Was six weeks enough for you to recover from the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth? It definitely wasn't for me. But it is what's considered “normal” and expected and the ultimate goal. Six weeks. 42 days. That’s it. Then, it’s time to be back to your old self, your old body, your old responsibilities.
Society has conditioned us to believe that pregnancy and childbirth is just another wave of adulthood. Something we should weather and press on through with a smile—no tears, no struggles. But according to a recent study conducted by Dr. Julie Wray of Salford University, “…it takes a year to recover from childbirth.”
A whole year!
Which is why, at 10 months postpartum, I still don’t feel 100 percent.
And that, fellow moms, is normal.
I’m not rare. I’m not weak. I’m like every other mom out there who gave birth this year. Because what I did— growing another human inside of me and then pushing them out—is nothing short of a miracle. And it takes time—lots and lots of time—to bounce back from such an experience.
It’s more than just being tired. It’s more than the mental weariness of caring for young children. In the year after birth, my body has completely changed from the inside out. My hormones have swung to and fro and they keep changing thanks to breastfeeding and now, the return of my period. Most of all, I just feel emotionally beat from being responsible for other living beings 24/7.
So this time around I’m taking tiny steps to give myself time to heal, physically and emotionally from childbirth with these simple steps:
Buy Paper Plates
It’s a small thing and a low cost. Having paper plates on hand reduces the amount of dishes and makes clean up faster and easier.
Plan Weekly Getaways
I’m not talking overnights or marathon shopping trips, I’m talking about grocery shopping alone or sitting for 30 minutes at a coffee shop. Our minds need pause and if your life is like mine, you can’t really get that at home.
Don’t sign up for the school bake sale, don’t participate in your annual garage sale, don’t host Thanksgiving at your house. Block out a year after your baby and only say "yes" to the absolute essentials.
Feed the Kids Chicken Nuggets
And by chicken nuggets, I mean, take out and simple meals like PB & J and canned chicken noodle soup. You don’t have to be the Pioneer Woman with a new baby and little children underfoot. McDonalds will do every now and again so lose the guilt and stop hiding the Happy Meal box from your mom friends.
A sane mom will outweigh any damage an extra episode or two will do.
Embrace Screen Time
I don’t care what the AAP says about screen time. There’s this thing called mental health and letting my big kids watch TV so I nurse my baby in quiet, or, *gasp* eat my lunch alone is well worth the sanity it gives. A sane mom will outweigh any damage an extra episode or two will do.
Wear Maternity Clothes
Do it! For as long as you want! Then take yourself to the mall and buy yourself a new pair of jeans that fit regardless of their proximity to your pre-baby size.
Say It Out Loud
Words are power. Say to yourself and others, “I had a baby ___ weeks/months ago, and I’m taking things slow, because my body is still healing and I’m adjusting to all the changes that have come my way recently”. Don’t pretend to be supermom, instead, be the mom who brings everyone’s reality to light. We’re all in this together and we’re each other’s best advocate.