Reflections on my postpartum journey - Baby #1

Learn to REST.


Wow - this one was so hard for me. After birth you have so many hormones coursing through your body and the rush of bringing life into the world is exhilarating. You are also on such a high from meeting your sweet babe that coming to rest is so challenging. I was aware of every move that Liam made, every shift in breathing, every twitch of the hand. My senses were on high alert and all the while I could feel my body's desperate need for sleep. "Sleep when the baby sleeps" they say - but nobody warns you about how hard that would be! How wired you will be, how overwhelmed and emotional you will be or how in love you will be. The kind of love that makes you stay up all night!


So I realised, and was encouraged by some wise people supporting me, that I needed to stop focusing on SLEEPING and start embracing opportunities to REST. Learning that sitting with my eyes closed while Liam nursed counted as resting, and that watching an episode of Brooklyn 99 for some laughs counts as resting released me from the pressure that I had put myself under. This made all the difference.


So, learn to rest. Redefine it to suit your needs. Allow yourself to breath and don't place such a high value on sleep. Your body will take care of itself if you allow it to.


Learn to ACCEPT HELP.


One of the most helpful books my husband and I read in preparation for Liam's arrival was "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by La Leche League. In the book they discuss the role of your partner, especially within the context of breastfeeding. They explain that often Moms feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of breastfeeding their newborn and the partner feels overwhelmed by their helplessness. But what we must understand is that in those early months, the mom is the baby's lifeline. Their relationship is primal, instinctual, it is about survival.


However your partner also has an incredibly important role to play. Your partner has the honour of showing your baby that there are other relationships in the world. Ones that do not depend on food and survival. Ones that are built on a different kind of love.


So accept help, from your partner, from the loved ones you choose to surround yourself with and know that not only are you choosing for your own health and wellbeing but you are also setting up your baba for healthy relationships in the future.


Learn to USE EXPERTS.


We needed help. It was hard to admit. It was hard to accept. It was hard not to feel like a failure. I mean, this mothering thing is supposed to be natural right?


Truth is that yes - it is natural - but I had to learn that natural does not mean that something comes easy.


Liam and I struggled to figure out breastfeeding, something I was not prepared for at all. In fact, breastfeeding was the least of my worries going into my postpartum period. But we struggled. I cried, I persevered, I read, I told myself it would get better. But it didn't. And I finally accepted that this is not something I can just "power through". So we got help. We saw a wonderful lactation consultant. We chatted to our midwife again. Liam got Cranial Sacrum Therapy.


And it changed our lives. To be honest, I believe it changed Liam's life too - not just in those early days but his whole future life too.


You are not a failure if you need the help of an expert. There is a good reason why they are there. So speak up, reach out and get help because it will not only change your life but it can have a direct effect on the life of your baby.


Learn to CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES.


You guys.. the fourth trimester is hard but it is also SO GOOD if you allow yourself to experience it fully and I learned that that means celebrating small victories.


Liam wanted to be on me all the time. I literally mean like he did not nap in his crib, on the bed or anywhere except on me or on his Daddy. And when he was not napping, he was nursing. It was a never ending cycle and it was exhausting. He also hated any kind of carrier.


So the day that he happily sat in this carrier for a whole 10 mins while I made myself something to eat was worth a selfie and a happy dance. Because it was a victory. I had lunch that day. I celebrated. I even bragged about it to my mom. It was a good moment and it gave me the courage to face the next moment that was maybe a bit harder.


Do a happy dance when that burp finally comes out, eat that celebratory piece of chocolate when baba naps for longer than 20 mins, clap hands for a nice full diaper and sing in the shower when you get 5 mins free to actually shower.


Celebrate the small victories because motherhood is made up of a lot of really wonderful little moments strung together with the harder ones into the most wonderful experience you can ever imagine. And Mamas.. each moment is worth celebrating!


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