By Anna Gannon
When I became a new mom, my life was all over the place.
Every day felt like a training day.
From getting a handle on breastfeeding to successfully changing diapers to learning how to put / keep my newborn baby asleep, everything was an uphill battle. And of course, as any moms reading this can attest to, the moment I did get the hang of any of these, my daughter’s habits would immediately change and I’d be right back to the drawing board.
With all of this “newness” going on, my focus and energy solely flooded towards my daughter. I had little, if any time to look outside of my new motherhood box and into the other areas in my life. This left a lot of things going to the back burner, including my physical health, my relationship with my husband, my nutrition and my personal time.
Looking back, I had numerous blind spots after having my daughter and by not seeing them, I made my postpartum journey more difficult than it had to be.
Realizing this, I reached out to the Cofounder of Handel Group and author of Maybe It’s You, Lauren Zander, to find out the top 10 ten pitfalls that new mothers run into after having a baby and what steps we can take to avoid them.
After coaching thousands of clients over the years, including Fortune 500 CEOs and top celebrities like Hugh Jackman, and Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams, I couldn’t think of anyone better equipped to identify where we get stuck in postpartum, and how we can get ourselves unstuck. [Not to mention the fact that she’s got three children under the age of 15] I hope Lauren’s thoughts and tips below inspire you to live your best motherhood journey.
The Top 10 pitfalls women run into as new moms (or about to be new moms!) and how to avoid ‘em by Lauren Zander
I’m not sure any of these are terribly original, but, Lord knows, they can use repeating and repeating to help us remember. No matter what, getting conscious of these pitfalls is a huge step in the right direction.
- Carbo loading: As we all know, pregnancy and postpartum aren’t times to eat for two. They are however, times to eat healthily as someone who is nursing or carrying a child. So if you find yourself feeling nauseous and craving carbohydrates and sugar, take a moment to realize that these foods aren’t going to make you feel better. Find something nutritious that will support your energy. Do your best to stay committed to having a healthy pregnancy and postpartum journey.
- Not staying active: With your doctor’s consent, continue some sort of exercise. Get out on a walk and you will feel better.
- Letting emotions run the show: Although your hormones are all over the place in pregnancy and postpartum, it’s important to remember that you can still be your best self to both you and to the people in your life. Offer yourself some compassion and be honest with your loved ones. If you’re feeling emotional, give them a heads up so they can support you the way you need.
- Losing patience with loved ones: When you give birth, your partner will no longer be in the front and center position of your life. No matter how much you love your mate, what you used to find cute enough or tolerable (i.e. not picking up his/her laundry) will not be even remotely adorable anymore. Still– you need to find your heart and your patience.
- Stepping down from leadership: Recognize that, more than likely, since giving birth you’ve stopped being the CEO of the relationship. Instead of holding yourself responsible for keeping the love, heat, and romance alive between the two of you, you’ve stepped down. Become aware of this when you can and see if you can get a new plan in place with the support of your other half.
- Playing small: Understand that this phase in life requires that you grow. You need to expand yourself as you have a baby (figuratively!) and not contract. Motherhood requires growth, new leadership abilities, and living a life by design vs just trying to survive and stay in control. If you stay contracted, you’ll lose a level when a baby comes in versus growing and expanding from it. Get conscious to it, and get designing it.
- Not having fun: We use having a baby as a legit doctor’s note excusing us from taking care of ourselves. First things thrown out with the baby bath water are our bodies, our sex lives, romance, and fun and adventure. So, although it makes perfect instinctual sense to put the baby first, we also use the baby to avoid looking at ourselves. Don’t do this. Take care of you.
- Putting dreams on hold: On that note: don’t use your baby as an excuse to not pursue your dreams. Baby or not, we sneaky humans are always willing to throw out what scares us. And what could possibly be more scary than growing a child, growing up as an adult, AND chasing our dreams?
- Not reading and learning: Read the right book for you that teaches how to train your child to develop good sleeping habits. Back in my day, “The Baby Whisperer” worked.
- Not renegotiating the marriage contract: This is perhaps the most important pitfall to keep an eye out for. Now that you have a baby, it’s time to have another look at your contract with your partner. See who is in charge now of each department in your marriage, from sex to romance to fun to home to health to community, etc. If you don’t know who should be in charge of what, here’s a how to divvy it up: figure out which person is better at the department or, if no one is blatantly better, than the person who complains about a particular department the most is in charge of it.
- Not having sex: OK, I know I said 10 pitfalls … but this one is so important, I’m giving it its own category. Get some new promises in place around sex. Better yet, create some funny, irksome, self-imposed consequences to keep you keeping your sex promises. For example, if you don’t have sex (once your doctor has okayed it), at least X times per week (yes I said per week, NOT per month!), you lose your Netflix, your wine, etc. Fight the right fight. Not only to be the best parent ever, but to be the best partner who is fighting for their dreams. All of them!
So, in a nutshell, what’s the solution to the above pitfalls? Life by design, not default. Design who you are as a mom, as a partner, and in your relationship to yourself. In every area of your life, from your health to your sex life to your career to your fun and adventure to your community, I swear you have a dream, and do not let having a baby act as a doctor’s note allowing you to wave the white flag on what matters most to you. Sure you have to take care of yourself and your baby, but not at the expense of your dreams.
Divvy up the departments in your partnership/marriage. Renegotiate the contract. Yes, your relationship is a business and should be treated as such or the growing “company” won’t thrive.
Are you pregnant or new to motherhood?
Expectful is a digital platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new moms. Each one of our guided meditations has been created to support you throughout your pregnancy and motherhood journey.
Our mission is to help you give your baby the best start in life. Go to expectful.com and sign up for our free meditation trial.
Originally published at expectful.com