I know mine didn’t and to make matters worse, my breastfeeding journey was emotionally tumultuous. Taking care of yourself, your baby, your marriage, and your household is a lot to manage. Remember that you’re just one person, Mama! It’s not realistic to expect to be able to “do it all”. Being a mom is challenging and amazing. It takes time to transition into a new role. When you let go of your need for perfection, you make room to grow.
So how do you let go of mom guilt when your 4th trimester isn’t going according to your plan?
1. Accept Help
If someone offers to help you do something, accept it! They may not complete chores exactly the way you would, but they have your best interest at heart. Whether it’s holding the baby for 30 minutes so you can shower, or bringing over dinner so you don’t have to pull something out of the freezer, a little help goes a long way in those first 40 days after birth. Oh, and when you need help, throw aside your pride and ask for it! It’s hard to remember that the people we love can’t read our minds. It is so hard to admit that you can’t do it alone but you shouldn’t have to.
2. Advocate for your health
If you have a feeling something isn’t normal, pick up the phone and call the nurse or drop a message in your patient portal. Moms are sent home with a one-page long list of things to look out for but chances are you’ll have some weird symptoms after birth that you’re not sure how to address. It’s best to seek out medical advice and not turn to Dr. Google. Your healthcare providers are paid to be there for you and they do not mind! Don’t ever feel like you’re nagging. Your health is so important!
3. Stop watching the clock
There is so much conflicting advice from our doctors and peers regarding scheduling. It’s so easy to become obsessed with needing to feed your baby every three hours on the dot or making sure they don’t have a nap longer than one hour during the daytime. Let that go! Every baby and family is different. Hone in on your daily rhythms instead of watching the clock.
4. Get Outside Your Head
It’s easy to get stuck in negative thoughts when your baby isn’t sleeping or has been crying for hours. It’s okay to have unpleasant thoughts. It doesn’t mean you have to react to them. Find someone to talk to whether that means calling another mom friend or booking an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Take a walk outside! You’d be surprised how much a simple change of scenery can turn around your mood. Save a few positive affirmations to a Pinterest board that you can go back to when you need a few words of encouragement. You’re doing a great job, Mama. You’ve got this!
5. Turn Off Your Phone
Unfortunately, the Internet can be a comparison trap. If you’re not comfortable unfollowing accounts that make you feel less than perfect or need a break from the mom-shaming that’s so rampant in today’s society, turn your phone off! A digital detox can help redefine your goals and motivations. Plus, it’ll give you a chance to focus on bonding with your baby without any distractions.
6. Make Time For the Things You Love
It’s easy to lose yourself in the beginning. Try to stay true to the “old” you by engaging in your old hobbies. Meet up for brunch with friends. Write a postcard. Practice meditation. You should indulge in a bit of self-care. Self-care doesn’t have to be a 10-step skincare routine. It could be a nourishing meal or a warm shower. Your needs are important and you should never feel guilty for acknowledging the things that make you feel whole.
7. Remember Everything is a Phase
Babies grow at an exponential rate in the first year and you’ll be missing those sleepless nights filled with coos, hiccups, and baby grunts before you know it! You’ll get tired of hearing every mom say it, but even the tough times are just a phase. The most challenging part of motherhood is accepting that you’ll need to be flexible enough to adapt to each stage. Luckily for you, each stage comes with new rewards as your baby learns new skills that are sure to keep you in a constant state of awe.
It’s okay if some days you’re surviving not thriving. Ultimately, you know what’s best for yourself and your baby. Eventually, you’ll find the routine that works for you and learn not to feel guilty about it. You’ve got a whole team of moms cheering you on!