Lost in a whirlwind of emotion and riding the tidal wave of hormones, a postpartum mom will find herself questioning her sanity. There is nothing "wrong" with you.
When a recent client reached out, I felt like it was time to address a few postpartum tips. Her bravery in sending me a quick text was a huge step for new moms. Just asking for help is hard enough in our "get back to it" society. She cast her net into the waters hoping to find an answer. Here is hoping that some of these suggestions will help a mom realize she isn't alone and that sometimes something so simple can make all the difference in the world.
Reel in some hope with the following tips.
Introduce yourself to the new you...
1. Mom's groups
These help SSSOOOOO much! Connect with other mom's that are going through the same thing. Take advantage of what you can. There may be one lead by a local doula, held at birth center/hospital, organized by a church...but, I bet there is one near you.
2. Postpartum support at home
There are a number of Postpartum doulas that specialize in coming into the home and helping you. Sometimes that is food prep, laundry, dishes, breastfeeding support, talking about how you feel that day. Sometimes it is someone to hold you while you cry. It can look a number of different ways and it all depends on what you need. Those needs may change every day. They may care for the house and/or baby while you get some sanity sleep. They may run errands. They may be just what you need.
It may be one meeting, or monthly. It could be sessions with just you and it could be sessions with all of you. Partners sometimes need to go too so that they can learn how to help you better. And, sometimes you just need an unbiased ear. They can help you navigate it all. Learn how to speak up for what you need...and encourage you to do so.
4. Take time for yourself
You can be a much better care-giver if you are cared for. It might be a trip to the store by yourself. It could be a hair or nail appointment, massage, coffee shop date between you and a good cup of coffee/book. You have to have time by yourself just to feel human and not like "just a mom". It is perfectly acceptable, and necessary, to have 1 hour to yourself every day. Yes, every day!
5. Self care
Sleep is key. Your anxiety is probably triggering insomnia. The new mom, "OMG, is the baby breathing?" racing thoughts that rush in just as you drift off. Magnesium, and a whole host of vitamins/minerals, is a huge help here. Make sure to stay on your prenatal vitamins the entire time you are nursing. Get plenty of water. Are you eating? A lot of moms will go all day and then realize they haven't eaten. (I am guilty as well and I am 7+ years postpartum!) Have a self-care date with a Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Homeopath, your care provider or trusted guru to guide this journey.
6. Take it slow
Our culture makes us feel, or even self-pressure, like we should be able to jump back into the way things were...plus baby. It is okay to slow down. I give you permission to not get the house clean. To not do your hair and to live in yoga pants. You are learning how to transition into this time of your life...it is a big shift and you are allowed to take baby steps.
I see so many new mothers rush back to the gym or start a cleanse...whoa! It is sometimes necessary to put those training wheels back on and slowly introduce yourself to the new you. Don't worry, she is pretty cool!
7. Less can be more
Sometimes instead of all the hustle and bustle to make it to yoga, mom's group, remember all the herbs to take, breaths to take, classes to take, etc...just stop. And, sit in the floor and stare at this beautiful human you made. Cry. Laugh. Anything you need. Put your calendar and to-do list away...and learn to listen to your heart. Sometimes "Mother's Intuition" is starting to speak to you and we have to learn to listen to her. She whispers and we have to be still and quiet to hear her wisdom.
8. Get outside
A walk around your block. Sitting in the sunshine on your back porch. 10-minute earthing session with bare feet in the grass. The Great Outdoors is just that! It grounds us and helps us feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Dip your toes in the waters that heal you.
9. Ask for help
This is a huge step for any new mom! Reaching out now is perfect...but you may feel like you should have reached out weeks ago. I want you to know it is okay to ask for help. Ask for it every day if you need to! Ask it of your partner, doula, parents, care provider, random person at the grocery store...everyone wants to help. And, if you don't know what to ask for...then sometimes just having someone be there is all you need. A really great friend doesn't need you to entertain them. Presence is a present sometimes.
10. Stop with the screens
It is so hard. We are enveloped by our screens. The web. It sucks us in and makes us feel like we have a million answers that we are missing out on if we aren't constantly on a device. But, it becomes a vice. Your TV counts in this. Your computer. Your phone. Wouldn't you rather hold your baby? Hold a book? Hold on to the hope that after your next nap, it will get better? The answers will come, but they probably aren't on Pinterest or Facebook. Relaxing on the sofa while binge watching a show won't bring you the same relief as drifting through the pages of a book.
If you are floundering, refer to the above options and stay away from Dr. Google.
Getting back to basics can help us find ourselves. When we listen to our intuition, we find the answers.
Asking for help is fishing off the pier with a big fat juicy worm. It is hard to put the worm on the hook and send it out, bobbing in the waters and waiting for a bite. We see that worm as a problem we "should be able to handle" instead of a way to feed the universe and connect with another being that wants to help us. We may take what the fish gives us and send it back out to help another. Or, the fish may be something more permanent that feeds our souls more deeply, gives us a connection.
Find your fishing rod and cast your problems into the waters...something is gonna bite!