Most people think as soon as you pop that baby out, everything goes back to normal. While some of that may be true, most of it is not. First of all, your body just pushed out a tiny human. If you are completely normal after that, then you must be Wonder Woman. Your body is forever changed after having a baby and from now on, you will always be post-partum. To be honest, it is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever gone through. Yes, there were times where I hated being pregnant. The restrictions sucked like not being able to push myself through a hard work out or riding a bike without someone telling me it wasn’t a good idea or not being able to eat sushi. And there were days where I craved sushi. But I would do it all over again to have those sweet little baby snuggles.
That first week post-partum was a struggle. Not only mentally but physically as well. Right after birth, the nurse usually helps you to the bathroom however I made it a point to not use help. Yes, I am very aware I am stubborn. I may have used her to stand up but once I got my bearings, I wanted to walk by myself. Now I am not saying it was easy or I walked like I was totally fine, but I still was able to do it. I made it a point throughout my pregnancy to keep my legs and hips strong and worked on my balance… a lot. Does that mean I was able to walk everywhere? Ha! No. My limit was that 5-foot walk to the bathroom, and I had to sit there for a while to make sure I can stand up again. Once we got home from the hospital, I couldn’t just sit on the couch all day, so we tried going for a walk with baby Gunnar. Just walking down the street and back was enough for me. I was so tired after and couldn’t do anything else for the rest of the day, but I needed to get that blood flow and go outside to keep my sanity. I truly believe this helped me not only physically but emotionally.
Having a baby puts a lot of stress on mamas mentally. A majority of staying healthy post-partum is mental. My husband and I had a lot of talks before the baby came about post-partum depression and if I started to feel like that at all, I needed to communicate it to him immediately. Just knowing that he was there for me and wanted to help keep me healthy meant so much. Another saving grace for me was my parents. Not only were they there the first week but they cared about my mental health more than anything. Yes, it was their first grandchild and they were so excited however, every time they came over, they gave ME a hug first and checked on ME first. New mamas know how good that actually feels and how it helps mentally. Even when they left to go back to California, they called almost every day to check on me and how I was doing mentally. I was so thankful they checked on me so much because once that baby comes, people tend to ignore you and go straight to the baby. Nothing hurts more than when you walk into a place and no one even looks at you or says hi to you, they only care to see the baby. Yes, this happens more than I would like to admit. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel any type of post-partum depression or anxiety.
Make up doesn’t seem as important as baby snuggles.
Having those post-partum depression/anxiety emotions didn’t really hit until around 3 or 4 months and is still a constant work in process but I do know that it would be a lot worse without the help of my husband. He has been the most supportive and patient person with me and always working with me to stay healthy mentally. Your hormones are all over the place trying to go back to being normal along with recovering from pushing out that tiny human. One thing that has helped me a lot is working out. What a shocker, I know. But it has helped me relieve stress, and work through any demons I have. Being a new mom, as well as a being a perfectionist, I tend to try way too hard to be a perfect mom. Although I know I am far from perfect, the stress of trying to be the best mom to Gunnar can cause emotions to be all over the place. My husband always says, “Gunnar just needs you. He loves you just the way you are.” It sounds so simple, but it helps so much.
What also helps is having a friend or another new mom to talk to about what you are going through too. One of my best friends had a baby a little less than a year before I did, and she has been a constant positive influence on me since I found out I was pregnant. Answering all my questions and reminding me that whatever I decide is what is best for the baby. To have a friend like is priceless. Not only having her to talk to but all my close friends have been so supportive and have been more of a help than they realize. I love my tribe more than anything.
Gunnar loves going for walks. That first month he was born, we probably went on a walk every day and still go on walks a couple of times a week. There were times where going for a walk was the only thing that would keep him from crying. You bet I walked for an hour straight one day because it was the only thing that soothed him. I truly believe this has helped me get back into shape and keep me healthy mentally. There is no better cure than fresh air and sunshine. So, my advice to any new mom out there is do not stay inside all day for weeks. If you cannot go for walk because the doctor says not to you are physically don’t think you are up for it, please stay and rest but maybe sit outside. It will do wonders.
Now I have been a big advocate for eating healthy and that STILL rings true post-partum. I have kept my nutrition clean for the most part and making sure I am still fueling my body for not only my health but for Gunnar’s since I am breastfeeding. I saw a post on Instagram one day, I don’t remember by who, but it said, “A Healthy baby is a happy baby.” And I took that to heart. If he was healthy, he was happy. If he had gas, a fever, ear infection, or teething he would always cry or was whiny. Since I was breast feeding, he was getting his nutrition from me so if I felt it, I knew he would too. This has kept me accountable for the past 6 months and he has been so happy 80% of the time and I do believe it has everything to do with him being healthy and getting the right nutrients. This has made the process of getting my body back to pre-baby weight a lot easier.
Another thing that I have tried to do more of recently is write. Like I am right now. My husband has been getting onto me lately saying that I need to do something for myself other than working out as a hobby. It hit me hard when I realized I have not even tried to write at all because I felt guilty giving myself that time away to take care of myself and to do something that I loved. He was right. Again. Don’t tell him I said that, but I do have him to thank for getting back into my blog. And this is something I plan to keep going even if I don’t get to it every week.
Having a baby has changed my life forever. And it has been the best change I have ever had. However, it is easy to lose yourself in becoming a mom. You want to give your child the world, putting yourself on the back burner. But something I have learned is that, if you are happy, your baby will see that and feel that and will be happy too. Keeping yourself healthy physically, and mentally has been so key for me post-partum.
If you are a new mom or about to be a new mom, find something that you love to do and keep doing that for as long as you can. Don’t feel guilty by doing something away from your baby and significant other to keep yourself mentally healthy. It will be a saving grace.