I am not a mom and I don’t have plans to be one, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find motherhood one of the most admirable things you can choose for yourself. If you’re pregnant for the first time you might be freaking out about what to expect. That’s why I reached out to six different mommy bloggers to get their advice on how to mentally and physically prepare yourself for your first couple weeks after baby comes!
Postnatal Exercise & Breastfeeding Advice
Shannon Sawicki from Venus Fitness
The first few weeks at home with your new baby can be very challenging. The physical recovery from giving birth, along with sleep deprivation, can make you feel like you might lose your mind. Plus, it’s hard on your fragile and developing maternal self-esteem. As a personal trainer and recent new mother here are a few tips to physically prepare for your new role:
Do your Pre and Post-natal Exercises. “Yeah, right” is what you’re probably thinking, but TRUST me! Between the stress of carrying your baby for nine months, labour, and a future of carrying a baby that is only going to get heavier, your core and back will benefit from these:
- Bridge Pose
- Dromedary Droop (or cat/cow pose)
- Pelvic Tilts
- Leg lifts
Before starting back up with these postnatal, it’s important to check with your Doctor first. Once you have the OK, and feel up to it, try incorporating them with your baby.
Breast feeding. You would think this would come naturally, but it often doesn’t. That is why there are support groups and books dedicated to this subject alone. If you choose to breastfeed, I suggest getting a nipple guard. This will help in those first few weeks when you are both learning. My baby happened to have a tongue-tie which prevented him from being able to properly latch. The nipple guard protected me from a lot of discomfort and potential infection. Bottom-line, if you are having difficulties breastfeeding talk to your doctor or seek out the help of a lactation consultation. Above all, remember that FED is best.
You can find more on motherhood and fitness at Shannon’s website, www.venusfitness.ca or e-mail her at Info@venusfitnessandlifestyle.com!
The importance of self-care at a selfless time in your life.
Andrea Rhodes from Selfies to Selfless
You are in the thick of it, new Millennial moms. Sleep deprived and haggard, there are days you wonder how the hell you got here. And it’s at this point that you’ll want – no, need – to get some balance back. You are at a critical point where you recognize your priorities have changed, but that you need to get some of your groove back. But how to begin that journey back to YOU?
For starters, you will have to do something that will feel so incredibly counterintuitive post-baby. You’ll have to be selfish. As a mom, you are hardwired to be selfless. Your kid(s) come first. Your family comes first. But at this critical juncture, YOU need to come first.
You will have to remember what made you happy before kids and then commit to figure out a way to do those things again. Maybe it’s wandering aimlessly through Target for an hour or meeting friends for a drink. Go to a movie and have a date night with your husband. Don’t be so quick to say no to an invite knowing you have a good excuse you could fall back on. If you can make it work, make it work.
Those short bursts of time away from your kids will reenergize you both mentally and physically. You’ll be at your best when you are back at home. A little less on edge, a little more willing to put up with the shenanigans your kids pull on you. And most importantly, you’ll start to see how you can be a mom without JUST being mom.
Andrea Rhoades is the creator of Selfies to Selfless, a parenting blog for Millennials. She is passionate about exploring the unique challenges the newest generation of parents face. Follow her as she reveals the hopes and dreams, fears and failures of Millennial parents. Follow Selfies to Selfless on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Unexpected stays in the NICU
Vanessa Sze from Simple Lists Simple Life
Everything was normal in my pregnancy, until my daughter was being delivered. Due to a precaution, my daughter was sent to the NICU to spend her first week of life. It was not at all something I expected, but here are some tips to get you through a short stay in the NICU:
- Your emotions are going to be everywhere! You just had a baby, but realize that the feelings your feeling about your baby being sent to the NICU are valid! Don’t feel guilty!
- Buy a parking pass for the hospital. You will be visiting a lot!
- Clean your phone before you enter the NICU EVERY time! Phones are filled with germs and you will want to take photos of your precious little one! Clean it!
- It’s helpful to have someone available to watch your other child/ren, if you have any, or arrange a schedule between yourself and your partner to spend time at the NICU.
- Take advantage of the Ronald McDonald house/room.
- If you plan to breastfeed, pump every 3 hours that you are not with your baby. Also, pump after feeding your baby at the hospital. Use the pumps there! They can provide you with the pump, just bring the attachments. (In my hospital stays, the lactation consultant brought me attachments to use while in the hospital)
- Bring a bottle for the NICU nurses to use to feed your baby. That way the baby will get used to the nipple.
- Your baby, most likely, will get hooked on the pacifiers that only hospitals get. Ask for an extra one at discharge!
- Trust the doctors, but ask questions! Make sure someone is there at the time the doctors do their rounds. Write down any questions you may want to ask as you think of them so you know what to ask!
- There are going to be so many alarms going off, but don’t worry. Most likely, a cord is kinked!
You can read more in-depth details about these tips by Vanessa at her website, Simple Lists Simple Life.
Advice on how the partner can be helpful after baby comes
Meghna Dixit from Love, Life, and the Little One
There are plenty of articles and tips on the Internet for postpartum recovery and care, but having been there and done that, I would like to blog about, what we, the new moms in our postpartum stage, want & expect from our husband / partner.
Here’s my list:
- Hold the baggage : Literally & Figuratively. We are holding the baby almost all the time, feeding them, sleeping with them, bonding with them. All the other items like baby bag, our water bottle, extra shawl & sweater & any other weight that’s weighing us down emotionally and physically, we want our partner to hold & support. It’s not easy being stitched up at places, and walking straight as it is!
- Take care of the visitors : With the baby comes the admirers of the baby, the family, the extended family, friends, colleagues & well wishers. We are anyway sleep deprived momzies, battling our inner and outer pain coupled with sudden burst of love that our heart can barely contain with the heaviness of the onset of depression. Please entertain the guests, please keep them away when we are sleeping and please only let the good-bye helpful – positive ones in..
- Talk & Reassure us: Yes, you will be amazed by the little one who has arrived in your life. Yes, the focus will move on every twitch of the baby’s nose and the wrinkle on that little palm, and the pout & cry.. Yet, we need you too. Talk to us. Hear us out. Reassure us that the baby is amazing and so are we as a brand new mom.
- Love without expecting sex: Hugs, cuddles, massages & kisses. Yes, a new mom wants it whether she knows it herself or not. Give her the love freely. Give her your attention and affection but don’t push her for sex. Let that be her choice at her discretion when she feels like it. She is a mother, but you can be her husband, her friend, her caretaker and partner in the journey ahead.
Parenting is a team sport. So, the partners need to be at sync with each other, holding on to each other’s strength to bridge the weaknesses.
This is only a very small snippet of the full list which you can find here! Meghna is a blogger at Love, Life, and the Little One. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook!
Advice on dealing with Post-Partum Depression
Yvette Putter from The Mommy Confessionals
The term Post Partum is often discussed and mentioned and written about, but the honest truth about it is, that no amount of reading or talking about it beforehand can prepare you fully for it. It sneaks up on you and it comes when you least expect it, a time of immense joy.
I’ve been there. I’ve been the mom who couldn’t see just how badly she was hurting. The mom of a newborn that she loved so much, yet, who couldn’t explain her own feelings and thoughts most of the day because it just wasn’t rational.
When it comes to Post Partum Depression, what I think I want other moms to know, is that it CAN be you. You might not think so now, but it’s true. PPD can hit anyone.
The second thing I want new parents to know, is that while the mom is suffering from PPD, she most likely won’t realize it. She might not want to admit it. She might say you are crazy and stinky and not worthy of her and her newborn child for even suggesting such foolishness.
But, if YOU as a spouse or friend recognize the signs, then do something about it.
Even if the mom thinks you’re the crazy one. Find ways to help her. Find ways to make life easier. Find ways to give her time away from the house and the baby. Find ways to make her feel connected to who she was before she was a mom. Find ways to support her in getting sleep. Find ways to support her in eating healthily. Find ways to be there for her. Don’t ignore signs. Don’t accept her telling you that she is fine.
You can find more from the amazing Yvette at her website, The Mommy Confessionals.
What to expect when you’re adopting
Meghan Liddy from Lemons, Limes & Laughter
Unlike biological parenting, adoptive parenting doesn’t start at the beginning. For some, you jump in quickly. Many like me jump in months and even years later down the road. Adoption begins with loss and that loss is so important to acknowledge. Sometimes the emotional realization for adoptees happens in childhood and for others, it happens later in life.
When bringing a child home via adoption or fostering it is so important to erase expectations. Adoption is complex and nuanced and so from the day a child enters your home, your journey of complexity begins. For those bringing home older children, it is my experience best to cancel everything if possible. School, work, outside activities to give you and your new child(ren) time to transition and giving you time to adjust to parenting.
Find your resources: adoption groups, books, articles on trauma and adoptive parenting are so necessary. But most of all find resources where adoptees voices are centered. It gives you direct insight into your child’s potential thought process, emotional journey, and perspective.
In those first weeks, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the emotional complexities. Have someone that you can trust with every thought whether a spouse, pastor or therapist that can help you sort through your own emotions. For my own journey, a counselor helped me process and walk through different emotions while transitioning from a life of singleness to a life filled with two little ones underfoot. Often the narrative of adoption seems like unicorns and rainbows. It’s not and its ok to have real human emotions and to be honest but leave your child’s story with them. It’s the most sacred part of their journey.
It’s ok to have extra screen time, to not always be the perfect parent, to eat a few frozen dinners and to stress eat a few snickers. Like a post-partum mom, you are also undergoing an entirely different emotional and hormonal journey. The comparison is a dangerous game.
Let people take care of you but don’t let them take care of your child. Attachment is so important in those first months. It’s ok to let others pick up pieces for yourself. Let the meals on wheels come, let someone else write that email or send that update. You just focus on attaching and bonding with your child.
You can read more awesome content from Meghan Liddy at her website, Lemons, Limes & Laughter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter to stay updated on her amazing adventure with adoption and other great advice.
I hope this advice helps all of you new moms out there to quell your fears. Of course, you won’t know what to expect until baby comes, but we are all cheering you on! The most important thing to remember is that You Got This!