As a mom of three, I've learned a lot of things the hard way. Even as a doula and childbirth educator I'm continually learning new things. My biggest teachers in this life are my children and I often say that the things I got right, I got REALLY right, and the things I got wrong, well, I learned the hard way! Learn from my personal mistakes and also my now immense doula trainings so that maybe you can have an easier postpartum time:
I wish I'd asked for help.
I honestly thought I could do it all alone. I thought, "Having a baby is natural, right?" I assumed after a little post-birth healing, that i'd be up and about my routine as usual. I thought I could clean the house, make food, grocery shop, immediately and all by myself. I didn't consider how heavy my need to process my birth would be. I didn't know how heavily I needed a tribe of women to help me cook, help me clean, listen to my needs and fears. I didn't realize how I'd crave woman-to-woman wisdom and story sharing. In fact, I find that a lot of what I do now as a postpartum doula is sharing my own stories of my babies and myself after each of my own personal births. New mothers are thrust into a completely new life and we want to know that we aren't the only ones who have gone through this and survived! Many of my postpartum clients ask me, "Did your babies do this? Did you feel this way?" and there's something so vital and sacred in that sharing.
Not to mention, hello, I needed help with some daily physical tasks. I wish I'd asked for help or even better, I really wish I'd hired a postpartum doula.
I wish I'd had a better understanding of breastfeeding.
Again, I assumed, "It's natural so it's easy right!?" Oh boy. Breastfeeding wasn't an easy, or even pleasant, experience for me. I dealt with everything from thrush, tongue ties, double mastitis, and raynaud's syndrome. Needless to say, breastfeeding kicked my ass. I wish I'd known that it was a hard journey for a lot of women. I wish I'd known that it was OK to stop! I felt so guilty moving onto formula and I also wasn't fully prepared on what formula to even choose. What bottles, what pacifier, what formula? These were all things I didn't even consider until my body was aching and the whole experience wore me down. Plus the mom-shame of feeling like I'd failed. Maybe this falls into the category of asking for help. Maybe a lactation consultant or postpartum doula could have helped me be more successful. But I really wish I'd had a better idea of how hard breastfeeding can potentially be.
I wish I'd prepared really good meals.
Postpartum nutrition is SO FREAKING IMPORTANT. I didn't prep for that! I was literally breastfeeding and eating graham crackers and twizzlers because they were easy. The last thing I wanted to do was cook. I recommend The First 40 Days for every expectant mother. It's full of mineral rich recipes you can freeze ahead of time. PLAN on being STARVING every moment of the day and pack food in your fridge like you're about to feed a football team.
I wish I'd gone easier on myself
Our society pushes us to "bounce back" immediately after baby. But your body, mood, LIFE, are all forever changed. I wish I'd ignored that dumb pressure and just enjoyed the ride.
I wish I had a self-care routine
This is a fairly new trend honestly. I have only started making self care a habit in the past couple of years. I encourage expectant parents to write down a list of things that make them feel loved and renewed. Try to implement at least one of those things every day. Wether it's a bath, a good meal, a splurge purchase, a walk, listening to music, whatever it is-- DO IT and do it EVERY DAY. As moms we get so wrapped up in taking care of everyone else that we are usually last on the list. But you can't pour from an empty cup! You gotta take care of you.
I wish I'd left the house with a crying baby.
Yep, you read that right. In the beginning of my postpartum time I was terrified of leaving the house with baby. What if I had to nurse in public? What if baby cried?? What if I couldn't calm baby down? What if everyone stared at me?? Forget it. Pack a diaper and go. Just go. Get out of the damn house. If baby cries, baby cries, and baby will calm down and be happy again in five minutes. Leaving the house for fresh air and perspective is ALWAYS worth it and it's a good habit to get babies used to. They need to get out too!
I wish I'd owned my parenting decisions
From friends, to family, to strangers and doctors. ERRR-BODY got an opinion. There will always be someone who disagrees with what you do, how you do it, how often you do it, blah blah blah. Cloth diaper or disposable, breast or bottle, vaccine or not, attachment parent or cry-it-out. You're with your baby too much or too little. It's a sh** storm of opinions and it's overwhelming. It still is sometimes. But I've learned over the years that ya know what, if you're doing the best with what you have, then who cares. At the end of the day our babies are loved, and healthy, and cared for, and diaper choices don't really matter in the long run. So own it and forget the haters.
Those are a few things I wish I'd done. What would you add to my list?