Whenever you go out with your baby for a walk, you pass by coffee shops, pubs and restaurants; you look at the people inside -couples having lunch and friends having a laugh. You go to the park and look at young group of people sitting on a grass, having a picnic and sipping wine from plastic cups.
They all look so happy, carefree, just enjoying the moment.
And then you experience this weird feeling- flashback of your own memories with a mix of sadness and maybe even jealousy. You’re guessing you’ll never going to feel like they do, like you used to feel yourself before you had your baby.
You love your baby like nothing else in this world but…
You think of all the boring staff you have to do when you get back home- cook dinner, feed your baby, do the laundry and clean the house. By the end of the day you start to feel overwhelmed, tired of your routine, sick of the fact that tomorrow you have to wake up and be the prefect housewife and mother all over again.
Some call it baby blues, I like to call it postpartum hardships. And it doesn’t have to last only for a couple of weeks, it can actually lasts for months.
Postpartum period is a definitely a vast and complicated topic to discuss. Everyone says having kids changes your life but they don’t really warn you how difficult it is to get used to this new lifestyle or how to cope with it (and the crazy hormones don’t help, do they).
You’re asking yourself: how long it’s going to take before I start to feel like the ‘old’ me? Am I ever gonna feel like the old me?
That’s why it is not uncommon to fall into postpartum depression if you don’t find answers to these questions.
In this post I’ll try to give you some perspective on how to feel like yourself after having a baby.
Be kind to yourself
May sounds like a cliche but it’s real. You have to realize your body went through massive changes while you were pregnant and did something miraculous: gave birth to a tiny human! And now you have to do something even more heroic- look after that tiny human, keep him safe and healthy (ultimately alive).
I mean, we did not even have a break after bringing a child into this world (and that was a hard, almost 40 hour job for me!).
So give yourself some slack and be kind to yourself, lower your expectations- you can’t clean and cook as much, you won’t look like a top model until you get some more sleep, you may not be willing to have sex right now because you’re simply tired. And it’s all okay, it’s all normal so don’t push yourself to do anything you don’t feel like.
Accept the new you
You’re looking on Instagram or a glossy magazine and see women (probably personal trainers for a living) with a perfect body few weeks after giving birth. And you feel jealous, maybe bad about the way you look.
Yes, you can lose weight after pregnancy but you need to be aware that all women are different and some changes are irreversible. The wider hips are here to stay and the skin on your belly might stay wobbly.
Your old self went to the Neverland! (ever watched Peter Pan?:P) So look in the mirror, smile to your reflection and accept what you see. It’s a new version of you and it’s beautiful!
Your personality is also in process of transformation- from a carefree spirit you’re becoming a responsible, worried mother.
Embrace this change and see it as a new chapter in your life.
Buy something new
There’s nothing to improve your mood like small shopping, am I right? Although obviously, it’s not a long-term solution, you can lift your spirits when buying something nice that fits your new figure.
Even if you’re going for a walk to the nearby park, instead of wearing the old pair of joggers, wear those new jeans !
For me, it was buying a new perfume that did the trick as I have a kind of incentive to take a shower, get dressed and smell nice, do you know what I mean?
No matter how ridiculous it sounds, buy whatever makes you want to get up in the morning, from a piece of jewellery to sexy lingerie.
Go out (by yourself)
What I mean by yourself is without your baby:) Going to a pub with your friends will help you to feel like yourself again; you will forget about your problems for a moment and listen to others! Just make sure you talk about anything else but your baby routine.
If it’s your first time leaving your little one with daddy, you might be worried and end up texting every 20 min to check up on them- it’s normal and understandable (maybe not so much for daddy).
Even if your mind is partially somewhere else, going out once in a while will only bring you benefits- you’ll come back home more relaxed, missing your family, feeling especially grateful there’s a tiny person waiting for you (plus your partner will appreciate you more, guaranteed!)
In fact, going out anywhere by yourself will benefit you, even if it means only going for a short walk or to a grocery shop. Having to spend all day long with a screaming baby takes a toll on our mental health so try to get some time for yourself at least every second day.
That means little ‘me’ time- just because you became a mother doesn’t mean you stopped being a woman. Book yourself a hairdresser or a beautician, get a relaxing massage or get your nails done- whatever you’ve been doing before you gave birth. You probably won’t have time to do it as often as before but at least try to pamper yourself like that once a month.
If you want to save money, you can arrange your own ‘home spa’- take a warm bath with candles (just don’t fall asleep!), put your face mask on and voila:)
Of course, choose the time when your baby’s already asleep. Or even better, tell your partner to take the baby out to a playground so you can have some peace and quiet.
Get a childcare
It’s often out of a question, but if you can afford and want a nanny, do it. If someone else can help you during the day, let’s say your mother or a friend, even better.
You can get some sleep when she’s taking your baby for a walk, eat lunch in peace or read a book. Whatever gives you some extra energy. As somebody said, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t forget about your partner
As you’ve probably noticed, having a baby also changes your married/couple life. You need to make sure your partner knows what you’re going through and ask for his support.
We put our babies first but don’t forget to spend some time with your man as well. If you can get a nanny, choose one evening per week (or realistically speaking: one per month) to go out for dinner, just the two of you. It would give you the desired time off and improve your relationship. And it would definitely make you feel like yourself again; preparing for a date and being on one is a whole process of flowing endorphins and other happy hormones!
Find a playgroup or sign up for a class
Since your life has changed you will have to change your environment too! If your friends don’t have babies yet, the best way for you to find new friends is to attend local play sessions or sign up for, let’s say, activity class for mums and babies. Over there you’re going to meet like-minded women who know exactly what you’re feeling and they can give you the mental support you need.
These things helped me tremendously to feel like myself again. It took me some time to understand that, since I have a new body and a new mind, I will never really feel like my ‘old’ self; that person is gone and I needed to redefine the person I became: a strong, confident woman with a heart bigger than ever before.
Acceptance of the new life I’ve been given followed with a great appreciation.
When shall I be worried about having a postpartum depression?
Although the baby blues is said to last about 6 weeks it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel a bit confused and out-of- place for longer period of time.
For some women becoming a mother is effortless and comes to them naturally, for some it may take months before they get used to the new lifestyle.
Nevertheless, if you’re feeling down and angry very often since your baby has been born, you cry for most of the days of the week, you don’t have appetite and feel distant towards your partner, friends and family- it should be a red light for you. It can be a postpartum depression so don’t ignore those signs and call your GP as soon as possible (it’s also useful to know that in some cases, symptoms of PPD may appear months after giving birth).
So guys, remember, being a mother is a beautiful journey and it’s only just began. Of course, it is hard at the beginning but trust me when I say: it gets easier with time. With every month s/he grows and every milestone your baby reaches, you can be proud and say: I’m so lucky, I’m so blessed. And we all truly are.
Are you still in a transition period or you’re already beginning to feel like yourself again? What are your tricks that helped you out in this difficult process? Let us know in the comments:)
Take care of yourself mamas!