1. Taking a Long, Hot Shower
We are so blessed with indoor plumbing and running, hot water in this country! Most of the time, we don't even give it a second thought (or at least, I know I don't). That long, hot shower feels especially good after you've just spent hours (or maybe even days?) in labor. That first shower after labor is amazing, even though your body still feels weak from what you've just been through. Since getting a good shower in becomes few and far between as you're caring for the needs of your newborn, when you do finally get to enjoy a hot shower, the feeling is glorious! Or, if you're like me, and you have not only a newborn but also a toddler, it's an amazing feeling to be able to jump in the shower without either of your kids vying for your attention just outside the curtain. When my husband watches the kids so I can get some much-needed self-care in... man, what a wonderful feeling! So, my advice is to have a family member or trusted friend watch your newborn for a little bit, or put him/her in a vibrating seat on the floor of the bathroom. Then, take a long, relaxing shower and do your hair and makeup. You will feel amazing, just by taking the time to take care of yourself! It may not happen every day, and that's okay. Trust me, you have a newborn so you most likely won't have the time to get all gussied up every day. But taking the time to do so every couple of days totally makes you feel more human and just more yourself (plus, it's only good hygiene as well ;)).
2. Drinking Your Morning Cup of Coffee
Studies show that a small amount of caffeine every day does not affect breastfeeding, so it is generally OK to have your morning cup of coffee. Thank the good Lord, because without it, I'm not sure how many of us would still be functioning! Drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning, after waking up several times during the night with your new baby, feels amazing. I think just hearing the coffee dripping into the pot actually starts the process of waking me up! My body somehow kicks into gear when I hear that drip, drip, drip! Just knowing that help is on the way when you can barely keep your eyes open is so amazing. In fact, the only word I can think for it is AMAZING because... mom brain...cannot think of words... must keep drinking COFFEE!
3. Nursing Your Baby to Sleep
There's something so beautiful about nursing your newborn to sleep. The way he or she is comforted by your touch and satisfied by the nourishment your body is able to provide is a miraculous thing. As that precious, tiny human falls asleep on you, you breathe a joyful sigh. Yes, your body is exhausted from all the sleepless nights, but you're also in awe of this fantastic thing called motherhood! Your body is producing the bonding hormone oxytocin, which leaves you feeling wonderful. Your baby is the most special, gorgeous human on the planet and they are all yours! Plus, that little "milk-drunk" face is just so darn cute! Even if the crying does start again a few minutes later... it's totally worth it.
4. Taking a Nap or Going to Bed Early
When you're a new mom, everyone tells you "sleep when the baby sleeps," and it's good advice, but it's hard to follow. As many of us know from experience, when the baby sleeps, your mind starts racing with thoughts of all the things you could be doing, because there are literally so many options... You could take a shower (probably much-needed), catch up on some reading, do the dishes or laundry, vacuum (no, scratch that, it might wake up baby), clean the bathroom, cook dinner, or just grab a snack really quick because goodness knows its hard enough to get some food and water into yourself when you're caring for that little newbie. I know it's tough to take a nap when there are so many other things you could be doing, and you feel like they're pressing and need to be done. I know the feeling. Trust me, sometimes you really do need to listen to your body's cues and take that nap! You'll feel so refreshed and rejuvenated when you wake up, and you'll have more energy to get everything else done while your baby has some time in their swing (babywearing is a great option as well!).
If your baby falls asleep early, or if you have a spouse or family member who can watch the baby for a while, consider going to bed early sometimes as well. Getting your sleep is not just about caring for yourself, it also helps you to be the best version of yourself for your family... so it's important for everyone! Don't worry if you can't take a nap or go to bed early every single day. But when you have opportunities to do so, try to take them.
5. When Your Baby Smiles for the First Time
Seeing your little one smile for the first time is so heart-warming! My firstborn didn't smile for a few months, but my second-born smiled while we were pulling away from the hospital, on his very first car ride to go home! It was awesome, and I couldn't believe it. Although I was dead tired from the labor and delivery, and the sleepless night that followed in the hospital, seeing that precious grin made it all worthwhile.
6. Going for a Walk
There's something about sitting inside all day that starts to bum me out after a few days. If you're not on bedrest and can physically do so, getting outside for a walk can be so refreshing. Nature has a way of rejuvenating us like nothing else! If you can put your baby in a stroller or baby carrier and get outdoors at least once a day, or every couple of days, it will really bless your soul and keep the baby blues at bay. I put my newborn in his baby carrier and my toddler in his push-car, and we go for a walk to see "his cactus", a.k.a. the neighbor's cactus plants that he really loves! We've also walked to the grocery store and back on a couple of occasions. Be careful that you don't walk too far when you're still recovering, as you will have to walk back also and you don't want to overdo it. If you can't go on long walks just yet, simply sitting on your porch or balcony and drinking your coffee in the morning can also have the same effect. The key is to get some sunshine and experience the fresh air of the outdoors as much as you can! Taking your baby outside also has the added benefit of showing him or her the difference between daytime/nighttime and establishing their sleep cycle.
7. Getting a Coffee in the Drive-Thru
OK, I know this is the second time I'm mentioning coffee in this blog post, but it's true... when you're a mom, you suddenly appreciate both coffee and drive-thrus a million times more than you ever did before! Trust me, you'll be wishing everything was drive-thru! Sometimes it's just so nice to put the baby in their car seat and go through the Starbucks or Coffee Bean drive-thru for a little pick-me-up. My baby usually falls asleep (or stays asleep) in the car seat and gives me a chance to have a little downtime, while also getting out of the house and getting some sunshine and *gasp* interaction with other adults! So while saving money by drinking coffee at home is probably a good idea most of the time, it doesn't hurt to get out and get a special treat once in a while. If you're trying to limit your caffeine consumption, there are also plenty of non-caffeinated beverages that are just as tasty. Confession: I've also been known to pop over to Chick-fil-A sometimes as well.
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8. Alone Time with Hubby
It's super hard at first, but once you're more adjusted to life with a baby, getting those alone times in with the hubby again is so great. Whether you pump a bottle, leave the baby with a trusted sitter and go out to dinner, or baby is just sleeping a few feet away and you're watching a movie together, having that quality time is so vital. I know for myself, my anniversary with my husband is coming up at the end of December, and we're looking forward to (hopefully) being able to have a kid-free anniversary dinner. It's the little things that add up to more intimacy and a better marriage relationship, which is also such a benefit to your child (or children). Even if it's just you and your spouse taking the baby for a walk together or going shopping together, those quality times are so helpful and such a blessing to the soul!
9. Getting a Meal from Friends or Family
One of the most difficult things for a new mom (or mom who just had another baby) is thinking about what to cook for dinner. Getting all the ingredients, and actually having the time and energy to cook dinner, is also a struggle. That's why having a friend or family member who is willing to drop off a meal, or prepare dinner for you, is a HUGE help! I was blessed with wonderful parents, as well as a marvelous set of in-laws. My parents stayed with us for a week after the birth of both of my kids. My mom cooked several meals for us, and after that, my "mother-in-love" cooked several meals for us. My husband's aunt also brought us a meal, as did a couple of close friends. If you're part of a church or another group, they might organize a meal train for you as well. We were on a meal train with the birth of our first son, and it was great to have the help of friends from church who brought yummy, home-cooked meals. An added bonus of having friends or family cook or drop off a meal is that they can meet the baby (if they haven't already) or hold the baby for you so you can get something done, like put in a load of laundry, or take a shower (see #1!) It is so nice having the company sometimes, as well. It can be a great encouragement to visit with friends and family when you're in the throes of new motherhood. Just realize that your house doesn't have to look perfect when people are coming over; they're coming to help you and they know you just had a baby. They're not expecting to walk into a perfectly manicured museum or something! Also, remember that they get blessed by meeting your little one and all the joy a new baby brings, so embrace all the help you can get when it comes to receiving meals from friends and family.
10. Connecting with Other Moms
After you've had a baby, whether it's your first or your fifth, it's really encouraging to connect wit other moms. They've been there (or still are there!) and they know your struggles. They can relate and give you support and words of wisdom. Your hormones are all over the place after you've just given birth. It's a bit like how you felt when you were pregnant, only amplified. You're also extremely sleep-deprived, so that combination does a number on your body. Talking and visiting with other moms who understand how you feel can be so comforting. I recently went to the park with my neighbor, who is a mom of two kids. As our older children played together on the slides and swings, we talked about parenthood and she asked me how I was doing adjusting to two. Just the fact that someone cared enough to ask and lend a listening ear was such a blessing to me! It also encourages me because she's been there, and knows what an adjustment it can be. Talking with other moms at Bible study, or even connecting with them via social media, has been a great way to lift one another up and encourage one another. I'm also very close with my husband's cousin, who has two children who are around the same age as mine. Talking with her on the phone or shooting her a picture text or video, helps us connect and share both the joys and frustrations of motherhood! It's vital that you don't stay inside a bubble, even if you're only reaching out through your phone or computer for the first few weeks while your body is recovering from the labor and delivery. Once you are able to venture out, do take the opportunity to visit with other moms. We all need that sweet blessing of friendships with women who get what this crazy, wonderful, overwhelming-at-times, yet beautiful and rewarding, *motherhood thing* is all about!
What About You? What Helps You as a Postpartum Mom?
Is it taking a hot shower, or drinking that morning coffee? Is connecting with other moms most important?
Or is it sometimes else entirely?
Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.