Birth. It’s gross, messy, exciting, painful, crazy, and beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. And then there’s the postpartum period. More grossness (if you think it ends with the birth, you’re in for a surprise), more pain (again, doesn’t end with the birth), sometimes crazy (hello hormones), and often beautiful (hello baby!)
I had a really rough post-partum period with Jay, partially due to a heavy case of post-partum baby blues, partially due to a very colicky baby. I lived in my pajamas, I binge-ate Oreos (breastfeeding hunger is a beast!), and there were so many days I remember asking myself “Deodorant or brushing my teeth? Because only one of them is happening today”. Oh, and showers? They literally felt like going on vacation (both in rarity and wonderfulness).
I knew with Elle that I wanted to do things differently. There’s only so much you can do to combat the postpartum hormones, but I wanted to intentionally do things that would make me feel normal…to feel good. So I made a plan.
1.) HAVE A GOOD BIRTH
Ok, this isn’t exactly postpartum, nor is it something you can entirely control, but I fully believe that one of the biggest reasons I had such a great postpartum period with Elle was because I had a wonderful birth experience. While you can’t ever predict how your birth will go, there are certainly steps you can take to increase your chances of a positive birth experience — read every book you can, hire a doula, find a health care provider that respects you and shares your birth vision….DO WHATEVER YOU CAN, because a good birth really does make a difference.
2.) TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This means flossing, showering, deodorant, makeup, etc., even if it means waking up earlier or going to bed later. Yes, sleep is a prized commodity when you have a newborn, but it has made so much difference in how I feel about myself. Besides, you’re more likely to smile if you’re not concerned about the fuzz on your teeth.
3.) GET OUT OF YOUR PAJAMAS…SERIOUSLY
When you spend most of the day at home with a toddler and a newborn (usually with a few breast milk stains and a faint aroma of spit-up), it’s hard to find the motivation to get out of pjs. But for me, it goes a long way in helping me feel normal…because normal people don’t hang out in their pajamas all day! At least not every day. Sure, my daily wardrobe mostly consists of yoga pants and a nursing-friendly shirt, but hey…I didn’t sleep in them!
4.) GO ON WALKS
Strap the baby to your chest, buckle in the toddler, and go! Sunshine, fresh air, and a shot of exercise endorphins are incredible mood boosters. As a bonus, you might run into a neighbor and have a conversation with someone without using the words (potty, blankie, or shhhhhh!)
5.) HAND THE KIDS OVER
If your situation allows, hand the kids over to daddy when he gets home…after all, he should enjoy the fruits of his labor (or your labor?) too. Take some time to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it…even if that means putting off mopping the floor or folding the laundry. A rejuvenated mom is a better mom, even with a dirty floor.
What did you do to help yourself feel “normal” postpartum?