For the entire time a baby resides inside his mother, moms-to-be are to be handled with care. Monthly doctor appointments turn weekly as the delivery date grows nearer to make sure things are going smoothly. Many stores have parking spots reserved exclusively for expectant mothers. Pregnant women are told not to lift heavy things, ride roller coasters, eat deli meat and the list goes on and on.
Then the baby arrives and suddenly the mother is no longer the priority. Unless something went wrong during delivery, most medical professionals won't ask to see mom again until her six week checkup.
Women leave the hospital exhausted and depleted with a helpless little creature in tow. The lucky ones have help and support from partners, family and friends; many have little to no support at all.
Whatever your situation, the arrival of a baby is always an adjustment and never easy. Hang in there. Things will get better. In the mean time, here are five ways to bounce back in style.
1. Respect yourself
Pay homage to the amazing human that you are. You just created a life and brought it into the world. You performed a miracle. Your body needs time to heal and recover. Your emotions are all over the place and that is okay. Respect the common saying that it takes nine months to get a baby to full term and it will take nine months or more for your body and mind to resettle into your new identity as a mother. It's okay to say you don't want visitors or you need a nap. Allow yourself the time and space you need. If others aren't respecting your need to recover, ask them nicely to shape up or ship out.
2. Go easy on yourself
It is inevitable that a magazine cover celebrity or a sister-in-law or a next door neighbor will be boasting a size 2 days or weeks after giving birth. If this is you, wonderful! If not, you are one of the 99.9% that don't have a six pack the second your baby is out. Social media will undoubtedly portray a few new moms looking flawless in spotless homes as they snuggle their little ones and cause you to wonder why you are lacking. This is, once again, not reality for the vast majority. If your house isn't clean, if you didn't take a shower yesterday or the day before that, that's normal. Don't compare yourself to others. Be proud of yourself for keeping your new helpless little human alive and don't sweat the rest.
For the first six weeks after giving birth, don't even think about losing weight. Put the scale in the basement and only look in the mirror to remind yourself what a beautiful momma you are. Drink plenty of water, do your best to eat healthy, sleep whenever you can and leave the rest for another day. Babies need full-time care. They take a lot of energy. You need to take care of yourself so you have the strength you need to take care of your baby. The house cleaning and the laundry and the bikini can wait. You are in the fourth trimester and the best thing you can do is love your little one while keeping yourself happy and healthy.
Every question you have about what to do and how to do it when it comes to baby-rearing has thousands of contradictory pieces of advice online. Google is your worst enemy when it comes to being a mom. You know better than anyone else what is best for your little one. Many well-meaning friends and family members will be more than happy to offer you advice. Smile, nod and do what you want. The innate ability to know what is best for your babe is one of the many wonderful things that come along with being a mother. Of course there will be times you make mistakes or wonder what the right thing is to do. When in doubt, ask those you trust for advice and find a pediatrician whose opinion you value. Just remember to trust yourself and that mother's intuition is a powerful tool you now possess.
5. Treat yourself
Find something to do every day that is just for you. This could be anything from watching your favorite show to taking a walk in the beautiful morning or listening to your favorite song. You are giving all of yourself to your bundle of joy and it's important that you don't forget you have needs too. If possible, find someone to take over for you for a little bit while you take a bath or go browse the shelves of Target. Treating yourself right will make you a happier, healthier mom.