Suddenly your life has changed in an incredible way and you’ve arrived home with the most powerful love laying in your arms. All you care about is his or her health, comfort and happiness. You dedicate every minute to caring for your baby, while also miraculously making time to manage your home, keep your pets alive, and fulfill other obligations.
But, what about fitting in time to take care of YOU? Have you prioritized YOUR own health, comfort, and happiness?
The first couple of weeks home were a bit rough for me. The stress and extreme exhaustion that accompanied being a new mom pushed me to tears. I forgot to eat regularly and I went a day or two too long without showering. Honestly, I didn’t really care about myself. I just wanted to focus on my little girl. I thought sacrificing my own health was part of the new job as Mama.
It wasn’t until one night when I literally slept walk (NOT holding baby!) directly into a wall (seriously, it happened – and I was walking REAL fast) when I realized something needed to change. There was no way I could continue functioning in that way. I was a defeated, exhausted, messy, zombie of a human. In order for me to be the best mother to my daughter, I needed to be the healthiest version of myself and that meant committing to change. I made changes that led me to gain control of my health and feel more comfortable in my new mama role.
As you prepare to dive into your own journey of motherhood, let me share some tips that will help you feel great alongside your little one.
1 // Stock Up
The last thing you want to do after returning home is stress about what you need but don’t have. You will want to plop your toosh on the couch with your baby and just be. So plan ahead. Stock up your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom with items that will make your physical, mental and emotional transition a smoother one…
((P.S. Get in the habit of putting them right back on after nursing, otherwise, you’ll have a grand ole’ time explaining what they are when your father-in-law finds them laying on the couch… awkward…))
2 // Own Your First Night Home
A piece of advice I was given before birth was to come home from the hospital to an empty house and enjoy my first night alone with my husband, our baby, and the pups. Best. Advice. Ever. Because the truth: I was a hot mess. Although I was feeling all the happy feels with my little one, I was also feeling a whole lot of not-so-pleasant physical feels that left me a bit overwhelmed. I needed space and the ability to focus solely on resting, implementing the infantcare I was taught at the hospital, introducing the pups to their new sister, and adjusting to my new normal. That first night home will set a tone for the weeks ahead. Let it be as peaceful as possible.
3 // Practice Personal Space
The baby sharing battle can get really real, real fast with all of your excited family members and friends. Although you too are feeling so much joy in showing off your greatest little lovebug, you might also experience feelings of wanting to kick everyone out and lock all your doors. It’s okay to feel this way. In fact, those feelings are entirely normal and it’s more than fine to act on them. When you feel overwhelmed and need to seek some alone time away from the chaos that might be taking place in your living room, allow yourself to escape with your baby. Take all the time you need to relax, decompress and feel more comfortable. Necessary breaks from the crowd will help you keep your cool while feeling more comfortable and in control.
4 // Track YOUR Health
Life after birth is filled with nonstop counting and analyzing. Tallying your baby’s food intake, doo-doo output, time asleep or awake… sitting in complete silence watching his or her chest go up and down, constantly checking your baby’s temperature, measuring the shape of their head… it doesn’t stop.
And it shouldn’t stop at your baby’s health. One of the most impactful decisions I made was purchasing a health tracker. I chose to go with the Fitbit Alta because I really like it’s simple and sleek style along with its easy-to-use phone app. I started wearing it the second week home and it opened my eyes to how much sleep I was NOT getting and how much food I was not eating. I made sure to check the collected health stats every morning, afternoon and night so that I could prioritize a nap or meal that would keep me on track. Now that I’ve healed, I can also use my Fitbit for exercise tracking!
5 // Prioritize Your Nutrition
6 // Lighten Your World
I mean this literally and figuratively. When you are not trying to catch up on shut-eye, lift your curtains and embrace that natural light. Being cooped up inside for weeks, or months, caring for your newborn can leave you going a bit stir-crazy. Let the sunshine in.
Also, color your world with uplifting, empowering influences. You might be tempted to read a whole lot of parenting books or follow along with mama blogs. Choose wisely. I’ve found that some books can really freak you out and make you feel like you aren’t doing a great job in your new mama role. I prefer to read what will leave me feeling positive vibes and fully inspired. Here are the books on my nightstand…
7 // Accept Help
The saying “it takes a village” is for real. When you feel comfortable and ready, accept help. This was especially difficult for me. I’m normally pretty comfortable handling everything on my own. I’ve learned this is not the route to take in parenthood. Accepting help from family and friends has allowed me to not only get a break here and there for my own self-care, but it has also pushed me to learn from others. By letting my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends lend a helping hand, I’ve been able to pick up new ways of accomplishing tasks and that acquired knowledge has helped me feel more confident as a new mom!
8 // Exercise
When cleared by the doctor and feeling ready, start introducing exercise back into your day. Something as simple as keeping weights beside your bed or scheduling a 15-20 minute walk will help your body and mind!
**Note: If you are experiencing very negative thoughts, feelings of extreme sadness and anxiety, reach out to your doctor. These may be signs of postpartum depression.**