Your whole pregnancy, you were looking forward to that moment when you became a parent. Whether your pregnancy was fantastic or awful, whether you were excited or terrified, you knew you were going to be a mom. Maybe you had visions of matching "mommy and me" outfits or soft baby cheeks snuggled against you sleeping. Or perhaps you envisioned breaking out that top-of-the-line jogging stroller and getting back to your old routine, now with a few more stops for others to admire your sweet bundle.
Then your baby arrived.
And postpartum looked nothing like a Johnson & Johnson commercial.
Spit up down your bra. Diaper explosions. Your hair started to fall out. And now you've got night sweats.
Well, no one really talks about what the postpartum period looks like if we are being entirely realistic, and that sets a lot of new parents up for frustration and disappointment in those early weeks and months. The truth is that little babies may just eat, sleep, and poop, but they do it a lot. And your body won't just bounce back. Even if you walk out of the hospital wearing your pre-pregnancy jeans (and I wouldn't count on that), your body just grew a whole other human being and it is going to need some recovery time and some TLC. To say nothing of the interrupted sleep and new schedule you have waiting for you at home.
So how do you get your groove back?
1. Go shopping
While it is tempting to stay in maternity pants forever, and we don't blame you if you do (jeans + yoga pants is the ultimate win), try getting a few pairs of pants that fit and are flattering for your postpartum body. Tops that allow easy access if you are breastfeeding, but that don't look like maternity and nursing wear is another way to feel more like yourself. But waiting until your pre-pregnancy clothes fit again might be a long and frustrating wait, and they might never fit the same way they used to. Dress the body you have, not the body you want.
2. Pamper yourself
OK, so a week at that all-inclusive destination spa you have been eyeing might be out of the cards right now, but that doesn't mean you can't get a little pampering in. A haircut, pedicure or massage might be just what you need. And while some pampering might be easier to get out of the house, if that isn't a possibility there are plenty of massage and spa services that do home visits. Perfect for nap time.
3. Mind over matter
Maternity leave is a great time to explore an old passion or discover a new one. Take a pottery class, learn to knit, join a book club, or attend a museum lecture series. It is easy to get into a routine with your baby and forget all of the things that make you, you, but neglecting yourself and your mind will eventually make you feel sluggish and isolated. Getting out to do something that stimulates you as a person, rather than your baby, is a great way to keep yourself feeling sharp and learn something new.
4. Give the girls a lift
Nursing or not, chances are your breasts have changed. Your old bras probably don't fit anymore, and if they do, they might not be as amazing as they used to be. Or you are like the vast majority of women and your bra never fit properly in the first place! Now is a perfect time to go and get a professional bra fitting at a great lingerie store. The girls have been through a lot, they deserve some really great support.
5. Down under
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy is a rapidly growing field, and for good reason. Even the healthiest pregnancy, with the easiest birth, will cause stress to your pelvic floor muscles. Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist in the first few months postpartum will help to prevent trouble down the road. And might help you with the thing most women worry about the most postpartum....
6. That groove...
Yup, I'm going there. Sex after having a baby. It can be, and is, an article unto itself, but it is the groove many new parents worry about the most. Remember to go slow, use lube, and have fun. It is OK if you are not ready to dive right in, it may take weeks, or even months, before you are ready to get your feet wet. And things may have changed down under, so don't be afraid to try new things and experiment. Just be quick, babies have uncanny timing!
Remember that you are more than just a parent, you are a person too. If you keep that in the front of your mind, you will be back to feeling like yourself in no time.
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