A new life is introduced to this world, your heart opens up like you never knew it could and all of a sudden, you have a bigger purpose.
Your body has accomplished the most impressive physical task it is capable of: growing a baby and then getting that baby out of you. It is more significant than any workout or any surgery you will ever undergo.
You are forced to rebuild from the ground up and your body will no longer get away with any dysfunction. It’s an opportunity to reset and rebuild, to do it all over again but in the right way this time.
And with that comes minimal sleep, nutritional deficits, hormonal imbalances and lots of lifting. In other words, it is the most inopportune time to rest, replenish and rebuild.
It’s easy to get caught up in the frustration of all of this. Your body is telling you it needs to sleep and lie down, yet a screaming baby has a totally different agenda and unfortunately, the baby’s needs have to be placed before yours. It’s common to feel like you can’t do anything right, that you are unable to do what you should be doing and even when you manage to do something, you feel like you aren’t doing it all that well.
Here are my recommendations for navigating the Postpartum Dilemma:
Often times postpartum is more about surviving and less about thriving. You must meet the needs of your baby and in the beginning, it is often at the sacrifice of your own needs. Its just the way it is. So do what you have to do, when you have to do it and you should feel really good about doing so. You are keeping a baby alive. That’s a big deal.
There is already a huge demand on you in making sure that kid is fed, changed and rested. Don’t do more than that. Ask for help or pay for help. DO NOT touch those dishes.
There are more restful ways of doing things even if it doesn’t look like what you would consider rest. For example, lie down while playing with your baby instead of sitting, sit to rock baby instead of standing, lie down while baby naps instead of being out on a walk or baby-wearing, feed the baby while lying down. Even if you aren’t sleeping, you can still be resting your body while accomplishing some of the have-tos.
Once your body has gotten ample rest, you will feel the need to move and the desire to strengthen. The cool part is that you have built in strength training throughout your entire day AND your weight gets heavier every day too! This is when you focus on your posture and your breath to make the diaper changes, carseat transfers, crib transfers and walks your strength training. These same demands have the potential of depleting your body even further but its all about how you do them. If you pay attention to form and do them with intention, they become strength builders that only contribute to you feeling better and stronger!
You will often feel like you fail at all the things on most days. Recovering physically while transitioning into parenthood is straight up hard. But our self talk can be like twisting the knife when it involves shame, blame and guilt. So be kind to yourself. You are doing your best. And that is enough. You are enough. You are doing great. Remind yourself of that every minute of everyday.
This isn’t forever. You will sleep a full night again. The postpartum dilemma is temporary and your rehab potential will be waiting for you when you have the ability to take it on. Just make sure you watch for that door opening because it can be easy to fall into the sacrificial parenting habits and never take back self-care simply because you aren’t used to being able to do so. It’s never too late to start but you have to make sure you do.