Take Gentle Care of Yourself
Submitted by an Anonymous Unboxd Author
Advice on caring for yourself during pregnancy, pushing through labor, and taking gentle care of your precious newborn seems to be readily be available. You can find it whether you search for it through hundreds and thousands of pages online or while fearfully skimming through What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
You will most definitely receive it unsolicited from commentators just about anywhere you go.
When I was pregnant with my first son I had a plan (I have a plan for most things in my life).
I would spend these 40 weeks glowing and beautiful and every other woman would continuously comment in envy on how amazing I looked while pregnant. My birth would be hard but nothing I couldn’t get through with a tough attitude. I would head home from the hospital with my hair and make-up looking flawless (but not too flawless..imperfect enough to appear natural), and of course I would have the most adorable baby anyone has ever seen. Yup… It was going to be exactly as I had planned.
At 37 weeks, after gaining close to 40 pounds, swollen feet and hands, and at a high risk for preeclampsia, I was induced and I remember thinking this wasn’t the plan.
My labor was a grueling 48 hours from start to finish. I saw OB after OB as their shifts ended- one of which told me I had a metal cervix that refused to dilate. Wonderful.
Here’s what I have learned after having two beautiful babies in two years and what I wish someone had told me about life after giving birth.
Post-partum is hard.
It was harder than the entire 40 weeks plus labor. I say this from the bottom of my heart. Take gentle care of yourself. Take care of your emotions, let go of the guilt you may feel from surprises during your labor, take care of your body, and nourish yourself. Your life has changed. Cut yourself a break. This is hard- it’s not supposed to be easy despite what people may tell you (if they tell you it’s easy they have hired help or are just blatantly lying). You are not failing.
Throw your plan out the window.
Not only for labor and delivery but for motherhood. Begin to embrace some chaos and be okay with it. Kids teach you patience, SO MUCH patience! They rattle your world and all of your type A STEM like plans. Instead set loose guidelines but don’t get too attached.
Pumping is awful (mostly because the current technology for pumps is atrocious…. *hint hint*). Do not beat yourself up if you can’t breastfeed or if you can but you hate it. I could write an entire piece on just this alone. PS. The formula fed and the formula supplemented are also thriving!
Have a start and end to your day.
Eat breakfast. It makes a difference trust me.
The most useful advice I received was from a maternity nurse.
She very firmly told me babies do not die from crying- babies cry from adults shaking them out of frustration and exhaustion. When you feel yourself breaking mentally put the baby in a safe space and walk to a place where you cannot hear the cries. Come back after a few minutes when you are in a new frame of mind.
Whatever you do, do not run into your closet and try on your pre-baby jeans!
You will end up in tears. Leave your body alone as it tries to heal. I recall running to the grocery store 1-week post-partum to load up on fruits and veggies to begin my dieting journey. As I carried heavy bags up to my apartment I felt faint, weak, and defeated. I felt the tears streaming down my cheek as I realized I could not do what was a formerly simple task on my own. I wanted my old life back so badly and I was ready to do it as quickly as possible. What I hadn’t realized is that it had changed forever. Fitting into my old clothes would bring only a small piece of my life back. My body needed time- give yourself time.
Incorporate something into your day to day that hasn’t changed.
Pre-baby I woke up every morning, got ready for work with my make-up and grabbed a coffee as a I headed out to start my day. I built this into my post-partum morning routine. It’s amazing what a little tinted moisturizer, mascara, lipstick, and a fresh cup of jo can do for your day! Find what makes you happy and do it every day. Even if just for a few minutes.
When your significant other says why don’t you go out for a walk, or grab a coffee with your friend. DO IT.
Leaving the house even for 20 minutes can change your entire perspective and give you the mental break you need.
Know that you are enough.
You are beautiful inside and out. Your baby will know you as their comfort, their peace, they will forever be happiest in your arms and against your chest and it will always be their home.