This post is part of an editorial series, “Healthy Mama,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Texas Health Care Privia Medical Group North Texas, which includes Dr. Elisabeth Wagner, Dr. Mickey Hooper, Dr. Bea Kutzler, Dr. Doug Decker, Dr. Jamie Erwin, Dr. Kathleen Cammack, Dr. Emily Maas, Dr. Jennifer McLeland, Dr. Lindsay Breedlove, Dr. Martha Guerra, Dr. Danielle Burkett, Dr. Robert Zwernemann, Dr. Jay Herd, Dr. Ingrid Kohlmorgen, and Dr. Martin Read. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you make decisions for your own health.
You have waited nine months, and you have finally had your baby! Congrats! You are deliriously happy, and you don’t remember what life was like without this tiny person. And now you are home with this tiny life.
So it begins — the battle every mother faces. How do I keep myself healthy and heal, while caring for a tiny helpless baby? Every mother, every birth, every body, and every situation is different. But the need for a mother to heal is universal. The awareness towards postpartum depression and anxiety in the past years are huge steps in the right direction, but if you are a first-time mother, healing and mental health might not be in the forefront of your baby preparations. Here are just a few tid-bits of advice from a mama who has been there.
Please Rest (Longer than You Want to)
This is the hardest part of postpartum time. You will want to share your sweet new baby with the world. You will want to answer every request to come see your bundle of squishy goodness. Allow yourself time to rest. Please recognize your body has changed more in nine months than a man’s will in his entire life. Then you ran the marathon of birth, and now you have a dinner-plate sized wound in your uterus. And for some, you might have stitches in a very uncomfortable area. Your breasts are going to bring you pain like nothing PMS has ever brought before.
You are totally on a birth high, but remember you are healing. And healing, like all good things, take time. Rest to allow your body to heal, your hormones to re-balance, and your emotions around your labor and birth to process. Rest so you can heal properly and fully so you can be there to care for you baby. Rest even past the point where you feel like you could go out. It took nine months for your body to create and birth new life. Allow it the time to return to its center.
Please Accept Help
If and when people offer to help, accept it. So many times, we women have had to prove we are independent and can stand on our own feet. We have been told by media that we should have it all together. Having a newborn and healing from birth is not the time to prove anything to anyone. This is a time your community or family will reach out to help, and saying “yes, please” is going to be the best thing you do. Take the casserole, take the gift card, take up the offer for someone to come do your laundry. Do not have someone come hold the baby so you can do the chores yourself.
Please Check Yourself
I would love to insist every mother takes some time each day to meditate, do yoga, or go for a solo walk to check in with her mental health, but we know mothering a newborn is chaos, and each day is as unpredictable as the last. So you may have to be creative in find how to carve out a few moments to ask yourself some questions:
- Am I okay?
- How do I feel about this stage in postpartum?
- Am I eating and sleeping enough?
- What have I done for myself and my mental health today?
While taking a shower or driving the car was my “thinking” time. If you are struggling, reach out to a friend or loved one. You are not alone. And you will have bad days, and that is okay. You will cry for no reason or any reason, and that is okay. Your feelings are valid, and it is okay to ask for help.
Please Seek Support
If you can find a mom group or find a group of mothers that meets weekly, join it. You may be vulnerable, and you may have to try a few to find your tribe. But finding other mothers to lean on, ask questions to, vent to, and cry with may be the best gift you can give yourself.
When my son was born, I was the first of my peers to have a child. The only time I left the house for the first few months was to attend a local breastfeeding support group. Some moms were like me; others were very different. We all listened to each other and knew we were there because we needed to look across the room and see other moms were walking the path of figuring out how to be a parent and keep ourselves alive.