A stomach that looks like a deflated balloon? Check
Feeling like a walking dairy cow? Check
Pain during unexpected letdowns? Check
Are dark circles worthy of Christian Bale in the movie The Machinist? Check Impossible to sit down? Check
And yes, these are typically what the days and weeks following childbirth look like (well... if you're lucky and don't end up torn to degree 3 like me, you might be spared the latter).
Anyway, all these happy changes, not to mention that you're probably dealing with the hormonal crash and an urge to cry at the slightest frustration? (I remember crying because my partner was snoring, literally, the noise bothered me)
But hey, you just gave birth to a god or a goddess (what, isn't that kind of trait hereditary?) so you take a deep breath and say to yourself, "What am I complaining about? After all, everyone has done it before me, right?"
Well, that's all well and good, but now what? Do we still exist or do we decide that now that we've fulfilled our biological role, we let the woman in us die and only leave the mother?
Of course, the woman still has a place! And this will never question the unconditional love we feel for our children. On the contrary, it shows that we have enough perspective to be aware that we need to feel good in order to give the best of ourselves for our family. And it starts by implementing small habits that allow us to find ourselves. Here's what helped me stay on track:
Continue some daily tasks as before I'm sure there is something in your routine that you enjoy doing. If you could only choose one element of your old routine to keep, what would it be? For me, it was cooking. Whether it was with my first or second child, I always continued to cook (even if I couldn't take a daily shower) because it made me feel good. But it could be a variety of other small things in your daily life. What helped me was wearing my baby in a carrier. It reassures them because they can smell us, feel our warmth, and hear our heartbeat, and often this calms and soothes them to sleep. And if they're older, they're generally curious to see what we're doing (although the carrier trick doesn't work for showering, there are plenty of other ways to free up a few moments during the day).
Dare to look in the mirror and be kind to our new body I remember seeing my stomach in the mirror after giving birth and trying to take this loose skin that was hanging off with "humor." The body took 9 months to transform and will take just as long to recover. By being kind to ourselves, understanding and accepting the process, it helps a lot to not put additional pressure on ourselves and, on the contrary, to embrace this transition. Not all of our marks will disappear from our bodies, and we should see them as a pride of having given birth. As for me, I have stretch marks as deep as the trenches of battlefields, but I've come to terms with it and now see it as a distinctive sign of what my body has accomplished.
See people who recharge your batteries I'm not talking about the mother-in-law who will make a remark three times that you look tired while implying that you're doing nothing by staying at home. I'm talking about people who make you feel good and allow you to step out of your daily routine and talk to an adult other than your partner.
Practice an activity at your own pace outside of the house This advice applies more when the baby is around 3-4 months old, but finding a way to have your child watched once a week to do an activity (for me it's fitness, and some gyms even have integrated daycares now. It's a certain budget to invest in a membership, but it's investing in yourself and your mental well-being, and that's priceless). Having this weekly breath of fresh air will help you recharge your batteries and feel like your best self again.
Try to have a night out once a month with your partner (if you have one) or a friend. Going out to have a good time with your partner allows the couple to reconnect, and for us, it's an opportunity to dress up and feel attractive again. Having a child is one of the greatest challenges for a couple, and more than ever, you need time together to not forget yourself in parenthood.
In conclusion, taking care of yourself as a new parent is crucial for your own well-being and that of your child. It's important to continue doing things you enjoy, be kind to yourself and accept your body after giving birth, spend time with people who lift you up, engage in activities outside of the home, and make time for your partner or friends. By following these five tips, you can prioritize your own self-care and build a happier, healthier life for you and your family.