How Are YOU Doing New Mama?

March 8, 2017 17 LIKES

Hey there, mama, and congrats on your new little one!

congrats

So you just had a baby, and with the congrats come all the questions about the baby, from well-meaning friends, family, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers. “Is it a boy, or girl? What was the birth weight? How are they sleeping? Are they feeding well? Were they born early? Late? Are they a “good” baby? Who do you think they look like?”And on and on. Sounds overwhelming, right? I’m sure you’ve heard these and many more. After the birth of my first child, a wise friend told me that she always asks the mom how SHE is doing, because everyone always focuses on the baby. Did I mention she was a wise friend?

And so, new mama, how are YOU doing?

selfcare2

If you were to give the answer that you think you “should” give, it might sound like: “I’m good! I’m tired, but good. This is just amazing. And the baby is so beautiful and I love her so much. And so everything is great.” And I might respond by saying something like “Can you even imagine your life before? Can you imagine who you were before you were a mom? Your baby is the most important and beautiful thing you’ll ever do. Just look at her. She’s perfect!”Ahh, so bubbly and happy, and there’s probably truth in there. But, if we’re really being truthful, you might be thinking: “Well, yes, I can imagine who I was. I was able to drink coffee in peace and quiet, and I was able to go out to dinner with my husband and have an adult conversation. I was able to SLEEP. I love this baby so much and I know this is worth it all, but I’m so, so tired. Like bone tired. And I’m trying so hard to breastfeed; is it supposed to be this hard? And should I be picking the baby up every time she cries? Am I doing this all right? “
So the truth is that new mamahood comes with all the feels. The love, the joy, the hope, and the sheer physical pain, the exhaustion, the worry, overwhelm, the frustration and even anger. And it’s all part of this process, to varying degrees. So what’s a girl to do? I know you’re thinking “please don’t tell me to rest when the baby’s resting, because we all know that’s just not happening. I have to take the dog out, eat, shower, do the mounds of laundry, wash a million dishes and try to call HR about my maternity leave, and oh, the baby only sleeps for about twenty minutes at a time.” Right. So how are you going to do “self-care” when you have no time or energy? You’re probably thinking it’s just not possible.

selfcare3

It is possible. I promise. Here’s the thing… self care isn’t about going once a month to get a pedicure and thinking that’s taking care of yourself. Self-care is about making decisions everyday, in your daily routines, where you choose to take care of you. And it can be monumentally difficult to do when you have a new baby who is completely dependent on you for their survival.

I’ve got two suggestions for how to make this work.
• Set a goal. Keep it small and simple.
• Be kind to yourself, above everything else. Especially when said goal isn’t met.

So, a goal. Remember how I said self-care is about making decisions for yourself in your everyday routines? I know your “routines” are nothing like they used to be. Your routines are now baby’s routines.
selfcare4

So keep the goal small and simple. When I had my second child, my goal was literally to take a shower everyday. (Before I had kids, I would never have believed this would have to be a “goal.” But yes, that’s how it goes!) So I adjusted my routines and made decisions like “I don’t want to wake up right now and I can probably squeeze out another ten minutes of sleep, but I know I’ll feel better all day if I’m showered.” Maybe your goal is around saying “no” to things that aren’t helpful or add more onto your plate, like guests who want to see the baby and expect for you to make dinner during their visit. Maybe it’s to keep protein bars and shakes on hand so that when you can’t find time to make a sandwich you can still squeeze in some nutrition.

And kindness. Did I meet my goal everyday? Absolutely not. That’s where self-kindness comes in. Is breastfeeding hard? Is a new baby exhausting and overwhelming? Is it lonely at times? YES. Most new moms have felt all of these things, whether it’s their first, second or fifth child. And we survive. What will make it easier is being easier on yourself. Would you ever tell your sister or your friend the things you tell yourself? Things like “You should know how to breastfeed, it’s natural.” or “You are going to mess your baby up if you don’t do this right.” Treat yourself the way you’d treat your closest friends and family. Put those encouraging words that you’d say to others in your mind. Come up with a simple mantra and say it over and over, write it down and look at it you need to. “I can do this. I am strong.” “I am the best person to take care of my baby.” “I know my baby best.” So even when you can’t find the time or the energy to do the self-care goal you had hoped for, because you won’t always, you can remind yourself that it’s okay and you’re still rocking this.

selfcare5
And, if you’re still really struggling and are feeling anxious, depressed, or generally upset, please reach out for help. While many of us feel a range of emotions during those early stages of parenthood, Postpartum Depression is very real and is not your fault. It improves greatly with help, so please don’t try to combat it alone. Some helpful resources may include:
https://www.postpartum.net/
https://postpartumhealthalliance.org/
https://postpartumprogress.org/

Hang in there mama, you’ve got this!

selfcare6

How Are YOU Doing New Mama?

Kelly Rush

LCSW-C, Clinical Supervisor

Kelly is a proud clinical social worker, and even prouder mama to two little ones, ages 4 and 1. She is excited to help families on their parenting and breastfeeding journeys by bringing empathy, understanding and support to the table.