I always tell people that nothing could probably have prepared me for the first month post partum – nothing. Its not that I hadn’t heard enough stories – stories of how your body is exhausted from delivery, how you need all the rest and help you can have immediately after delivery, how sleep deprivation consumes your entire being – I heard it all, but I was like – meh, how bad could it be? I got my answer like a smack in the face. It was bad, very bad, because what I became post partum was this completely different person, physically and mentally – dealing with an absolutely new situation, which was challenging at all levels.
I come from a country where there is a period of confinement post partum, where you are relieved from all household chores, to recuperate and be able to focus completely on the baby, who is wholly dependent on you. I have heard that many other countries don’t have this luxury and I wonder how they manage. While I kept asking people whether it was even possible not to do anything for a month after delivery, again, I got my answer pretty soon. You are not ‘not doing anything’ post partum. Your whole body needs recovery and yes, a baby is work. More work than your household chores!
These are some of the things I had to learn post partum;
- You are doing ok! – I had no experience ever of handling babies, let alone a new born. Immediately post delivery, the task of being everything for the baby is overwhelming and it is okay to not know things! It is a learning process. People around should also realise this and watch the comments.
- Ask for help – I always have a hard time asking for help. But being a new mother taught me to shamelessly ask for all the help I could, because there was no way I could wing this alone. Make sure you have people around who can support you and if possible, all tasks are delegated beforehand.
- Read – If you like reading, that is. It is much better than TV or your cell phone. In the initial days, you will most likely be spending hour sitting, feeding the baby, and not doing anything in that time can make you go crazy. Reading helped me, a lot!
- Meditate – To deal with all the craziness around I had to seek some peace of mind. I very rarely meditated ever in my life before. I do it everyday now. And this is a topic for another long article probably, but I went for easy meditation techniques, which I could do anytime anywhere the whole day.
- Pamper your body – In India, the new mother is massaged well for at least a month, often more than that. There are also other ways to do this, whatever suits you. Assign some time in the day which is only for yourself. For this, you will need to have a reliable person who can look after the baby for that brief period of time, even half an hour of me time can do wonders.
- Don’t concentrate on what you can’t do, concentrate on what you are doing – being a mother! This is the mantra which brought me out of my victimhood post partum. I was feeling overwhelmed by all the changes I was going through, I was feeling resentful no one else had to make the changes, but this one line my sister said to me changed everything in an instant! I don’t know if it will work for you, but it did for me.
- Things get better with time – as always. Period.