New motherhood, especially for first time parents, is one of the most challenging times you might ever go through. Having a support system ready during this period of your life is, not only important, but CRUCIAL to your success. If ever there is a time in your life that you should let your guard down, be vulnerable, and ask for help, THIS IS THE TIME.
Many new parents that I work with, assume that the father will fill in and be his partner’s biggest support system during this time. Although this is so important, it is NOT ENOUGH. No matter what, the new dad is also learning throughout this whole process, and he is also working through the emotions of new fatherhood, the exhaustion of all-night marathon sessions and the after-glory of being the support system during his child’s birth.
For new mothers, this is the time to let your partner know that you WILL need to engage more help and support. That help and support can come in many ways through friends, family and community. It can also come through INVESTING in professional help- that of a postpartum doula, postpartum body worker and even a pet-sitter and house helper.
Here are 4 Tips To Thrive for New Mamas and Babas!:
- Specify Two Main Support People to Call On For Help- other than your husband or partner (and preferably plan this out before baby is born). Your partner/husband will undoubtedly step in and step up and do the job, but he can not do it alone. These two main support people are ideally living nearby or coming at the birth of the baby and staying around for those first 40 days. They are people you can call on, be vulnerable in front of, lean on and cry to. You don’t mind them seeing you in your robe and pajamas and with your dishes all over the kitchen counter. They will do the job without you even telling them. They will hold the baby at night when you just need to sleep. They will wash your dishes and make you breakfast, lunch, dinner and bring you snacks and drinks all day. If this sounds unattainable, think about how you can make it happen; what is the closest thing you can do to bring this about. Do you need to hire help? Start saving up for that today!
- Invest in Postpartum Body Work. Yes, you earned it, and you WILL find the time for it. Postpartum body work includes postpartum massages, womb steams and moxa, belly binding and closing of the bones, chiropractic work, acupuncture and pelvic floor physical therapy. All of this might sound like a luxury to you, but if you can squeeze and pinch here and there, you should make this a priority. IF YOU CAN’T, find a family member, friend or your husband/partner, and plan to have them give you 15 minute shoulder/back and foot/leg massages weekly. This body work will help release the hormones of relaxation throughout your body, and help you unwind, de-stress and will lower your level of anxiety (which is so normal for new mothers!).
- Fill Your Pantry and Fridge with Nourishing, Postpartum Foods. Food is medicine in every sense of the word, and having someone prepare nourishing meals for you in your first forty days will help regulate your hormones, nourish your body and give you the sustenance you need to heal after pregnancy and birth and the energy you need to support yourself and your new baby. Before baby is born, read Heng Ou’s “The First Forty Days” and fill your pantry with ingredients she recommends that you are already familiar with. Batch cook recipes similar to the ones she recommends (from your own culture and what you are familiar with) and pack your freezer. Take a class before baby’s birth on Postpartum Prep & Nourishing the New Mother , invest in a postpartum doula who will focus on preparing ideal postpartum foods, or purchase a postpartum care package with warming soups, teas and snacks for your first few weeks. And don’t dismiss the ancient wisdom that your mother/aunt/community member holds. That bowl of chicken noodle soup that your aunt drops off is perfect for those first weeks after baby.
- Make Time for Deep Relaxation, Slow Breathing and New Parent Affirmations. Just as important as it was during pregnancy and birth to practice these things, it is important to carry over this positive practice into your new days of mothering. Things can get hectic, and even when baby is sleeping, you feel like it is so hard to unwind and sleep with the baby. You are waiting for her to wake up, you are overworked and tired, but your mind just won’t turn off. This is the time for you to listen to your deep relaxation and breathing tracks and to go into a space of deep breathing. Some resources that you might find useful:
- GentleBirth App- This is a paid app that you can download on your phone and use throughout pregnancy and new motherhood. It includes plenty of affirmations, meditations and relaxation tracks for the different situations that you might face throughout pregnancy, birth and new motherhood, including a Breastfeeding Affirmations Track, a Bottle Feeding Affirmations track and a New Mother Meditation. ($13/month)
- Insight Timer- is a free meditations app that includes numerous affirmations, meditations and relaxation tracks for all situations.
- Hypnobabies Online Store sells many relaxation and hypnosis mp3s for new parenting, among other things.
And finally, remember to lean in on your support system! Our community thrives when our families survive!