Over the years, I've worked with hundreds of pregnant woman from all walks of life and no two have had the same pregnancy or birth experience. Some have an easier time with the transition into motherhood than others. It doesn’t mean that they love their child any more or less. It just means that transitions are different for different people.
Many women are embarrassed to talk about this. In private sessions, they tell me they've had shame and guilt about their feelings. And so, I wanted to take the time to write this so all those women know that they aren’t alone. Here are some things I've found to be helpful when assisting someone through the postpartum/emerging mother phase.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
We all have different levels of coping, and different gifts to share. Just because so-and-so lost her weight in a month, or your friend's baby was sleeping through the night, or your sister had the easiest time with breastfeeding, doesn’t mean that will be your experience. When you realize you're comparing yourself and your baby to others, simply become aware that you're doing it and pull your energy back to you. Stay focused on who you are and on getting to know your baby.
2. Surender to the process.
Post-pregnancy is a time of integrating this new you and new baby into your life. You're finding your way, and you can’t rush it. You need to allow it to unfold naturally. When you rush, you can push things to happen way before they are ready, rather than allowing them to authentically unfold at the right time. For some, this process can last a month while for others it takes a year. When you allow yourself the time and space to figure it all out, you'll come out on new territory a lot more ready and prepared.
3. It's just temporary.
Every thing right now is in-between what was and what will be. Your body is in-between pregnancy, what is was and will be. Your hormones are all over the place, your baby is here as well as in-between worlds, and your relationship with you partner is shifting as you learn how to integrate this little miracle that you both created into your life. And to top it off, your sleep is sporadic. Good news: this is all just temporary and not how your life is going to be. It's just how it is right now, which is all part of the transition.
4. Let go of how you thought it would be.
Some of the biggest disappointments in life come from how we think things should be. It's healthy to have hopes, desires, and dreams, but when we cling to tightly to them it leaves little room for what actually is. It's also limiting because things might unfold for you better then you ever thought possible. So have your hopes and wishes and then trust that all is unfolding just as it should be.
5. There is no such thing as perfect.
There is no prefect person or way of doing anything, however there is a perfect way for you. Use this time again to find what FEELS right for you, your family and child. Read books, talk to people you respect, try different things, and create your own authentic style of doing parenthood that supports who you and your partner are and who this child of yours is.
6. Get support.
This is key! Surround yourself with positive people who nurture you and are supportive. Sign up for a Mommy and Me group where you're around like-minded people. Ask for help! People love to help and by allowing them to, you're actually giving them the gift of being of service.
7. Rest and recharge.
I know: how can I rest and recharge when I have an new baby? I love using the metaphor of when you're on an airplane and they tell you to first put on the oxygen mask so you can better assist your children. Your new baby is 100% dependent on you. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't have anything to give. Nap when your baby naps, delegate chores by allowing others help you, limit your visitors and set boundaries. Put an outgoing message on your phone and emails, saying you just had a baby and it might take you some time to get back to them. Eat healthy, nurturing foods like oatmeal, salmon, and steamed vegetables, as well as easy-to-digest stews and soups.