There are no two ways about it, after having a baby you change, not just physically through the process of being pregnant and after, but emotionally. Most of the changes that happen are beautiful. You’ve created a human being, a new person who you love in a way you can’t ever put into words. However most new mothers will tell you some of the changes you go through are challenging. You go from just thinking about yourself and what you need to do that day, at work, in your social life, to always putting a little tiny person before yourself. And being a mother, loving your little offspring you are so happy to do this. But there are days when your are exhausted, if you’re nursing and/or pumping it’s even harder as you feel both the pressure to provide the best for your baby by being physically at their beck and call as they are hungry around the clock and you need to constantly be providing them with their food.
Of course, it’s a privilege to be a mother and I think most parents will attest to the fact that once you become a mother or father your world takes on a whole new meaning. Things that mattered before no longer do, and things that you never thought you’d be thinking about might well keep you up at night. Did I play with my baby enough today? Should I have done more tummy time? (wait I didn’t get chance to do any today, will this effect their development..?!) We, as mothers are just so hard on ourselves.
So here is an article that is keeping it real, laying out some thing that you might well feel after having a baby, and to say it’s ok to feel those things. Lean into it, allow yourself to cry on the days you might need to because you are exhausted. To embrace the mum guilt you are feeling, because it just means you care so, so much, and then remind yourself that you are doing an amazing job.
Below is also a list of some of the things that might help in the early days to make you feel a little bit more like your old self and to remember it’s ok, in fact it's necessary to take care of yourself and your baby. After all, if you aren’t ok, your baby certainly won’t be. Taking care of yourself, is taking care of them. Mother’s truly are the heart of the family, and if you stop working, your whole family won’t function. Everyone has a different lifestyle and these won’t work for everyone but here are some tips that I’d like to offer up incase any might be of help to you, even if you don’t have any family or friends around that can help you look after your new little bundle.
RIGHT AFTER HAVING THE BABY
Straight after you’ve had your baby take the time, as much as possible to just rest. It sounds laughable when people tell you this but it is important to try to when you can. When the baby naps, don’t feel like you have to do the housework or check the things on your to-do list, take the opportunity to sleep. It’s easier said than done as just because your baby is sleeping and you’re exhausted, you might feel bad about not doing the things you feel you need to do. However you have just given birth to a human being so lay down, even if you can’t sleep, put on an episode of something that will relax you or make you smile and don’t feel guilty about it!
SHARE THE FEEDS
This might not work for everyone, depending on your partners availability, work schedule etc. and your baby’s willingness to take a bottle and still nurse but if they are happy to do both then try and share the feeds. Have your partner do the night feeds or at least one of the feeds after you’ve gone to bed, and then you can do the second feed of the night. This way you can at least get a chunk of sleep so you’re not up every couple of hours. Another option, if your partner is taking more time off, then he can he do all the night feeds, while you get up and pump once in the night, it actually enables you to get some sleep, getting up less at night and makes switching your mind off a little easier as you aren’t waiting for the cry of your baby to wake up. Then your partner can get some rest during the day whilst you look after the baby, but at least this way, you're not both exhausted.
Alternatively, you can pump during the day if you are able to produce enough milk, put the milk in the fridge and then take some naps during the day and allow your partner, friend or family member to feed the baby so you can get some sleep. Or if you are using formula have them make your baby up the bottles when they are hungry. Getting just an hour of shut eye makes all the difference and will make you feel human again.
Anyone who has pumped, will know how alienating the process can feel. Having to sit in a room with the door closed whilst you are half undressed for a good 30 minutes several times a day is definitely not the easiest for anyone, let alone a brand new mother. However there is some amazing news for mothers who are looking to pump and be able to feel like you can do it on the move, in a cafe, or sitting with family for dinner, or get on with things around the house whilst you do so. The answer is The Willow Pump. It really is revolutionising the pumping process. It’s handsfree, allows you to move around the house, lay on the couch (in any position) and not have to stop your day whilst you pump. The Willow pump is completely handsfree, has a unique bag that fits inside the pump and enables you to refrigerate or freeze the milk without having to transfer the milk to another container, which also makes it great for travel. It really is a game changer for women wanting to pump and have it fit into your life instead of having to stop yours in order to pump. For more information on the Willow Pump click here.
ALLOW YOURSELF A MOMENT TO SHOWER!
Say what? Reading this before kids, you will think it's the most obvious statement in the world, of course you have to shower! However after having a baby, you'll soon find out it’s so easy to feel like you can’t take a few minutes out of your day to yep, even take that shower. You might look at the clock and see it’s 4pm and you literally feel all you have done all day is feed your baby and you may not have even eaten yourself yet, let alone had a shower. However it is so important to take a moment to take that shower and grab something to eat. As a first time mother it’s really easy to be so afraid every time your baby cries. However it’s important to ensure you take some time for yourself and this includes jumping in the shower! If your baby cries when you’re in there, it’s ok! Make sure you’ve fed them before you go in, obviously they’ll be in a safe place and you’re just taking a few minutes to shower!
LEAVE THE HOUSE FEELING LIKE YOU!
It’s really easy to feel like you’ve lost a sense of yourself when you have a baby and feel frazzled before you leave the house but just like taking a shower, it’s ok to take a moment to get yourself ready before you leave the house. Put that mascara on before you go out if that makes you feel like yourself. It’s really important to remember that yes you are a mother now, but you didn’t disappear over night after having a baby and you still deserve to feel like the old you! If your baby doesn’t want to be put down before you go out and keeps crying and you need to get ready, put them in a baby carrier to free your hands up or a rocking seat that you can bring into the bathroom with you while you get ready. That way you can then do your makeup etc and still have them close to you.
WHAT TO WEAR?!
It took you ten months to grow your baby, so remember to go easy on yourself after you’ve had your baby. It’s also really important to remember you shouldn’t diet after you've given birth. You need to nourish yourself (and if nursing / pumping, need to eat a certain amount of calories to keep your milk supply up). But if none of your old clothes fit and you don’t want to wear your old pregnancy pieces, buy a new pair of jeans or trousers that fit you now, or better yet, a good pair that are elasticated (believe it or not there are some great stylish ones out there that look great and will work with your changing size) as they will still fit as you get back to your pre-baby weight.
You’re likely going to be spending a lot more time at home for the next few months. One way to make yourself feel a little better during this time is to buy a few new pieces that are comfortable but make you feel a little bit better when you are at home. A few pairs of soft comfortable pants, a kaftan, etc can make a huge difference. Even if it’s a nice pair of PJ’s! There are some great ones on Amazon that are both comfortable and work well for nursing as well!
GET A MASSAGE!
Take an hour or so to go and get a massage. Having some time to relax will make all the difference. If you want to go out together with your partner as a couple and both want to get a massage but don’t have a babysitter or family nearby to help you can still do it and take your baby with you! You just have to find a massage place with a casual restaurant nearby. Bring a book with you, order some food and enjoy a few hours out of the house whilst your partner gets a massage (or you first!). Then switch off, as they come back you go for one (or vice versa) and then you can join them at the end and get a glass of wine together! When your baby is just a few months old, they’re easy to take to a restaurant in a car seat and sit at a booth quite easily. This way you have a few hours out together, both get some relax time in and a little date night to end it.
It can feel really hard when you first have a baby to find any time together with your partner. You’re adjusting to this new lifestyle and are both struggling with a lack of sleep. However make sure you take time to have a date night. Again, this is still possible to do, even if you don’t have a sitter or family. Just bring your baby out with you. It can feel scary doing this in the beginning but if you choose a place that is dimly lit you can take your baby in the car seat with you and enjoy a meal out together. It will give you some much needed downtime together. If you don’t feel comfortable going out just yet with the baby, then have a date night at home together. Order some food in and sit down and take that time to connect together.
TAKE SOME TIME FOR YOU
And most importantly be kind to yourself. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, guilty for things that you shouldn’t. Remember to be good to yourself, talk about how you’re feeling and remember you are doing a fantastic job.
SHOP THE PIECES!
MOBILE BABY SEATS
A mobile baby seat is great for taking your baby around the house with you, use it in the bathroom whilst you shower and get ready and around the rest of the house. Mobile seats require supervision of the baby at all times.