I am an advocate for sharing our own personal experiences as a way to help other mommas and I do so often on my socials. In consideration of this I am happy to join March of Dimes in sharing what moms need to know once baby comes homes. The It Starts With Mom: What You Need to Know After The Baby Arrives campaign will truly help many. And while this post is sponsored, I truly hope it helps moms feel seen and understood in those days, months and even years after baby arrives. You are not alone when you go home, there is a huge community of cheerleaders!
As I am sure most are aware, life changes after a baby. I mean, you’re now solely responsible for the well-being of a child. So, yeah. Big change. And while many know that means a new sleep schedule, new eating schedule and maybe even a new work schedule. What’s often left out, is the emotional and mental aspect.
How changes to our bodies affect our self confidence. Or how the surge in hormones, lack of sleep, unsolicited advice and often empty stomach can turn a mother into someone she doesn’t recognize. It can be months after the baby has been born and you’re struggling to know who you are.
So yeah, life definitely changes after a baby. In a lot of good ways, for sure, but there can be some not so good ones as well. That doesn’t make you (or anyone else) a bad mother. That doesn’t make anyone any less capable either. It makes us all human and it’s time we talked about it more openly and candidly with each other.
It’s Normal to Ask … Is This Normal?
The whirlwind that typically is labor and delivery too often gets pushed to the backburner now that you have a newborn. Whether traumatic or exactly as you envisioned, the aftermath can often leave you questioning what’s normal. Life after baby arrives will be filled with this exact question.
Is it normal to have leaky breasts whenever I hear another baby crying? Is it normal to be THIS exhausted everyday? Is it normal to love my baby but also need some time to myself? Is it normal to feel scared and helpless? Terrified that I might mess it up?
The answer to all these questions and any others you may have is yes. Yes, it’s normal and it’s normal and healthy to ask if it’s normal.
We all know about the changes to a woman’s sex drive after baby. Due to the hormonal changes our bodies are experiencing, our libido may take a hit. And we may even experience vaginal dryness.
Yet something I personally did not know until my third child, was just how much our sex lives could change. Like the physical changes. I’m not talking about the occasional leak when laughing either.
Your sex life after baby changes. Like changes, changes. Not only are you battling pure exhaustion, learning to love a body you no longer recognize but now you also have to contend with changes when it comes to orgasms. Yeah, you read that right.
After birth the muscles in your pelvic floor can weaken. This change can cause orgasms to not feel as intense as they did prior. Basically, once we’ve finally found the energy to be intimate with our partners, now there’s this to deal with. Luckily this can be corrected with kegel exercises.
Missing Your Old Life Before Baby
Another thing that you don’t expect to happen, or at least I didn’t, was missing life before baby. When I thought of becoming a mother, my life would change in the best way possible and I’d love every minute of it. And while that first half of that sentence is definitely true, the loving every minute of it sure wasn’t. There were times when I missed the freedom I once had. I missed not being responsible for someone else.
I could get up and go without having to pack diapers or wipes. I could stay up late and sleep in the next day or hang out with friends all day and not worry about engorged breasts.
If you’re shaking your head while reading this, I get it, that sounds absolutely horrible. What type of mother would miss her life before she had the precious gift that is her child? But you know what, it’s also completely normal.
You see there’s this word “and” that allows for two things to be true at the same time. I can love my baby and be so appreciative of the changes that child has brought to my life. I can also love being a mother AND miss what my life was like before I became one.
When you have a child, the old you is gone. You’re a mother now. Your priorities have changed. As already mentioned, your life has changed. Yes, that change is one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever give someone. However, it’s okay to grieve the one you’re leaving behind.
Lack of sleep is probably one of the only things that gets consistently mentioned when talking about life after having a baby. The exhaustion that you feel in those first few months are almost indescribable. My only advice is to focus on you and the baby. I like to call it survival mode. The time when only the bare necessities are of importance and all else, well…
Resenting Your Partner
This was a big one for me. I’ve talked about it openly on my social media pages. I resented that my husband left the house each day. That he was able to have conversations with other adults and then come home amped and full of energy to play with the kids. Where I felt like I was barely holding on. Like, no matter how hard I tried, I could never make time to “play” with the kids. There was just always something that needed to be done.
I’m not going to lie. I still feel this way from time to time. Not nearly as bad as I used to, but it still happens. And when it does, I sit in those feelings. I don’t tell myself I’m wrong for feeling that way. Or that I should be grateful my children have such an amazing dad.
Nope. Instead I acknowledge how I am feeling. Taking a moment to dig deep and see where these thoughts are coming from. Have I been overworking myself lately? Did I let some nonexistent deadline throw me into a frenzy and now I’m suffering?
Whether you stay home with the kids so your partner can work, you both work, or something in between, you are both amazing parents. You are both doing the best that you can and each of you are needed equally in your children’s lives.
Be prepared for your mental health after baby to go in a lot of different directions. One minute you’re praising yourself for finally getting baby to latch while in the very next shaming yourself for forgetting the pacifier at home.
While completely normal (I’m assuming from the lack of sleep and sheer confusion that newborns bring), the baby blues are something to look out for. After my first, I suffered from baby blues pretty bad. It eventually turned into PPD, but I truly think had I not been so afraid to say something it may not have.
Well I am here to tell you, that yes, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to criticize yourself for not knowing something or getting something wrong for the 393479th time, but don’t be hard on yourself about it. You’ve never done this before. You’ve never been in this moment at this time before. It’s all new.
How Postpartum Anxiety and Depression Impacted My Life
Seven years. Seven long years. That is how long I spent telling myself I wasn’t good enough. That my children deserved more. Deserved a better mom.
But my symptoms of postpartum depression weren’t always like that. I think about it like the volume on the radio. It starts off low. Just little thoughts here and there. Things like, “man I should have known better.” Nothing alarming. Then, with time, it slowly turns up. The thoughts become more and more intrusive.
Having a baby changes your life, but PPA/PPD can destroy your motherhood. For me it was one of the worst things I have ever had to deal with, and I wish I was more prepared.
5 Ways to Adjust to Life After Baby Arrives
Life may seem crazy with a newborn. There’s no rhyme or reason to much of anything to live after baby arrives, but it won’t always be that way. Understanding that upfront and taking steps to nourish yourself inside and out during the process can go a LONG way.
1. Take 5 Minutes of Quiet Time Without Baby
As a new mother I was scared to leave my first born alone. Even when he was sleeping he was either in the room with me, or I was constantly checking on him. It doesn’t not need to be this way.
Find moments when you can take 5 minutes to yourself. If you can’t find time, create time. Prioritize yourself now so later it won’t be nearly as hard. Because speaking from experience, telling a toddler who follows you everywhere you go at all times, that you need 5 minutes to yourself, is like speaking to a brick wall.
2. Focus On Just One Task That Makes You Feel Productive
It can seem like there is a never-ending to-do list. No matter how much you do, there is always something left. I am telling you now, that is never going to change. But you know what can? You’re mindset about it.
Stop focusing on this list that seems to only keep growing. Instead, pick one or two tasks that you can finish quickly. You want to look for ones that will give you a sense of satisfaction once completed. For me it’s the dishes. There’s just something about having an empty sink that brings me peace.
3. Don’t Hold Yourself to Cultural Expectations
As you adjust to parenthood there may be a lot of unsaid expectations. These can come from those closest to you, the social norms wherever you live, or even complete strangers. Ignore them. I spent the first 7 years of my motherhood journey believing I was an unfit mother because I had yet to find a way to keep my house clean, work, take care of my child and be an amazing wife.
I was always “struggling” in some areas. And I put that in quotations because I was only struggling based on other people’s view of me. Hi, I’m Jazmyne. Don’t be like me.
4. Accept (& Cherish) Your New Body
Thats it…thats the tweet. No but seriously, your body after baby may not look the same. It may not feel the same. It’s spent the last ten months shapeshifting to accommodate growing a tiny human. Can we really expect it to? Logically it makes sense, right. Our body is different because of what it’s just accomplished. But emotionally, well that’s a different story.
I try to look at it as my battle wounds. My motherhood journey has been filled with plenty of highs and lows. But I’ve made it through and have five beautiful kids to show for it. When I look in the mirror I see strength. I see courage. I see the sacrifices I’ve made the the fruits of all my labor.
5. Ask for Help When You Need It
If I could go back and tell 23 year old Jazmyne anything, it would be to open my mouth. I suffered so much thinking I had to do it all or else I was a bad mother, and it almost destroyed me.
If you need help, ask. If you need help, ask. Let me say it one more time, if you need help, ask. Matter of fact, even if you don’t need help, ask anyway. You won’t regret it.
Know You’re Not Alone
Feeling isolated after baby comes home and the dust dies down is normal. Everyone else goes back to their daily lives and your left to figure out how to raise another human being. If you’re the only one in the friend group who’s had a child things can be even more isolating. Please know you are not alone.
March of Dimes has created this amazing video seris “It Starts With Mom” to show you just how much support you have. It’s a platform to help from pregnancy to postpartum.
Life After Baby May Be Different, But It’s Beautiful Just Like You
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I wanted to be more open and candid about how my life changed after having my children. Children are a beautiful blessing. Being able to experience motherhood in such a capacity has been amazing to me. Even within all that I have dealt with.
Being a mother is beautiful. The journey is filled with highs and lows but those highs always out rank the lows. The changes that ebb and flow through that journey build you. Empower you and inspire you to be something you weren’t before. Yes, becoming a mother changed me, but it did so in a way I needed.
Let me know in the comments below how motherhood changed you? How different is your life after baby?