You saw two blue lines on a pregnancy test, your doctor confirmed that the test was indeed correct, and you’ve seen what looks like a jellybean on a sonogram. Congratulations, you’re pregnant!
After nine months of taking those awfully large pre-natal vitamins and watching your body transform beyond your wildest imagination, you are now holding your beautiful baby! As you carefully adjust the car seat straps for your baby’s first ride home, it suddenly hits you, “I’m a mom!”.
It’s just the beginning of you making adjustments for this miracle that you created. Adapting to motherhood while continuing to work, maintain relationships, and preserve the essence of who you were before motherhood can seem impossible. However, it can be achieved if you make a conscience effort to find balance.
First Days at Home with Baby
Your first days at home as a new mom can be overwhelming exhausting to say the least. You have a new little person to take care of while caring for yourself in a way that you may not be used to.
You just delivered a baby, whether vaginally or via C-section, a few days ago and your body is going through a process to heal and restore itself. You are now waking up about every 2 hours for feedings and diaper changes and your usual 6 to 8 hours of sleep has vanished.
Your first days at home after delivery is the time for your village to help you with things like laundry, preparing meals, cleaning and maybe even keeping an eye on the baby while you rest.
You may not be accustomed to asking others for help and you may even think it’s a sign of being incapable of caring for your child.
Contrary to your thoughts, having a supportive village will provide some sense of normalcy in regards to having the time to take a shower, eat, groom yourself, or sleep for a few hours. This will help lighten the feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted.
All villagers that visit you in the first days at home are not there to support you on your new journey.
Some of your friends and family members who want to see “the new baby” will come sit on your couch for hours, about nothing but themselves, and even ask for your help or advice.
They can’t see the look of sleep deprivation on your face because they are busy spilling their guts about their own troubles. Although it may be tempting, a few days after delivery is not the time for you to save the day for family and friends. You simply don’t have the resources.
Complications or obstacles that require your immediate response may present for you or your baby in the first days at home. Unsupportive, self-serving visits will drain you of the energy you need as a new mom and even put you at risk for postpartum depression.
I’m Happy to Be a Mom, But Why Do I Feel This Way?
Postpartum depression is a very real experience for new mothers or any mother who has recently delivered a baby.
I, a strong mom and doctor, experienced postpartum depression. When my second child was 3 months old, I was starting to get the hang of juggling my pumping schedule at work, managing chiropractic patients, and caring for 2 children and a husband.
I was my feeling pretty good about myself as I portrayed the quintessential “superwoman” who could balance work and home life!
Without any warning or reason, my supervisor called me into his office and callously laid me off from my dream job. I felt like I had been exposed to kryptonite and the feelings of hopelessness as a mother and as a woman begin to invade every crevice of my mind.
With positive thinking, I believed I could will myself into a better mindset and feel strong again. I’m a superwoman, right? However, the unrelenting negative feelings did not leave me. When I talked with my doctor and husband and began to pray and meditate, I began to find relief.
Having physical, mental and spiritual support ushered me into a place of relief, hope, and peace.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
According to the Office on Women’s Health, postpartum depression is a serious mental illness in which a mom has feelings of sadness and emptiness, has a disconnection between herself and her baby, and/or has no interest in caring for herself or her newborn. It should not be mistaken for “baby blues”.
“Baby blues” is feeling sad or down for 2 to 3 days after your baby is born and the feelings subside with 3 to 5 days.
However, if those feelings persist for 2 weeks or more, this is postpartum depression. If you experience this, you should visit your healthcare provider to be tested for postpartum depression.
Your healthcare provider can provide you with referrals and treatment options that will help you manage your symptoms. You are more at risk for postpartum depression if you have a history of or you are currently experiencing:
depression or bipolar disorder
a lack of support from friends and family
body image issues
have an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
no time for yourself, feeling like you’ve lost yourself in motherhood
stress from schedule or work changes
problems with alcohol and drug use
Moms, please don’t be ashamed if you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. You are not alone in this. It won’t make you less of a mom for getting the help that you need for the well-being of yourself and your baby.
The moment you deliver your newborn, more than likely, your primary focus is caring for the needs of your baby.
However, learning to care for yourself while you care for your baby is the key to adapting to motherhood.
Motherhood is for a lifetime therefore, it’s imperative that you give yourself the care that you need. If you master this in the early stages of motherhood, it will allow you to provide your child with the love and support they need to thrive.
If getting a mani-pedi was a way you relaxed and managed stress before your little one, continue to do so! If you never took the time to decompress and relax, motherhood is a great time to start.
You will experience what I call “mom guilt” when you decide to do something for yourself. You will think to yourself, “I could be doing laundry, cooking or doing something for my family instead of having a girls’ night out.”
Don’t skip out on the things that give you happiness and that are a part of what makes you, you! You should schedule time for yourself along with doctor’s appointments, feedings and anything else that’s important.
It’s crucial to take care of your physical, mental and spiritual health so, there’s no need to feel guilty about doing so! Your little one is depending on you and deserves the best that you can give.
You and Motherhood Were Meant to Be
As soon as you laid eyes on the positive pregnancy test, the sonogram, and the face of your sweet little angel, your baby became the most important thing in your life.
In the same moment, you became the most vital thing to your baby. The most valuable thing you can give your baby is a mother who is happy, healthy and emotionally present.
You may feel like you’ve gotten off to a rough start because your birth plan or breastfeeding didn’t go as you planned. You may feel like you are not getting the
hang of this motherhood thing at all. Don’t worry. You were chosen to gifted with this uniquely beautiful task called motherhood. Calling upon your village to help as you adjust will make all the difference.
In the beginning, we all have doubts in our motherly capabilities. However, one thing is
certain. You will be written down in history with all of the greats who are called, “Mom”. I know that you were made for this and you will find your balance in motherhood. It was meant to be.