The first postpartum year is full of challenges, but there are ways to ease the transition. Trying to power through the many trials and difficulties of this period is never a good idea. Below are helpful tips to help you survive and thrive as you adjust to motherhood.
1. Be kind to yourself. Moms are notorious for their harsh self-talk. Make a commitment to focus on your strengths and be compassionate during times of struggle.
2. Lean into uncertainty. Try to meet uncertainty with flexible expectations. This is a transitional period which means that things are in flux. It will not be like this always. Give yourself time and practice being in the here-and-now.
3. Let go. The sooner you learn that the bed does not always need to be made, and that your kitchen can remain a mess a while longer, the better you will feel. Release the perfectionism. Here is a remarkable opportunity to learn to be a little less driven and more present-focused.
4. Make room for grief. Having a child is a massive life transition and not all of the changes it brings are welcome. It is okay to feel sad and miss parts of your old life.
5. Sleep/rest when the baby sleeps. Being sleep-deprived puts you at an increased risk for postpartum mental health issues. Although it is hard to go to bed when you feel there are so many things that need attention, remember that this is a brief chapter. Over time, you will be able to accomplish more. For now, sleep needs to be the top priority.
6. Learn to ask for help and be okay with it. Don’t make the mistake of equating self-sacrifice with doing a good job as a mom. There are seasons in life when we give generously and seasons when we must be open to receiving. Others can help only if they know what to do. Ask clearly for what you need.
7. Do not forget to eat. Your body needs nourishment in order to heal and re-balance after birth and manage the rollercoaster ride of the early postpartum months. Do not skip meals.
8. Bond with your partner, not just the baby. It may feel like there is no time for you as a couple, but you both need to feel loved and seen in order to meet the demands of this new chapter in your shared life. Make sure you talk, hug, and take a little bit of time every day to connect.
9. Join a new moms group. No flying solo, mama! It does not just take a village to raise a child, it takes a village to raise a mother. Find your tribe. Steer clear of moms who make you feel less-than and with whom you can’t be real.
10. If you are worried about your mental health, seek help. Postpartum mental health issues are common, but this does not mean you should ever accept them as part of your experience as a new mother. Anxiety and depression are highly treatable. With the right support, you will get better. Do not wait to reach out. You deserve to live a full, happy life.