I tried to research about postpartum life as much as I could before I had my baby. I wanted to be prepared about what I was going to get into. But with my research, I was so focused on what life was going to be like with my new baby and not what my life and body was going to be like.
I didn’t realize that my ever-changing hormones could affect every aspect of my body down to brand new food allergies and gut issues. I also didn’t realize having a baby would make my already-high-metabolism go into overdrive, causing me to lose a ton of weight. Which wasn’t ideal since I needed that weight to keep breastfeeding and stay healthy. And let’s not even talk about the number of times I had mental breakdowns in that first and second year.
I knew I couldn’t be the only one going through this, so why wasn’t anyone talking about it? Most mom articles I found focused on how to take care of the baby, not how to take care of yourself during this wild postpartum ride. And when I did stumble upon postpartum blogs, they were more like, “I did this, so you should too!” instead of giving me any real insight into what I could expect.
So, this article is for all of you out there who need to know you’re not alone, you’re not going crazy, and you could use some tips to navigate this “new normal” postpartum life.
Your Body’s “New Normal”
First things first: throw out the mentality of “bouncing back” to what your body was pre-pregnancy. Your body just did something amazing — it created a human, gave birth, and is still adjusting. Things are slowly moving its way back to where they’re supposed to go, but now you have extra room because your hips and your ribs expanded. Don’t stress about getting your old body back; focus on making your incredible new body strong.
If you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will grow and then when you’re done they’ll shrink up (maybe) or end up too stretched out and now they’re just flabby non-perky boobs. Oh, and your nipples will never look the same. Be prepared for that and don’t go buying newer, bigger bras just yet.
I had to buy new clothes to fit me three times in the past 2.5 years. My body went through a drastic increase in weight then a sudden decrease that was borderline scary, and then another increase. Why? Hormones. I pretty much blame a lot of things that happen to my body postpartum on hormones, but there are some strong correlation between the changes in hormones and how it affects the body. I’m still figuring that out to this day.
PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY. I will shout this one off the rooftops ‘til the cows come home. Please, if you can… get you some pelvic floor therapy. Or find a great exercise program that can help strengthen that pelvic floor after you have your baby. This will not only help you with unpleasant accidental peeing during a sneeze, but it will also improve your sexual health and ability to do normal exercise regularly.
Fatigue can happen. It’s quite common to be very tired in the first year of your baby’s life. Your body is still adjusting to the constant wake ups and your mind is trying to play catch up with the lack of sleep you’re getting. When they say “nap when the baby naps” they really mean it. If you’re like me and couldn’t nap, I highly suggest doing something low energy during nap times to give your body some rest.
Your Diet Might Need Changing
If you’re breastfeeding, you need those calories to not only keep up your supply but to keep up your calories that you’re burning making that milk. Also, allergies for the babies may cause some issues and you’ll have to accomodate for that. I did some research into caffeine intake because I wanted to be able to drink coffee and luckily it doesn’t affect breast milk that much — except for the occasional gas.
You might develop food sensitivities. This one was a big shock for me. Suddenly I felt allergic to every food I was eating. Mainly it’s gluten and some vegetables. I went to see an allergist and found out I was very allergic to foods I’ve been slightly inconvenienced by before I had the baby. I had to get an epipen for this allergy. Eating out became a bit of a guessing game.
You might develop GI issues. I’ve noticed this happening with me as well and a few friends have mentioned this. All signs point to GI issues, yet the doctors can’t really pinpoint the issue or find a solution. I wish someone had told me to start taking probiotics after having the baby. So this is me telling you — take probiotics!
Your Mental Health Matters
I know this is a mommy blog but this counts for dads, too. Your mental health matters. Postpartum life is not for the weak.
For moms, you are experiencing an influx of emotions, hormones, and straight up recovering from a trauma on your body that was the birth of your child (natural or not). You have all these societal pressures to feed your baby a certain way, to sleep train them a certain way, to start routines, etc. Stop. Take a deep breath. Clear out those voices and focus on yourself.
By taking care of yourself you’re also providing a healthier relationship with emotions for you and your child. Showing them how you can work on your emotions or how you channel your calm will in turn teach them to do the same for themselves. Also, don’t put it all on your shoulders to get things done. Delegate as much as you can!
For dads/partners, having a changeup in your routines can be stressful and exhausting. Adding a new responsibility to your list can be challenging and can cause some deep emotional stress on your life and your relationship with your partner. Stepping into the role of being the other parent is a lot harder than it looks and I applaud you for doing it. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about how you are feeling, especially if what you’re feeling is building resentment.
Having a newborn in your life can be stressful, especially if you are a new parent. Lack of sleep, the pain on your body, the stress of making sure your baby is fed well, it all adds up. Give yourself some grace and allow/ask for help when help is needed.
I hope some of these tips and anecdotes help you as you go on your postpartum journey. Please feel free to share your stories or suggestions in the comments!