sure that you feel well-rested and rejuvenated to take care of you and your newborn.
While I do recommend spending the first 40 days post-birth at home with minimal external excursions, it is important to at least get out of the house for a walk at least once each day. Whether this is a walk around the neighborhood, or a walk to a nearby park or trail, just get outside in the sunlight and fresh air every day. Both you and baby need it! The fresh air and socialization will be good for your soul and can help you feel like yourself at a time when being in your own skin can feel really foreign.
Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead to start exercising post-pregnancy, incorporate some movement into your daily life ASAP. Go on a walk with your baby or do some light stretching and yoga to a YouTube video in your living room. Don’t do anything too intense or strenuous, save that energy for yourself and baby, just start to get some movement in your body and allow those endorphins to start pumping again.
Make sure to be kind with yourself. Working out post-pregnancy is not just about getting your pre-baby body back. Exercise is about giving you the energy you need to be a strong, loving mother. It’s about getting back in your body and rediscovering a new way of existing inside of yourself.
I don’t mean getting dressed in a gown in preparation for a gala. (Unless that’s your thing. In which case, go for it!) But I do mean take a shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and aim to get dressed in something other than your pajamas.
This can feel incredibly difficult, especially with the likely unprecedented sleeping hours you’ll be experiencing with a newborn baby. But your mood and sense of confidence are worth the little bit of extra effort it takes to get dressed and create distinction from one day to the next.
Making meals. Doing the laundry. Cleaning the house. Typing an email. Paying the bills. Going to the grocery store. These tasks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the things that may become more difficult with a newborn.
Be comfortable knowing that you have a whole army of people behind you that want you to succeed! Do not hesitate to ask your +1 to watch your new baby so that you can go get your hair cut. Or to ask a kind neighbor to watch your baby so that you and your husband can enjoy a quiet dinner together once a month. Or to ask visitors that want to come see your newest addition to your family to bring food. Or for your best friend to come over and help with the laundry or to take your new baby for an afternoon so you can get some rest. Bottom line – ask for what you need. People are always willing to help, you just have to ask!
Taking time for yourself, your home, or your relationship will pay dividends and will help to ensure that your child is being raised in a peaceful, happy home (even if it’s sometimes filled with loving chaos 🙂 ).
Whether you have a strong family or community nearby, you’ll likely find that connecting with other new moms is incredibly valuable. In this group of mothers, you can find support, encouragement, knowledge, and a strong sense of community with other women in a similar season of life.
If you don’t know many new mothers in your area, there are several resources available that can help you to connect with others. Try a postnatal exercise class and ask the other attendees if you can join their mommy group. Get referrals from your doctor or midwife, hospital, community center, or place of worship, as they might have organized groups available that you can join. And don’t forget to bring your childless friends into your group as honorary aunts and uncles – most will be honored to be a significant part of your child’s life growing up.
Whatever you do, don’t take it all too seriously. Take a moment to step back and see all the pieces of your day-to-day life that are just downright funny. Whether you’re laughing at yourself, something that actually happens to you across the day, or at something completely independent of your current situation, finding time to laugh will help you to enjoy and relax about this season of your new family’s life.
Life with a newborn goes quickly, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Don’t miss it by trying to get every second “perfect.” Enjoy and appreciate this time and honor it every day. The moments go so fast …
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