For those who don’t know me, hello! My name is Amanda Morgan and I’m the voice behind the blog Healthy Wifestyle. I’m also a new mom to my adorable little bundle Lacey, who’s about to turn seven months!
Motherhood has been such a blessing, but it’s also had its challenges. Being a new mom is hard work! I certainly wasn’t prepared for this role, but I’m certain that most new moms feel this way. Your baby comes out of the womb requiring your attention 24/7, and you’re expected to drop everything about your old life and transform into this superwoman of a mother. It’s a lot to handle, no matter how much you feel like you had things together prior to baby.
They say it takes a village. They’re right. In most other countries around the world, this phrase is translated rather literally. Women have neighbors whose doors they can knock on to ask for a helping hand with their baby, so they can take a nap or go to the store by themselves. Of course, many of us know our neighbors, but the cultures are quite different. This leaves many women doing things completely on their own or with little help, and can end up in total isolation in those first few months.
Women by nature crave community. It’s crucial to our happiness and success that we lean on each other! So in this post, I’m sharing some personal details about my own experience in the hopes that we can have more open discussions about what is by far the most wonderful and trying experience a woman endures.
1. Don’t be shy about asking for help.
We all have those friends who’ve said “let me know if you need anything!” either right before the baby arrives or just after. We rarely take our friends up on this. Why? I doubt our loved ones would offer if they didn’t mean it. Whether it’s your close girlfriend, your mom, your mother-in-law, or anyone who’s willing to help, take it and don’t feel guilty for a second. You’d do the same thing for them, wouldn’t you? Yes!
When it comes to professional help, have the discussion with your partner beforehand about what will work for your family, both financially and in regards to how much help you think you’ll need. We had a night nurse for those first few months, and having her saved me in many ways. As for during the day, I was on my own until Lacey was about five months, and I realized I was ready to start working again and needed some help. We have a wonderful part-time nanny who’s with us for about 18 hours per week, and this time away allows me to take care of myself in addition to working.
Happy mama, happy baby, right? I don’t spend every hour of those 20 working. I exercise, go grocery shopping (because we all know its never the same with a baby!), and take care of any appointments that need to be taken care of including physical therapy for my diastasis recti, acupuncture, etc. Those hours away keep my body and mind healthy, and are necessary for me to be the best mom possible to Lacey. And she loves our nanny, so it’s a win-win!
2. Your recovery is specific to your body, so try not to compare.
I wish I had a way to say this politely, but I don’t, ha! My recovery sucked. No recovery is easy, but mine felt really hard. I had a natural childbirth that involved over two hours of pushing, and as a result ended up with a minor bladder prolapse and an unfortunate amount of scar tissue.
I used to get upset around eight weeks postpartum when I saw all of these other new mommies hopping on spin bikes and walking around like they didn’t just have a baby. I was still in so much discomfort, and had trouble understanding why I couldn’t keep up.
I truly believe this was one of the first lessons Lacey taught me. My body needed extra time to heal, and I didn’t become physically active again until around four months postpartum. It was necessary for me to S L O W D O W N and enjoy the time with my baby girl. Comparison is the thief of joy, and this instance was no different. Every birth is different, every baby is different, and every postpartum period is different.
3. Be patient with yourself, and with your baby.
This is a continuation of my last point. It’s so important to remember that you’re brand new at this whole mom thing. Comparing yourself to others is never going to be the answer.
So your best friend had no issues breastfeeding and you’re struggling? That’s okay. And your mom’s telling you to stop waking your baby up to feed during the day because she never did? That’s fine too. Do what works best for you and your baby. (By the way, both of the above instances happened to me!)
Your baby is also brand new at this whole “being out of the womb” thing. You’re teaching your baby how to sleep, how to eat, and how to survive outside of your belly. You’re both new, and you’re doing this together as a team. Not everything is cause and effect—sometimes you’re going to have rough days, and that’s totally okay. Just remember there’s a new day tomorrow!
4. Forget about doing it “right.”
There is no right way to raise your baby. Your intuition as a new mother is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal! I read so many books and at the end of the day, my gut knew better than my head every single time.
I’ll never forget this one night when we were in the midst of transitioning Lacey out of her Magic Merlin Sleepsuit and she could wiggle her arm out of one side (I know, she’s a total houdini). I saw on our monitor that she had done this and I just knew she would wake herself up shortly after unless I went in there and tucked it back in ever so quietly. It worked! She slept the rest of the night in peace, even though it was a risk on my part. Things like this happen ALL the time, but learning to trust your intuition (in all aspects of life!) is critical to feeling at peace with your decisions.
5. Have fun!
I know…fun?! What’s that again? You’ve never felt this exhausted, there’s a baby attached to you (literally) around the clock, and you and your partner are trying to simply cope with this new way of life.
Fun may look a little different these days. Maybe you can plan a date night at home with your partner when your Mom’s in town. Or perhaps even get out and see a movie! Whatever it takes, do something for yourself and enjoy this time, including those newborn snuggles. They’re the best!