Health, Moms

Mama on the Mend

You’ve done it. You have brought a life into this world. Look at you! Whatever the journey was that brought you to deliver your baby, know that you are a warrior.

Your Instagram feed might tell an entirely different story, though. Rather than reading positive and uplifting messages about easing into this new life and reality, you are instead being bombarded with judgmental articles detailing exactly how to get your mom-bod to bounce back ASAP. No really, like now.

The pressure on new moms (and second-time and third-time moms) to immediately revert back to the person they were before their babies is worse than ever before.

Let me help you pull you back to earth, Mama. Read these words and then read them again. Pass them on to someone else who needs to hear them. Let’s change the narrative of post-pregnancy bodies and minds together.

Healing Takes Time
It took your body over nine months to create this human. Your body is not the same. Things have moved, swelled, and shifted. It is ludicrous to think you will get into your pre-baby jeans in two weeks. Or two months. Or 20 months. If your priority is anything but giving yourself rest, nourishment, and self-love, you are doing it wrong. You can’t be a great mom if you’re exhausted.

Mental Over Physical
Too much time is spent talking about what a mom should do about her “post-baby body,” and not nearly enough time is spent talking about her post-baby mental space. New moms are experiencing all the emotions. From joy and elation to fear and absolute paralyzing fear, it is a mixed bag of feelings that ebb and flow each day.

Becoming a new mom is extremely overwhelming, even if it’s your second or third go at this. Don’t hesitate to be vocal with your family about what you are experiencing. Consider asking for someone (ahem, your partner) to step up and help out. Take a long bath, read a good book, or binge watch as many shows as you want. You have earned the right to take as much time as you need. Cash those chips in.

Don’t Sleep on Doc Visits
While your baby’s needs are taking up precious bandwidth right now, resist the urge to skip your own postpartum doctor visits. Your doctor is there to help you identify anything that might be off, or that could lead to further issues down the road.

Not feeling so thrilled about this whole mom life thing? Tell your doc or therapist. Concerned about how tired you are? Don’t keep it inside. This is a time in your life it is imperative to overshare. There is no shame in being brutally honest about what you are experiencing as a new mom. Trust that your doctor has heard and seen it all.

Ditch the Junk Food
Nutritious food is crucial for a recovering mom’s health and well-being. Additionally, if you are nursing your newborn, those fruits and veggies will help with milk supply. Please remember, eating healthy has nothing to do with getting your figure back after baby and has everything to do with taking the best care of yourself so you can be the best version of you.

In addition to healthy foods, do what you can to get water throughout the day. Yes, caffeine can once again become a part of your life, but coffee can be dehydrating and cause other issues. Buy a cute new water bottle if it will help, but make water a priority. If water really isn’t your thing, add cucumber or lemon slices to jazz it up and keep the fluids coming.

Use Technology to Help
Mom brain is real–and maybe even worse–than pregnancy brain. Your mental energy is prioritized on caring for your new baby. It is not cheating to get help. Utilize technology to help remind you of the things that will make life easier. Ask your digital helper (i.e., Google or Alexa) to remind you to pump at a certain time, or to automatically order diapers on a regular cadence. Investigate apps that help you track your baby’s naps, feedings, and diaper changes so you can be armed with information at each pediatrician’s appointment. And remember, this is a skill that both parents should be utilizing. Don’t be afraid to dole out responsibilities to your partner; they’re in this with you!

Speak Up
There is a misconception that mothers inherently know what they’re doing. The unfortunate reality is that there is no magical mom manual that downloads into your brain after your baby leaves your body.

As a new mom, I didn’t know the right cadence for bringing my son into the pediatrician. During his six-month appointment I discovered my son was behind on several benchmark checkups to monitor his growth. While I initially felt the urge to apologize for my incompetence, I instead looked at my son’s doctor and said, “No one told me when to come in. I am new to this. Please help me.”

If you were lost, you’d ask for directions. This is no different. Lean on the experts who know the answers.

Be Ready for Anything
This new mom gig can be touch and go. Some days you will feel like you’ve got the whole thing down to a science. Other days may feel heavier and more challenging. Despite whether you’re having a good or bad day, know that they are collectively forming the story that is a life with your baby. Every moment is important, the good and bad. It is crucial to remember that you’ve been given a beautiful responsibility–and to take each day as it comes. Ask for help when you need it, ignore social media ads, and cherish every moment with your child.

3 Ways to Heal Faster
1. Delete social media–Or at the very least avoid it for a while. Take pictures of your baby and your life at home over the next few months. You can always send photos to those you truly care about or post about them later.
2. Get out of the house–If weather allows for it, do what you can to take a walk with your baby every day. It doesn’t have to be far, but the fresh air will make a world of difference.
3. Ask for gifts that will help–When someone asks if they can help you in any way, give an actual answer that will help you. Ask for a week of grocery delivery, or a laundry service or house cleaning. You don’t need a casserole, you need help.
4. Limit the visits–Well meaning friends and family members will be asking to come by to see the new addition. Schedule a time for the visit and limit the interaction to 60 minutes or less.

This article was originally published in Fall 2023.