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A successful postpartum experience will be defined differently for every woman.
I’ve had three babies and will each one the postpartum experience improved, mostly because I was better able to prepare and know what I would need.
We’re all different, and so are our family dynamics, but I do believe that there are some essential things that will almost certainly give you the best postpartum experience.
It may seem like an impossibility. I mean, rest? You have a baby that literally only sleeps for an hour or two at a time. How on earth are you supposed to rest?!
I admit, it isn’t always easy and you’re unlikely to get a lot of it, but getting enough rest so that you can at least function is so important!
Read about the Chinese tradition of postpartum rest –> The Magic of a Month of Rest
I don’t buy into the whole ‘sleep while the baby sleeps’ mentality. At least not to its full extent.
I mean, there’s a home to maintain and for many women, there’s no one else that is going to do it except for them.
So, what is the solution?
Work on Healthy Sleep Habits
First of all, the majority of babies are going to wake a lot, and that is basically out of your control. However, you can start from day one to instil healthy sleep habits.
I have worked hard on this with all three of my babies and they have all been sleeping through the night before 3-months of age.
Even if your baby isn’t sleeping through by then, they’ll likely only be waking once, maybe twice a night to feed.
That is a lot more manageable than every hour or two.
During the day newborns do tend to sleep a lot, even if it isn’t in consecutive hours. Do take advantage of that and nap when you can.
Once I had more than one child I made it a big priority to line up at least one nap a day so that I could have 1-2 hours kid-free during the day.
Go to Bed Early
Also, if you can, get to bed early. For the first 2-3 weeks postpartum you can expect to find me in bed by 8-8:30 pm.
Try to get as much rest as you can, even if it means turning away visitors in the beginning. I know that can be hard when you’re feeling pressure from people to see the baby
Ultimately, you matter too. If it weren’t for you, that baby wouldn’t exist. People need to respect that you need to be able to rest and function.
The baby isn’t going anywhere and it’ll be much better for the baby if her mother is rested.
Rest along with all your other needs will be so much easier to achieve if you have the right kind of support.
Moms, especially first-time moms have a tendency to feel as though they should be able to ‘do it all’ without help from anyone else.
Can I just tell you, that you are robbing yourself, your child, and those that love you of a great blessing if that is your mindset?
I understand it because I once felt that way as well.
Do you know what it resulted in?
Overwhelming anxiety and a sleep-deprived burnout mother.
There aren’t many things I would go back and change in regards to having my babies, but that is one of them. I wish I could take my first-time mom self by the shoulders and tell her to accept the help that was offered her. Not only that but to ask for help when she needs it.
There is no medal out there for denying support and doing it yourself.
Your child deserves a mom that isn’t an empty vessel. Your baby will be so blessed by having others take part in their raising. You will enjoy motherhood that much more when you’re not worn so thin.
If you are struggling, don’t keep that to yourself. In an age where postpartum depression is rampant, it is vital that we stay vigilant to how we’re coping.
Be honest with those around you, and most importantly, be honest with yourself.
There is a difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Read about it and know the signs. If you’re not sure either way, tell someone. The worst thing you can do is to keep it to yourself.
Even if it is ‘just’ baby blues, your feelings are valid. You’re allowed to be sad. The good news is that it will pass.
3) Good Food
Okay, not only did you carry a baby for 9ish months, but you gave birth. Do you realise what a HUGE toll that takes on your body?
Your body needs sustenance, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Making sure that you are having good food will make a big difference as to how you feel postpartum.
Your digestive system will likely feel all out of sorts for a while. Your appetite may be ravenous or it could be somewhat suppressed.
How you feel will obviously be unique to you. Regardless, when you do eat, try to eat something of substance.
In the craziness of postpartum, it can be too easy to fall into the trap of eating junk.
And let me just clarify that I’m not talking about intensely healthy meals. I’m just talking about substantial, balanced ones.
If people offer to provide you with meals, ACCEPT THEM!
If you can afford a meal subscription service, now is the time to sign up. You won’t regret it.
4) Time to Recharge
This may or may not be something that you need. If however, you are an introvert like myself, you are inevitably going to feel touched out by the end of most days.
When you have a baby you will be in close bodily contact with them for a good long while. There are perks to that, but you may also find that you miss having some space.
Getting a bit of alone time can really help to reset yourself mentally and give you a fresh mindset.
You will find yourself thinking about most, if not all members of your family for the vast majority of your day. And let me tell you, it is really difficult to shut that off.
Giving yourself the opportunity to rest both mentally and physically in solitude can make a world of difference when it comes to how you are able to cope with everything else that will come at you.
Society has had us buy into the lie that mothers are martyrs. The most sleep deprived, and the more days you’ve gone without a shower makes you all that much better of a mother.
A good mother is one that shows her children an example of meeting basic human needs.
But let me warn you that it needs to be intentional. You may be blessed to have someone that makes time for you to go and do simple things like taking a shower. However, for a lot of women, the fact is that we just have to take the time and do it ourselves.
5) Baby Snuggles
There is nothing quite like that first month of your baby’s life where they’re super sleepy and oh-so-snuggly!
I tend to be rather possessive of my babies during the first year of their lives, but I’m immensely so when they’re in their early weeks.
One thing that I’ve found to be super helpful in making the best postpartum experience, is holding your baby as much as you want/can.
If you have the opportunity to stay in bed and cuddle that kid, then do it.
Sit on the couch, watch a movie and hold that baby all day long if you’re able to.
I’m not talking long-term, just in the early days.
There’s something beautiful and cathartic about holding a brand new babe.
That baby is yours. Soak them up. And don’t let anyone let you feel bad for doing so.
Also, don’t feel bad if you don’t want to hold your baby all the time. That can be totally normal as well.
Ultimately, do what works for you and don’t worry about what others think and say.
This is your experience, not theirs.
Until next time!
Hi! I’m Christine. I am a former registered nurse, turned stay-at-home mom, turned work-at-home mom!
Motherhood has always been my passion and blogging has only added to that and given me a creative outlet to share about the things I love.
As my blog has grown, my desire to share the knowledge of what makes my life less stressful, simplified, and more fulfilled has become one of my driving forces.
I have a heart for mothers that feel as though they are just existing from day to day and are longing for more. You can find out more about me and my family over on my ‘About Me‘ page.
As well as the abundance of posts you’ll find on my blog, you can also find me over at Today Parenting.