Having a baby is many things. Most of them - almost all of them - are good. You'll spend most of the early days just staring at the new little person in awe and wonder. You have the chance to raise a kid who'll make you proud in countless ways. You have someone to share your wisdom and also your weirdness with. As we say, having a baby is almost all upside.
But we are human, and that means to some extent we are glass-half-empty creatures. And in among all the great things, it is hard not to have half a mind on the things that we aren't so happy about. Although the trade-off is more than worth it, in the aftermath of having a child you will be aware of just how much the process has taken out of you. You've got a bouncing baby, and now it's time to bounce back.
If you're expecting your first child, you could be forgiven for some trepidation on a number of fronts. Not least of these is the way pregnancy is portrayed in the movies. We see a lot of blissful smiles from expectant mothers who seem to live in a cornfield with a permanent sunset over their shoulders. And if you're currently experiencing pregnancy, you might wonder where that portrayal came from.
Being pregnant, and giving birth, are not easy. They say nothing worth having comes easy, and motherhood is perhaps the best example of that. So the first thing to bear in mind is that it's entirely normal to feel exhausted, worried, moody and confused. Often all four at the same time. You have been pulled in countless directions for forty weeks, and that's not about to stop. But you can get back on the front foot.
The First Thing To Do Is Recover
The media is full of dynamic new mothers who have their first kid, and seemingly after a weekend's rest are back on their feet. It's enough to make anyone feel like they don't measure up. And the reason you may feel that way is that it's an unrealistic expectation. What you have been through in the last week, and the several months before it, is a series of incredible stresses and strains.
You're entitled to be waited on, hand and foot, for as long as you're feeling the after-effects of pregnancy. Mentally, emotionally, and physically you've been through the mill. Those dynamic new mothers will often have a fleet of nannies and helpers doing the footwork. You don't, so don't expect to be grinning broadly and wearing white right away.
Getting Back To Normal
As soon as you feel ready, it is time to phase in the things you did before the pregnancy. Getting back to your routine is important for various reasons, not least of which is the fact that you'll crave normality. You don't have to get back to work - the early months are important in terms of bonding with the baby. But doing things around the house and running errands again can be beneficial.
You'll also want to look at getting back in balance physically. Pregnancy, and childbirth, take a lot out of you and leave their toll. You've been supporting another life inside you for some time. Chances are you're now feeling quite depleted in terms of nutrients, so it is essential that you eat well and help your body recover.
It won't have escaped you - because it's the focus of so many features in magazines and on TV - that there is the question of baby weight. People expect nursing mothers to be carrying a bit of weight. Sooner or later you'll want to lose that, and there are numerous ways to do it properly. Don't do it by depriving yourself - check out this Tone It Up review for some helpful advice on weight loss that works for you.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While you are pregnant, you will - hopefully - get used to people making allowances for you. Often this can even get annoying, as people can try to help in the wrong way. You haven't become a helpless child overnight, but you'll start to feel like people see you that way. And then, when you've had your baby, you'd be amazed how quickly some people snap back to expecting you to be as you were pre-pregnancy.
It's often after you've given birth that you'll be looking for help more than ever. Although postpartum depression doesn't happen to all new mothers, it's common enough. You'll need people to provide a listening ear, to do tasks you're still not ready to do and to provide a safety net when you're getting back on your feet.
Be clear about the fact that your involvement with doctors and hospitals does not end with childbirth. You'll have post-natal check-ups for the baby and you alike. During this time there is no question too stupid to ask the professionals. One quirk of pregnancy, even after the birth, is that hormonal changes and lack of sleep can cloud your thinking. So double-checking things with doctors is a very wise move.
Being a new mother is a challenge, but one well worth facing. You've got someone to fend for, and that parental feeling will never leave you. It provides a very strong boost to the enthusiasm that will otherwise be hard to come by early on. Get good friends around you and take the help on offer from your family. Even if it comes with a side order of lectures and judgment every once in a while, it's valuable.
But perhaps the most important thing you can do as you recover from childbirth is going at your own pace. People might expect you to be back at work as soon as possible, or to remain behind closed doors for months. There is no perfect schedule for this, just the one that works for you. It's for other people to understand this rather than impose their impressions on your experience.