How I Plan to Feel More “Human” in the Week Following Birth
That first week postpartum I had never felt less “human” in my life. Everything was a haze of exhaustion, coupled with feeling like I had been in a physical fight and lost big time. I had anticipated the challenge of not sleeping, feeling exhausted, and coming to terms with a physical body I did not recognize, but the complete discomfort and how gross I felt were unexpected.
Those early days, while filled with newborn snuggles and some of the greatest joy I have ever known, were also defined by painful, engorged breasts, leaking from everywhere, wearing adult diapers, not showering, feeling like my pelvic floor had collapsed, dreading going to the bathroom, and feeling defeated when I brushed against my belly, which now felt like a jiggly water bed.
With our second child due in a few weeks, I am determined to find a way to feel a little bit more like myself. Notice I said a little bit – I fully expect to be a hot mess that first week. When I talk about feeling more like myself, do I mean Instagram-worthy hair, looking freshly showered each day, squeezing into some tight clothes, and looking put together? Heck no. I just want to prioritize doing a few things each day that help me feel recharged and refreshed.
The First Shower
I am going to make that first shower after giving birth one of the best showers of my life. For my last birth, I used some hospital-supplied toiletries and rushed through it, not even taking the time to brush my hair because I felt too scared to leave my baby for very long. This time, I packed my favorite shampoo, conditioner, body exfoliator, face mask, and fancy body lotion. I will put on some good music or a funny podcast like I often do at home. At the end of this first postpartum shower, I will look in the mirror and list off positive things about my body – a little cheesy I know, but I want to start this postpartum phase with positivity and self-acceptance.
The last time I had a baby, I had no idea how important clothes would be or how hard it can be to dress a postpartum body. I had planned to just wear baggy, maternity clothes over my nursing bras until I could fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. It left me feeling frumpy and awkward. Getting dressed each day honestly felt humiliating.
This time I have a section in my closet ready with cute, loose, stain hiding, comfortable loungewear, and nursing shirts. Everything is simple and easy to grab and go. The shirts won’t hug my stomach and I have pants that will hide the massive postpartum pads. My wardrobe includes several cute baseball hats that can disguise any un-showered, bad hair day and make me feel better.
20 Minutes to Myself Each Morning
I learned last time that how I set the tone for the day is one of the most important things I can do to help me stay in a positive place mentally. Rather than just diving right into a day of non-stop breastfeeding and taking care of others, I will take just a few minutes to give myself some self-care. I’d like to say I will take an hour, but realistically 20 minutes feels like a more reasonable goal. I will do the things that make me feel best about myself. For me, that will be a short, guided meditation, followed by a quick rinse in the shower, filling in my eyebrows, and putting on mascara. Yes, eyebrows are my key to feeling like myself. Find yours and do it.
And do you know what I won’t be doing each morning? Stepping on the scale. There will be absolutely no weighing of myself in that first week or first month for that matter. Or maybe even the first year…
I am lucky to be having a summer baby, so I will be spending time outside every day. I plan to sit in the sunshine, cuddling my newborn, while I watch my toddler play in the yard. Some days I will enjoy an iced coffee and muffin from my favorite bakery, but every day I plan to find a few moments of complete relaxation.
Being attractive, glamorous, and completely put together are not my goals in that first week. I won’t be curling my hair, putting on a lot of makeup, showering every day, or have clothes without breastmilk spilled all over them. But I also won’t beat myself up for missing some unrealistic expectation of having it all together in those first few days. And finally, I will embrace that squishy belly, which honestly makes a pretty good resting place for a new baby.