3 Ways to Reconnect to Yourself Postpartum
I am a first time mom to a wonderful red headed boy by the name of George. He is our family’s little ray of sunshine. Bringing him into this world and caring for him, changed my life drastically but I’ve had a hard time letting go of my old life and embracing my new life. I know my postpartum experience is not unique and would be familiar to many new parents.
When we initially brought George home, it was a whirlwind. I was recovering from an emergency C-Section, struggling to produce enough milk, and having an extremely difficult time functioning on very little sleep. I am a migraine sufferer and sleeping in 2 hour bursts exacerbated my condition to the point of having migraines almost every day. The outside world barely existed to me in the first month of George’s life but as time went on, the fog of a life with a newborn was lifting and I began to crave some of my beloved activities. But I soon found out that doing activities after baby is significantly more complicated.
Since I was breastfeeding, I had time constraints on when I could be away from George. I was also tired most of the time and would often crash by 6pm. That put a damper on things. And I felt guilty any time I was away from George because I felt that I had to dedicate all my time to him (talk about societal pressure of being the perfect mommy). And all this was happening while I was on my maternity leave. Needless to say that going back to work did not improve things; it just put on extra time constraints on everything. Couple all this with having close friends without children and longing for the life left behind becomes overwhelming.
It is hard to cope at times with the notion that my life is not truly my own anymore. I am an adult but I don’t get to do what I want. I get ruled by a tiny little human, who dictates my schedule to the second.
To be honest, I am jealous when my friends do a bar crawl and don’t even consider asking me to go along but at those moments, I have to stop and remind myself that my life’s different now and that bar crawls and nights out clubbing are a distant memory. I don’t want to sound solemn but I also don’t want to kid anyone and pretend that I’ve got this parenting thing figured out. I don’t. Nonetheless, I’ve been working on some mental strategies to help me through these times and I would like to share them. Here are the 3 things I did to reconnect to myself postpartum.
Spend time away from baby
It’s important to have activities away from baby. And I’m not talking about going grocery shopping without a stroller. I’m talking about a favorite pastime that you and your partner enjoyed before baby came along. It can be a dinner out, a class (dancing, painting, pottery, etc.), volunteering, a hike or spending time with friends. It’s easy to neglect your relationship post baby but you should not do that; a happy family starts with a happy couple. Don’t neglect each other.
Get a sitter or ask a trusted friend or neighbor for help. Those date nights are so important. But it’s also important to have some “girl time” with your girlfriends. You used to have fun with them before baby, so don’t forget them after baby. They could be your strongest support in this trying time.
Leaving the house postpartum? Incorporate baby into activities
Of course there are times when getting a sitter is not possible. During those times try to do daytime activities that can be done with baby in tow. Go to brunch, a brewery or winery, a stroll in the park or come over to a friend’s house. While not exactly the same as without baby, it can still work. Prior to your baby being 6 months old, he(she) sleeps a lot and you can almost pretend that you are sans baby (fair warning, even when you pretend, please, remember that you are with a baby that is solely dependent on you for survival).
Do your best not to be stuck at home by yourself all the time. New motherhood can be truly isolating. It may feel completely overwhelming to think about everything you need to take the baby with you for an outing but it’s so worth it. Some fresh air and human interaction will do you good.
Invite a few friends over postpartum, you’ll appreciate the company
When you can’t leave your house bring the party to you. It doesn’t need to be big, just a few close friends. You can have a potluck dinner, a game night or a movie night. No need to hire a sitter but you still get to hang out with your friends and have fun. You are also just a few steps away from your bed, in case you feel tired and need a break from the festivities.
Those are just some things I do to keep my sanity while adjusting to my new status quo. I try to remember that my emotional well-being is integral to me being a good mother and a functional human being. I definitely have moments when I feel that I lost myself and my new self just doesn’t fit right but most of the time, I manage to keep my head above water.
Do you have anything you’d like to add for those of us who are struggling with our new mom identity? Please, share your coping strategies in the comments area.
Quote of the day
“Motherhood is… difficult and… rewarding” – Gloria Estefan
Mental Health Tip of the Day
Spend at least a few minutes a day outside. Being outdoors has been proven to elevate mood. Your baby will benefit from fresh air as well.