Having a baby is no small task. Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and your mind, often wearing down your self-esteem and sense of stability (not to mention your basic bodily functions).
We get it. It’s not always pretty. And that’s okay.
The first step towards getting back your groove postpartum is to accept where you are right now—because it’s a great place to be. Your baby was born, and now it’s time to reclaim your body.
1. Take it one step at a time.
You might be tempted to take on all the advice we’re about to give you overnight. Do yourself (and your newborn baby) a favor, and don’t even think about it. Postpartum recovery, like your pregnancy, will take time.
Along the way, be kind to yourself, celebrate even the smallest amount of progress, and remember that healing takes time.
Treat every day that passes as a win—and don’t be too hard on yourself.
2. Make sleep a priority.
After birth, your new baby can become your whole world. While that can be a beautiful thing, one baby isn’t just one priority. Your baby’s needs will crowd your to-do list, and you might find that your needs take a backseat.
Your health matters, too.
So, make getting quality sleep a priority. On nights when you can’t get a full eight hours in, schedule daytime naps. Or enlist a partner, friend, or family member to take the night shift for you.
If you find falling asleep difficult, foster a mindfulness practice. Begin and end your day with meditation, and you’ll find that sleep will come. Try the Calm app for guided meditations for your mental health.
3. Become more active.
We get it. You feel exhausted, and the idea of exercise does not sound fun when you think about the amount of effort it takes just to stand up.
We’re not telling you to train for a marathon—just get your blood pumping and your body moving. Adding more physical activity into your daily routine will promote better sleep, a better mood, and higher energy levels.
So, discover post-natal yoga flows and gentle workout routines on YouTube or go for walks with your baby in tow. Be gentle and kind with your body as you rehabilitate after birth.
4. Foster healthy relationships.
During pregnancy and after birth, it’s normal to feel stressed out. Don’t let negative or depressive feelings separate you from the people you love the most.
Make it a point to connect (or reconnect) with your closest friends, partner(s), beloved family members, and community members. Spend time with people who will support you on your healing journey.
Isolation can negatively impact both your emotional and physical wellbeing, so be mindful of your tendencies to avoid socialization.
We’re not saying you have to attend that birthday party or say yes to every invitation. But don’t let your friendships wither away.
5. Don’t neglect your sexual health.
Considering everything that just happened down there, it’s okay if having penetrative sex is a repulsive thought to you. And in the spare moments you have between caring for your baby, time alone might sound much, much better than a romp in the sheets. However, your sexual matters, too. And promoting positive sexual practices can get you back to feeling your best after having a baby.
Postpartum sex can:
• promote healing by improving blood flow to your genitals
• strengthen your pelvic floor
• balance your hormones
• improve your mood
• reduce stress
• help you sleep
If sex is unintentionally painful, you should stop and try something else, and don’t try vaginal sex until at least 4-6 weeks after pregnancy.
Intimacy comes in many forms, and trying new things with your partner is a great way to feel connected to them, especially as you heal after birth.
• coregulation exercises where you silently look into each other’s eyes
• tantric massages
• naked cuddling sessions
6. Know when you need help—and ask when you want it.
A lot of people, including new moms, struggle to ask for help. You might feel like you should be able to do everything on your own—but the truth is that you shouldn’t have to.
Ask for help. Negotiate a situation with your partner that takes some of the weight off of your shoulders. Call your family members and ask them to visit you and help out.
Let your friends into your life, even if it feels unnatural at first.
You deserve help, and your baby deserves even more people in their life who love them.
7. Believe that you can and will recover.
As you recover, mindset is half the battle.
Pay attention to the negative thoughts that may cloud your mind—and work towards changing them for the better.
This looks like changing “I can’t do this” into “This is really difficult, and I’m doing the best I can.”
When “I’m never going to get better” turns into “I’m discouraged that my progress is slow, but I can remember that it is steady and it is there,” you’ll find that your negative emotions become much easier to manage.
You are strong. You are capable. And you are a great mom. You’ve got this!
For more information about Women’s Health, or If you’re looking for an OBGYN in the Cincinnati area, call us at 513-241-4774, or schedule your appointment.