“Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, here’s what I wish I would have known…”
We asked Mama’s Bump Squad 2.0 this question and the wisdom shared was powerful. What we’ve witnessed is that motherhood creates a sisterhood. This is a community that shares support, wisdom and love as we embrace each other along the way.
We’re here to #HelpAMotherOut.
Postpartum is beautiful, but (spoiler alert) it’s also really, really hard. Some of the hardest challenges you face might be during the same time you’re falling deeply in love with your newborn baby. We do not want to scare you, especially if you’re a first time mama, but let’s be real, these are things we wish we would have known about.
You just grew and birthed a baby and a placenta! That placenta left an internal wound the size of a dinner plate. Your lady-bits are recovering and maybe a belly-birth scar too. Mama, you deserve a plan that honors you during this sacred, and often overlooked, time of healing. Your physical, mental and emotional well-being depend on it.
This period of Lying-In looks different for each of us. Here are some suggestions from our Bump Squad, in case no one’s told you yet...
It’s ok to ask for help. This was shouted loud and clear from our Bump Squad. It seems there is a stigma that you’re less than capable if you ask for help. On the contrary, asking for help is a sign of strength. You’re not meant to do this alone, mama. If you don’t have family lined up to help, a postpartum doula is a wonderful option. Asking around your neighborhood to hire a mother’s helper, someone who can play with older children while you are still in the house, can give you some extra time to recover. This takes planning, but It. Is. Worth. It. Tarah offers a different perspective saying, “it's okay to say no to visitors or "help" that isn't really helpful when you are trying to just rest and recover.” Take note of what you need most and do what works for you and your family.
“Delegate more”, says Sarah, and we completely agree. Katie adds, “It’s ok to admit that I can’t always do it all on my own.” Have confidence in your voice, mama. Don’t be afraid to assign tasks and chores to anyone who offers their help or comes to visit. “This time around, I’ll ask my partner for more help, without feeling guilty.” - Kayawna
Limit guests immediately after delivery. Courtney says “I remember feeling obligated to entertain when I should have been resting/recovering”. Katie adds, “I didn’t know just how tough my recovery would be”. As much as everyone wants to meet the new baby and shower mama with love, it’s tiring. Keep guests at a minimum in those early days or weeks.
Freezer meals are a huge help to take the stress out of “what’s for dinner”. Kayawna says “I wish I would’ve known the importance of meal prepping the first time around”. Freezing soups, slow-cooker meals, quiches, muffins can give you weeks of meals which equals, more time in bed. When organized in a sensible way, meal trains from family and friends can also be helpful. Just be sure to either have someone else receive the meal, or be ok with keeping the visit brief. Sarah has felt saying “no to meal trains” is best for her.Even though it’s an act of love, it can be overwhelming as the new mom feels the need to “entertain” these visitors.
“REST is your primary job post-delivery. "It’s basically impossible to be “lazy” as a new mother.” – Emily “Not only is it ok to “check out” for a bit, it’s necessary. For myself and baby too.” – Emilia. Misty went through a traumatic postpartum healing process. From that experience, she learned the importance of trusting her instincts and having confidence in her voice to speak up when something felt wrong. She also adds, “If only I had known to do a warm sitz bath. It would draw out the infection naturally and would speed the recovery to heal the skin.”Give yourself permission to rest. Postpartum is a long recovery for some women, it lasts much longer than that 6-8 week mark. Don’t put any time limit or expectations on yourself. Rest is always best.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety is real. “Instead of running from postpartum anxiety and depression for a year, you should go to a counselor and work through it.” – Sarah. PPD and PPA can even show up within the first year, not always within the first few weeks/months. You are not alone. You do not have to suffer in silence. Reach out to a friend, family member or professional to help you receive the proper care. “It is important to speak up when you are struggling and need help. You should never feel ashamed or less than if you need help or just a shoulder to cry on.” – Courtney
Breastfeeding: educate yourself. – “With my first, I was under the impression that you put baby to the breast and they would nurse with no issues. In my case, I was so wrong and didn't have a clue. I ended up with mastitis and quit trying to breastfeed after a month. When baby number 3 was conceived, I spent a lot of time reading up on breastfeeding, watching videos, and taking a class to better educate myself. I also made sure to have a list of resources to reach out to in the event of needing help.” – Courtney. When Misty found herself back in the Emergency Room at 2 weeks postpartum, “If only I had known to bring my newborn and go back to L&D, I wouldn’t have been away from my baby for days, which caused my milk to slow down and almost stop due to lack of assistance."
Be patient. “I wish I had known that recovering properly and retraining your body is more important than getting back to the gym.” – Tarah. Let go of any expectations you have for your timeline of healing. Trying to rush our recovery along can put us at risk for doing further damage, setting us back for an even longer healing period. Have patience and trust in your body as it heals at your own pace.
These suggestions are given with love from our Bump Squad to you. Earth Mama wants to make sure that your top priority, as you prepare for baby, includes planning for your own care, more than coordinated nursery décor. Consider what might resonate with you and your family and please keep yourself at the top of the list.
One final message from Emily, “So many times we have an incorrect definition of what it is to be “productive”. And, lying-in feels so unnatural to us because society says we should be busy and exhausted and it’s a luxury to enjoy this time. FALSE. One of the best things a newborn brings is the demand for us to slow down. Rest. Recover. It’s hard and necessary to ask for what you need- for some that is visitors and casseroles, for others that is space and quiet.”
We’re rooting for you, always.