Postpartum is no joke, my friends. It can be totally rough and overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect (side note: if you want the no-holds-barred version of what postpartum was really like, I wrote a post about it here). After the birth of my first child, I had a pretty miserable postpartum experience, and during my second pregnancy, I spent a good portion of it dreading those early weeks after my little one arrived. But, now that I’m seven weeks post-birth, I can definitely say that postpartum has been a much better experience this time around thanks to a few key things that I learned my “rookie year”. I wanted to share them in hopes that they might help you have a more enjoyable postpartum as well!
7 Things That Helped Me Survive Postpartum:
1. Accepting help
When I had my daughter, people were more than eager to offer their help, but as a first-time mom who wanted to do everything perfectly, I denied a lot of that help and added a ton of stress to my days in the process. This time around, when people offered help, I gladly accepted. I had friends and family who took my daughter to play so I could bond with the new baby, brought me groceries and meals, did my laundry, or even just dropped off coffee on my doorstep. Accepting the help of others was amazing, and I feel silly that I didn’t take people up on it more the first time!
2. Taking time for real food
Maybe one of the biggest changes I made during postpartum this time was in regard to what I ate. With my daughter I struggled to get quality nutrition and mostly subsisted on quick convenience foods like string cheese and granola bars to get me through the day. Because of this, I lacked energy and struggled with milk supply. I knew I wanted to do things differently this time, so three weeks postpartum, I committed to healthy eating and it made a huge difference in the way I felt. Postpartum is busy and getting a solid meal can be a challenge, but making the time to eat real foods (protein, fruits, veggies) instead of sugary processed options was so worth the effort. I felt much more clear-headed with nutritious foods to fuel my day.
3. Preparing as much as possible
With my first pregnancy, I never really experienced a “nesting” phase, but this time it struck with a vengeance and I took full advantage of it. I cleaned my house top to bottom, caught up on all the laundry, planned outfits for my daughter, bought disposable plates and cutlery to cut down on dishes during those early weeks, and scheduled blog posts ahead for the coming month. It was wonderful, because once my baby boy arrived, I was able to let go and enjoy him instead of worrying about a to-do list.
4. Making time to relax
Thanks to all that preparation, I was able to sit back and relax and soak up all the newborn goodness of my baby boy. Realizing that these early weeks with a new baby are fleeting, taking the time to enjoy them helped me to feel much better emotionally. I wasn’t frazzled or overwhelmed, and it was wonderful.
5. Have a game plan for nursing
I had no clue that breastfeeding could be so challenging, and I definitely got thrown into the fire and found myself unprepared. This time, I had a game plan for nursing and what I would do if I struggled again (i.e. lining up a lactation consultant, having bottles on hand, etc…). Knowing I had a game plan in place took a lot of stress off of me and I truly believe that my more relaxed attitude has contributed to the success I’ve had with nursing my new baby.
6. Lowering my expectations
I had so many expectations as a first-time mom of what a mom should look like, act like…what a mom should do. It was unrealistic and left me feeling like a failure. This time, I went into it expecting that it would be hard, that I would probably struggle, and that was OK. It was so freeing. And when it went better than expected, I was pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed.
7. Surround yourself with community
Sometimes you need more than a meal or a folded load of laundry. Sometimes you just need friends who you can text late at night when you’re feeling discouraged about new motherhood. Have a community of friends and family in place that you can lean on. It takes a village, and with that village you can navigate this journey of new motherhood together.
What things helped you most during postpartum?