After I have a baby, I believe in being a Pampered Princess.
This sounds completely selfish and obnoxious, so bear with me. If you know me, you know I’m not the princess, queen of the house, or diva type. So why do I take that approach when it comes to having a baby?
We all hear a lot about postpartum depression. Well let me tell you, regardless of what Tom Cruise says, it’s real. And it’s ugly. I’ve known enough godly women who have suffered with it, despite having sweet husbands and precious families to welcome the baby at home.
I don’t know about you, but I’m just not in a hurry to experience something so miserable. Last spring and summer, I dealt with either postpartum depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of my son’s emergency lung surgery. I’m really not sure which it was, because I easily fell under both categories. Regardless, it was awful. If that’s anything like what my friends have dealt with during PPD, then I don’t want to touch that with a ten foot pole.
So how can we try to prevent PPD?
Getting plenty of rest after having a baby is a great way to prevent PPD. There’s no guarantee, but it definitely helps. Tired mommies are much more likely to experience PPD.
I read this prior to having my first child, so I immediately decided that I would take a very restful approach to my postpartum days.
Rest is also a lovely way to help your milk supply out, so look for every opportunity to put your feet up and relax while you’re feeding the baby. Don’t give into the temptation to have dad give the baby a bottle while you cook dinner. Instead, have him pick up pizza while you nurse the baby. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
Also, if you are nursing, then you’re probably up all night long, because no one else can do your job for you. So you’re going to need plenty of extra rest during the day.
I remember crying one evening when my husband arrived home from work. It was after 5 pm and we didn’t have anything for dinner. We only had one child, and she wasn’t even a newborn; she was 12 weeks old. Why couldn’t I get dinner together? I felt so worthless as a housewife!
My husband said “Did the baby eat today?” I told him that nursing her (it took her an hour per feeding!) was the only thing I’d accomplished all day long. His response? “Then you did your job for today.” I don’t know what we ate that night for dinner, but my respect and love for my husband grew exponentially, because he extended grace and helped me realize that in those early weeks, my only job is to nurse our child.
I have the joy (insert sarcasm here) of having c-sections, thanks to my daughter’s wonderful breech position. Recovery from a c-section is not fun, especially when you have a toddler to care for as well. We tend to think of c-sections as just another way to have a baby, or like it’s a small procedure. The truth is that it is a major surgery. If a doctor cut a 5 inch incision anywhere else on your body and pulled something out, we’d consider that a “real” surgery, but because c-sections are so common, we tend to minimize it.
But it’s not a cake walk. It hurts anytime those abdominal muscles are used, which is pretty much all the time. After a c-section, there’s no heavy lifting, no bending over for a while, and mom needs lots of rest. How are you supposed to do diaper changes for your toddler? Laundry? Cooking? Sweeping floors?
I think a mom should be expected to do the same things that any woman should do after having any surgery: Rest and recover.
Fortunately, unlike other surgeries, the “thing” that is removed happens to be a real person that we fall in love with, and I believe that makes recovery worlds easier than it would be after, say, a hysterectomy. I noticed after my daughter was born that as soon as a nurse brought her into the room, I felt little to no pain. My babies are the best medicine.
Focus on What Matters Most
Our culture says that women can have it all and do it all. We champion women who can manage a household and a corporation within a couple weeks of having a baby.
I’m here to tell you that I can’t do it all. Some days, even when I feel great, I get nothing accomplished all day, because I’m so busy trying to discipline my 3 year old. She needs a lot of training and encouragement right now. And that’s what matters most today, more than dishes, laundry, or my latest nesting task.
But I surely can’t do it all after I have a baby. And I don’t even want to. I want to bond with that baby, watch my children bond with him, and make memories. They’re only tiny once. I want to enjoy it, not work and rush through it.
How can we take care of Mama?
Prepare Ahead of Time
Getting your home in order and loading up the freezer with both convenience meals and homemade frozen dishes are great ways to afford you plenty of rest after the baby arrives.
See above, but when your body is a milk factory, you’re going to need to eat well. Eat whole foods instead of junk. Skip the chips and opt for raw fruits, veggies, cheeses, and nuts as your instant snacks. You’ll feel better.
Live in Your Jammies & Don’t Make the Bed
If you stay in your jammies and leave the bed unmade, then your bed will just invite you to nap during the day! If your bed is made, you’re less likely to crawl into it for a 25 minute cat nap while the kids are watching Blue’s Clues.
I really don’t worry about what people think when they bring meals to us and see me in my pajamas at 5 pm. If anything, when they bring dinner, they’re probably thinking “Gee, she really needs that meal!”
Let others take the kids off your hands or bring dinner over. You need it, so let them! And they get to experience the joy of serving, so in some ways, it’s a win-win. It takes some guts to admit when you need help, but it also takes some courage to offer to help too. Let them be a blessing to you, and accept the help. A friend from church is already setting up a meal schedule for our family, and it’s comforting for me to know that help is already in place.
Not only will I have family here to help when the baby is born, but my parents will also take the kids back home with them for a while afterwards. This will enable me to simply care for myself and the baby for a week or two. We don’t have family in town to help, so this is the best way to make sure that I get the rest that I need. Do I really want to be away from my kids for that long? No, I don’t, but this is what’s best for all of us. The sooner I’m back to myself, the better it will be for our whole family.
Lower Your Standards
We don’t like convenience foods, but we’ll have to eat them for a while. We don’t like a messy house, but we’ll probably have one. And I don’t like my kids watching too much TV, but I’m sure they will watch more than their fair share over the next month or two, but that’s OK too. We’ll go back to a normal life at some point.
Get Creative with the Kids
Not crafty. I didn’t say crafty. I said creative. When our second child was born, I found some “creative” ways to get rest. Sometimes I would shut the three of us up in my 2 year old’s bedroom so that she could play safely while I nursed and napped with my newborn in my daughter’s double bed. We also played in the backyard quite a bit, with the primary goal of wearing her out before naptime. I would wear Andrew in my newborn baby sling, so that I had my hands free for snacks and a giant bottle of water for myself. Her playtime would ensure a nap for me, especially if I timed it right for him.
Our baby will be here in just a couple of days! I can’t wait!
What tips do you have for getting plenty of rest in those postpartum weeks? I’d love to hear from other moms.