Did you know that one of the top women’s health issues in the United States is their postpartum care? Most women struggle after having a baby, for some it’s physically, for some it’s mentally and emotionally.
And, just so we’re clear, we’re not talking about the struggles of being a new parent…that’s book worthy. We’re talking about the struggles that women themselves have after having a baby – what happens to them, with them, in them.
There are sooooooo many challenges after having a baby, and no matter how many “o”s I add it still can’t accurately portray the challenges new mothers face. When I stop and take a look at the research and the experiences of other women, and my own too, they usually fall into one of three categories:
- Your body. Whether you spent the entirety of your pregnancy indulging or watching every bite of what went into your body – most women are deeply unsatisfied with how they look after having a baby (shocker right?!). No matter how fit you were and are, it takes a while for your body to come back and this can be crushing for some. To make matters worse, you may feel like your body is on a stage after having a baby. During the birth of your baby is one thing, but the constant “let me look”s from doctors or the simple need for help with our physical challenges can make our dissatisfaction an even tougher pill to swallow. And if you happen to be breastfeeding it is just one more thing that can add to the frustration of how our body is, or isn’t, performing. Your new postpartum body has so many limitations – those that have been set for you and those that your body just hasn’t been able to handle yet. Your body has been through so much and while there is no quick solution to making yourself feel better when you look in the mirror – when you’re feeling bad, stop and take a minute to think about all that your body has done and is doing now. You just carried a baby for 9 months and brought that baby into the world. Now that baby wants nothing more than you. Every curve, every piece of saggy skin, every cut, tear and stitch – all they want is you.
- “The baby blues”. Your hormones after having a baby are all over the place. Right when you think you have control over your emotions, whoop – there they go again! You find yourself crying at the drop of the hat, losing it on whoever might be around and sometimes you might just be scared about how in control your emotions seem to be and how out of control you are.This is one hundred percent normal. BUT, and it’s a big but, there is so much we need to be aware of. If you feel truly out of control or your thoughts are that scary than it’s time to talk to you doctor. Especially if those feelings are lasting more than a few weeks after having the baby.
- Boundaries. Or lake there of. When you’re tired, emotional and caring for a little human we tend to let boundaries go out the window. We focus on our new role as parent (this is a good thing) and we try not to let the little things get to us. Without boundaries we will likely end up filled with aggravation, annoyance and stress and then, well…see #2.Be clear. Set boundaries – for you, for the baby and for your home. Take the help you need and don’t be shy about asking for it, but don’t be shy about setting guidelines and being specific. Do you want everyone to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before holding the baby? Then ask them to. Don’t want the dishes done by hand because you want everything on sanitized rinse in the dishwasher? Then say that the moment the dishes are being swept off the table. If you want something done, ask. People get it…well, most of them do and the ones who don’t chalk it up to the hormones and lack of sleep.
The postpartum life is complicated, but it’s all worth it. So, take care of yourself, ladies. You deserve it. You’re worth it!