Motherhood

10 Ways To Be Kind to Your {Postpartum} Self

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I am so happy I’m not pregnant right now. (These past 9 months haven’t exactly been a cakewalk.)

But with this truth comes reality…

I am now postpartum.

If you’ve been postpartum before, then you are familiar with that time of transition. Going from the joy and wonder of pregnancy and birth, to the time of healing afterwards.

The squishy belly. The aching you-know-what. Swollen ankels. Aching back. The after birth contractions. The super attractive mesh panties. And the fatigue. The list goes on!

The postpartum stage is rough. As a first-time mom, it can be hard to prepare for this. I surely had no idea what to expect when I gave birth to my son 6 years ago.

Even as a 3rd time mom, this transition is still a little new to me. So when I was at the hospital I thought to myself, “how can I, and how can other women be kind to ourselves as we recover from having a baby?”. I actually wrote the rough draft of this post at the hospital!

One thing that has always bothered me about having a baby is the lack of attention that a mother gets after she births a baby.

Medically, we may be taken care of. But sometimes it feels like no one really sees us. Maybe we even lose sight of ourselves a bit during this time.

But just remember…the baby may be important, but you are important too!

 

10 Ways to be Kind to Your {Postpartum} Self

 

1. Embrace your body, your image of postpartum, no one else’s.

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Women’s bodies are all different. So our post-birth bodies should be no different. Be proud of your body and what it has done for you. Love that squishy belly because it has done some amazing stuff!

 

2. Know yourself.

No one can advocate better for you than yourself. Keep in mind your likes and dislikes. Inform the nurses of your emotions and mental health if you have concerns.

I struggle with anxiety and I struggled with it at the hospital too. I let my nurse know and she helped me through it. And the important part is that she asked how she could help me through it. I had to know what would help best in that moment. (And everything turned out just fine. ☺)

 

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3. Communicate your needs.

Both at the hospital and at home, it can be frusterating to not be able to do things. 

But especially at the hospital, it’s important to communicate with your nurses and let them know your needs. It’s their job to help you and to support you while you heal.

It can be hard to express what you are feeling, not only physically but emotionally. But the better you can communicate, the easier it will be for others to help you.

Trust that others will help care for you and baby while you both adjust to this new phase of life.

 

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4. Let people do things for you.

You are not superwoman and I’ve learned the hard way that it is important to open up to accepting help because doing everything will only wear you out.

While at the hospital, let the nurses take over and help you. It’s important to let them help while you heal, so you can sleep and take care of yourself.

And at home, let a trusted adult help you with the baby. Someone to assist you so you can grab a shower, some food, etc will be a lifesaver. Even big siblings can be great helpers for fetching this and that for you.

No woman can do it all! And rest is more important now than ever.

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5. Do what you can to sleep at the hospital, even though it’s hard.

A hospital setting isn’t really anyone’s idea of a restful environment. I think the most rest I got was after I got my epidural. Then it was all downhill from there.

It can be hard to relax. And then once you finally manage to fall asleep, there is an “interruption”. I struggled a lot with sleep, which is normal. Towards the end of my stay I got a blessed 3 hour stretch of sleep in though. And it was awesome!!

 

7. Eat.

While at the hospital, eat as much of your meals as you can. Protein and other iron-rich foods are good. Eat what you crave. (I loved cheeseburgers and tons of fresh fruit.)

And make a mental note of what you like and crave so you or others can buy and prepare it when you get home.

Also, snacks from home can be a lifesaver! Or just recruit one of your visitors to smuggle you in some treats 😉

 

8. Take a long shower.

Enough said. Baby will be ok in the nursery, feed ’em and send ’em. Those first few showers after birth are glorious.

And find a way to get those showers/baths at home. I’ve found the best time for me is when all the kids are in bed for the night, or in the morning before they wake up. Otherwise, have your significant other, relative or trusted friend help watch baby.

 

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9. Take it easy.

I know, I know. Definite no-brainer right? But it can be hard to do, especially if you were used to being active before.

Take it from someone who overdid it much sooner than she should have. Take it easy. If it is at all possible, let someone else do it. Let someone else go out for diapers. Let someone else take the kids for a walk. Overdoing it will only give you added fatigue and other unwanted issues.

 

9 1/2. Indulge in pampering.

This doesn’t need to be elaborate. Think small. I love lip balm, so I packed some up in a little coin purse to use at the hospital and at home.

Some other ideas are special lotions, a favorite book or a nice cup of tea.

 

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10. Love yourself.

Give yourself grace mama, because you are doing great! Really! Soak up that sweet baby goodness and pat yourself on the back. Because what your body has just done is amazing. And you should be proud!

Rock on, mama. Love that baby & love that body. You are precious and loved!

I ask that you bear with me as I return to blogging. Right now, my goal is 1 post per month as I take on mothering my 3 busy bees 🐝🐝🐝

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Motherhood

Breastfeeding vs. Formula: The Good, The Bad And Everything In Between

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I realize that this is a loaded topic. Not everyone will see eye to eye with me. And that is ok. But this is a post filled with care and consideration. It’s from the heart of a mama who understands both sides of the “coin”. For each of my babies, I made a decision according to what was best at the time. Did I experience guilt when I chose to formula feed? Yes! Did I sometimes doubt my choice to breastfeed and want to give up? Yes, yes and more yes. It’s not easy, being a mother. Making decisions that are hard…especially with so many voices around you trying to tell you what is best. What you need to do.

This post tells the story of my feeding experiences with each of my children. A window veiw of the subject. Because there is much to say and much I could say, but I’ve chosen to narrow it down.

My journey with each child was unique. One was breastfed, then had supplementation, then was exclusively formula fed. The other child was exclusively breastfed, then made the transition to pumped breastmilk.

I hope to encourage both the moms who have chosen formula and the ones that have chosen to breastfeed. This post also goes out to the mothers who supplement and who pump exclusively or partially. You are all important and loved!

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The Baby Stories

J was my first baby. My pregnancy with him was remarkably easy. I was active and young(er) and fairly carefree. I thought that breastfeeding would be easy and natural. Though I was somewhat educated on the topic, but it was perhaps not enough for me. There were many factors that influenced my feeding choice. His birth was somewhat difficult. Adding the task of breastfeeding to my recovery was very hard for me. So when he was a few days old, I began supplementing. When he was about 1 week old, I quit breastfeeding entirely. I felt like a failure but there were 2 people at the hospital whose words stuck with me. Breastfeeding was pushed but these people, they told me not to feel bad. Not to feel guilty. I had done enough and I was not a bad mother for choosing this.

My daughter L was a different story entirely. My pregnancy with her had its challenges. I had the adventurous task of raising a toddler…think walrus chasing after a butterfly. Then I got diagnised with SPD (also called Pelvic Girdle Pain). The pain was thankfully made bearable with the aid of a pregnancy girdle. However…her birth was so different. It was not a difficult birth. And I was incredibly suprised that it happed the way it did. Because of this, my decision to breastfeed got some positive reinforcement. This along with my research, advice, prior experience and good support system made it easier for us to continue breastfeeding.

Positive Aspects

(In my experience, these are all things that I found to be true.)

With formula, there is…

  • more personal space
  • less emotional issues
  • more freedom with diet
  • the ability to feed baby anywhere
  • the fact that the husband/significant other can help
  • no issues related to breast tenderness and leakage

With breastfeeding, there is…

  • more opportunities for bonding
  • more time for downtime and rest
  • the option to feed baby while lying down, half asleep!
  • the assurance that milk will be warm, sterile and fresh.
  • the beauty that your milk is tailor-made for your baby (and changes daily and hourly too!)

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This and That

With formula there was no biting…but with BF, the biting wasn’t often (thankfully).

With formula, I could eat whatever I wanted…but with BF I became more conscious of my diet and ate healthier.

With formula, my husband could help feed…but with BF he could still help by bringing me things I needed and by helping me with J.

With formula, I experienced much less soreness, engorgement, and leakage…but with BF I still dealt with these issues, yet they lessened over time.

With BF I had lots of beneficial down time when L nursed…but with formula I felt I had greater freedom to feed J wherever I needed to.

With BF there was no “gear” I had to carry around (aside from my breast pump on occasion)…but with formula at least I knew J would be fed, even if I was away from him.

With BF we saved money in a few ways…less gear, yes, but also less milk was wasted. There were times when I misjudged J’s hunger or a bottle got left out, etc.)

And I wonder…would it have been any easier to get up and chase down my toddler if L was bottle fed? Any insight to add? I just remember how hard it was to do anything but just sit while I nursed. Ask me about the time I changed J’s diaper with one foot and one hand. Haha…oh the fun.

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So in the end, you can rest in the fact that your baby will thrive on whatever you have and whatever you are comfortable with. Because breastmilk may be good, but formula is good too. Because babies are hungry. And either option is nourishing. Do not feel bad about your decision.

Either way, either decision, method, or combination thereof you make, you have still proven to be a good mom.

These are my observations and experiences with formula and breastfeeding. So many factors go into the choice that is made. People may give you flak and judge you for your choice. But you are the only one who can decide what the best choice is. It may be breastmilk. Or pumped breastmilk. Formula. Or supplementation. Or any combination of these. But whichever you choose, be it born of necessity or preference, remember that it is enough. You are enough. You are nurturing your child and that is all that matters!

~Rachel