Being pregnant is a roller coaster ride. So worth it, but definitely a challenge. Many moms are unsure of what they need during pregnancy or the postpartum period, so here’s some wisdom to help you take better care of yourself while postpartum.
After I had my 4th child, I had a few days in the hospital to rest. Then, as you mamas know… back to mommy business.
Then I realized there was one thing I couldn’t do. I couldn’t pick up my 1-year-old. He still needed to be picked up and put in his crib for naps. Picked up and put in his high chair to eat. Just sort of… picked up and taken care of.
It caused me pain, but I pushed through the pain. Until I couldn’t push through the pain because walking hurt me. Bending over hurt me. Lifting anything heavier than the newborn hurt me.
I’d pushed too hard too soon and felt stupid.
And I felt pain.
Finally, my mother suggested I call an aunt to come over and help with the heavy lifting. Pun intended. I felt humbled to ask for help, but she was a godsend. She helped me through a rough few days and allowed me space and time to recover properly.
What Moms Need Postpartum (But Are Too Scared To Ask)
Mothers these days are very hard on themselves. They think they must do everything, be everything, and not ask for help. They think they don’t need rest, don’t need space, and they can do it all. It’s all Big Fat Lies.
Here are what moms want but are scared to ask for.
A Few Days of Nothing But Newborn
A few weeks ago I asked my very non-planny Type B husband if he’d give me a few days after coming home from the hospital to just be with the newborn. Not worry about mealtimes, routines and schedules, getting everyone down to nap at the same time, and all the other daytime shenanigans.
He agreed (and said perhaps we’d call in my mom for support) and I rejoiced. By asking in advance for what you want, you give yourself and others time to prepare, organize, and most importantly… you can enjoy these early days without being crushed by mommy guilt.
Food… That Is Left On The Porch
After the birth of my second, our church started a rotation that gave us food for an entire month. One entire month without having to cook dinner. I don’t mind cooking, but I cannot even tell you how much that meant to us. And, best of all, they seemed to understand this secret code.
The code of “pop in, pop out, and if mama has a look in her eye, just hand over the food at the door.” I never felt I had to engage in conversation, wake the baby up, or “entertain.” If you know your friend would love you to stick around, by all means do so, but go to her house thinking it’ll be a short visit.
Though she may love you, a steady string of visitors for weeks can be very stressful for some women, particularly introverts.
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A Budget for “In-Between” Clothes
Even if you don’t gain a ton of weight, you won’t be able to fit into most of your clothes for a while. Like when fighting the Bump Frump, a woman doesn’t need to stare at a closet full of clothes she can’t wear. It’s discouraging, demoralizing, and makes you want to go eat cake and ice cream with french fries on the side.
Gift money or gift cards for some postpartum mumus. Encourage your friend to set aside a small budget to purchase a few nursing friendly dresses for those first few months. This will help her feel put together until she’s able to fit into her old clothes. While you’re mentally surviving the newborn phase you don’t also need to be obsessing over your figure.
Attention for Older Kids
Those first few weeks can be difficult for everyone in the family. Particularly when dad goes back to work. The older kids may feel jealous or misplaced for a time, like when you’re feeding a newborn around the clock. Beloved family members and friends who invite your kids for movie night or bring them to the park are a godsend.
Even if you bring over your kids and supervise a play time while the postpartum mama rests… you are helping mom feel less guilty she’s not giving her older kids the attention she’d like. Of course, they’ll survive, but it’s an all around gift.
“Won’t Take No For An Answer” Friends and Family
Sometimes asking a postpartum mother what she wants is not the way to go. Her likely answer will be, “We’re fine, thanks.”
“Yes, I’d love if you cleaned my bathroom, ordered us a pizza, or babysat my older kids” just doesn’t come naturally to most modern moms. Instead of calling or texting to ask how she’s feeling or what she might need, just get on with it.
Make her that dinner and take it over.
Call to offer babysitting with a few dates and times in mind.
Show up with your cleaning caddy and ask where you can begin.
She may not ask for your help, but she won’t turn you down.
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