After putting together an Instagram poll, it was overwhelmingly clear the topic that most of you were interested in was postpartum and recovery. However, before I share a few of my tips, let me start by saying I have been very lucky. Ryder’s been a good baby from the beginning and my mental health was not affected post pregnancy. I know that this is not the case for many new mamas so while these tips have helped me over the last few weeks, know that we all start at different places depending on our babies and our bodies.
- Tip # 1: Don’t let breastfeeding kill you. I was one of those new moms that wanted nothing more than to have the ability to breastfeed my little one. But after 3 weeks of exclusively breastfeeding, Ryder was not back to birth weight. The pediatrician was especially concerned because during the day Ryder was eating almost every hour! So he was always hungry and never feeling satisfied. This was really hard on me because I was constantly nursing him. I felt like I couldn’t leave the house for any period of time, just in case Ryder needed me to eat. And forget about having enough supply to pump and store bottles, with his veracious appetite it just never worked that way for me. After his first three weeks, with no weight gain and continual weight loss, my pediatrician suggested we supplement formula to Ryder’s diet to help him gain weight. I was disappointed but my pediatrician (Camelback Pediatrics!) made me feel so much better stating that Ryder would get the best of both worlds – breastmilk for the antibodies and formula for the vitamins. It’s still hard because today, 7 weeks later, I breastfeed him on both breasts and then give him a bottle of formula to make sure he is full. To be honest, it’s a lot of work. And I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to keep this up when I go back to work. When it comes to feeding, do what works best for you and your baby and try to let go of the guilt. I know it is hard, and to be honest I still struggle with it. But once we added formula to his diet, Ryder slept better and was overall happier. He also can be fed by his daddy which helps me keep sanity since I am not the only food source. As a side note, if you plan to breastfeed, invest in a good pump. I have been using my pump to help increase my supply and give bottles to Ryder so I can get some me time, which leads to tip number 2.
- Tip # 2: Get some time for yourself! Seriously! I know its hard. I hate leaving Ryder, with anyone! Even his Dad or Nana (my mom). Not because I don’t trust them, I trust them completely. But it’s biological for us moms to have this attachment that makes it difficult for anyone to care for our babies but us. I have been doing my best to trust and let go, because I promise the more you get out and do something for yourself the better mom and spouse you will be. I get pedicures, get in a quick workout, go to the mall or even the grocery store just to have some time for myself. It makes coming home to Ryder so exciting because I miss him and just gives me a little break. I am so lucky to have family nearby to help watch Ryder so Matt and I have even had a few dates in the past 10 weeks. Find someone you can trust to help you, it’s so important to have some breaks, either alone or with your partner.
- Tip #3: Get out of the house! This kind of goes along with tip number 2, but this time bring baby along! This was really hard for me at first. Especially when I was nursing every hour in the first few weeks, I had no idea how in the world I was going to leave the house with him. However, slowly but surely, Ryder and I have gotten into a little bit of a routine, which has given me the ability to find times to go run an errand or meet a friend for lunch. [As a side note, if you are a new mom you need to take TakingCaraBabies course. Cara helps you with this planning so you don’t feel like you are a slave to your child’s nap time, while still allowing them to get the sleep they need.] It’s not always perfect and trust me we have had some meltdowns (specifically one in Costco that was quite a scene because I also somehow lost my phone in the midst of unloading groceries, dealing with Ryder screaming, and trying to find my Costco card). But at the end of the day, Ryder gets more adjusted to being along for the ride. He gets used to other people wanting to look at him (because he’s the cutest baby ever, of course!), and he learns to adjust his nap time to sleep in the carseat. Let’s face it, we can’t always be at home during every nap time, so letting him get used to this early on has been important to me.
- Tip #4: When you are home all day, make staying home look good! This will mean different things for everyone, but for me, I feel so much better on the days I know Ryder and I are just going to hang at home all day to at least rinse off in the shower. I likely won’t do my hair, or put on a full face of make-up, but it makes me feel better to at least do one thing that makes me look and feel good. I’ve invested in a good self-tanner (St. Tropez!) because let’s be honest I won’t be laying by the pool for hours this summer. My girlfriend bought me some awesome gel nail polish by Essie (seriously it’s the best!) since I won’t have time to get manicures as frequently. I’ve started doing some home workouts while Ryder is down for his nap, because that is helping me get back into shape (I still have those pesky 10 pounds to lose!). Whatever this looks like for you, just take some time to do something that makes you feel good and look good while you are home all day. And remember, this is not about “dropping the baby weight quickly.” Our bodies took 9 months to grow and bake these gorgeous babies. It takes time to get back to your size pre-baby. All I’m saying, is that it’s so easy to lounge in PJs all day, never brush your teeth or comb your hair and suddenly its 6PM, time to eat dinner, wind baby down for bed and do it all over again tomorrow. And honestly, no one would blame you because being home with a newborn all day is HARD work. So do this for you – because I promise it will make you feel better!
- Tip #5: Let it go. This one is tough. I’ll admit that I have a little bit of OCD (or a lot if you ask Matt!). So I love when my bed is made everyday, dishes are put away, laundry is folded, the fridge is stocked, and the list could go on. But since having Ryder, I realized even with the best intentions, I won’t get to my entire to-do list everyday…and that is OK! Because raising that little guy is the most important thing I am doing right now. Playing with him a little bit longer, reading to him, or making him listen to me sing country music while we dance around the house is SO much more important than the dishes. I only have a few weeks left of being home with him before I go back to work, and I am doing my best to let go of everything that is not totally necessary. These last few weeks have gone by SO fast, and I know I won’t look back and remember the housework that wasn’t done. I will remember the way he smiles when we read “Little Blue Truck” and how he likes to cuddle and fall asleep on me first thing in the morning. I imagine that in a few months from now, he may be too busy crawling around to snuggle for hours with him mama, so I am letting go of the little things to focus on those big things.