Postpartum

Understanding Postpartum in the Past and Present

WHAT POSTPARTUM USED TO MEAN

For centuries, women had a much different postpartum experience than what we now know in dominant American culture. Women before us knew that bodies, minds, and emotions needed time to heal and restore after giving birth. Understanding postpartum was both a secret from men and a collective journey for women. Women rallied together and lived the “village” way. (Learn more about the traditions of the First 40 Days in this eye-opening book.)

Women were given time to rest, connect, and not have to “keep up.” They were encouraged to prioritize healing, bonding and introspection over bounce back, productivity, and curated photo shoots. They lived in close proximity (or even with) family and friends who would help lift the load of a new mother and family. She wasn’t left alone. She was cooked for, cleaned for, and cared for. It seems as though honor was a big part of the narrative about a postpartum mom. She was honored. She was cared for. A new mom was encouraged to care for herself and her baby without other burdening expectations.

The narrative has changed over the years with the changes in our society, as all narratives do in an evolving society. Sometimes change is good, but change can also be harmful and we have to stand up against it and demand better for ourselves. No longer does the dominant message about postpartum include rest, staying home, being cared for and nourishing your body and soul.

When it comes to postpartum and motherhood, we’ve seen the harmful changes and it’s time we stand up against it and demand better for ourselves.

RELATED: How Long is Postpartum?

postpartum mom standing in mesh undies

There are things people just don’t talk about when it comes to postpartum. I talk about the Top 10 Things People Won’t Tell You About Postpartum in this free download. Check it out and let’s continue to dive into the taboo topics of postpartum.

Understanding Postpartum in Media, Social Media, and Google

Standing in line at the grocery store, I saw a tabloid. Tabloids are stupid, I know, but sadly they still exist and people still see them often. This tabloid had a picture of sweet Meghan Markle crying with a headline about postpartum depression. The text conveyed a clear message of shame and drama. The picture and text conveyed the messaged that Postpartum Depression is a terrible, abnormal, failure of a problem and no one that is happy and has a good life should struggle with it.

The truth is that Postpartum Depression is common (estimated 1 in 5 moms) and is not linked to decisions or failures on the mother’s part. Read more about the facts of PPD from the National Institute of Mental Health here. All types of women with all types of births and all types of babies can be affected by PPD. Five brave women shared their personal experiences on this previous blog post.

Understanding Postpartum on Social Media: Lose the Baby Weight

It doesn’t take but a quick search of the hashtag #postpartumgoals or #postpartumsupport or something similar to see a disturbing theme. Bodies. Bodies everywhere. Why is this an issue? Because it screams to us, as women, that postpartum goals= postpartum body = losing the baby weight (often referred to as the “bounce back.” Social media is full of before and afters. There is research that confirms that social media affects body image. Sometimes these images even use days post-birth as a “before” which is wildly deceiving.

Chances are if you use any hashtag about postpartum on a picture of you and your new babe, someone will ask you about joining a program to get your body back.

(Sidenote: You didn’t lose your damn body, momma. You birthed a child and had a natural experience of a body transition which is not shameful in the least.) Need postpartum support? Thankfully more and more doulas and coaches and restorative care-minded groups are emerging (check out my postpartum support program here if you’re interested .)

BUT the dominant message is still about fitness and nutrition “support” which again tells us the overarching message is that you’ve had the baby, now lose the weight. This. Is. Not. Acceptable.

Body image, overall, is an evolving topic. Our expectations of ourselves and others is constantly impacted by societal messages. Check out Body Image: 2021 Facts, Figures, and Statistics from a recent body image survey conducted in London.

Understanding Postpartum: Google, Pinterest, and Other Searches

pinterest how to lose the baby weight

We’re going to do a little experiment together. Follow along:
1. Open a new tab or browser

2. Navigate to Pinterest. I choose Pinterest because this is a hub of pictures, articles, infographic,s and more and the primary users of Pinterest are moms.

3. Type in the word “postpartum”

4. Look at the suggested keywords that pop up after the word “postpartum”

Here is a screenshot of what comes up for me. Pinterest suggests extended keywords based on popularity. This means that when women are searching for topics surrounding postpartum, this is what is most searched. Workout, weight loss, care, belly. I’m thankful care is in there.

Searching for Understanding Postpartum and “Fix”

Women search Pinterest for inspiration for how they want to live their lives. We use these images, articles, infographics, and more to guide our decisions in many ways. Women are seeking ways to lose weight or lose the belly because the dominant postpartum narrative in our society tells them that this is a top priority for the postpartum mom.

When we shift the narrative, we give women the freedom to seek out, expect, and accept different priorities for themselves. Understanding postpartum in a way that is honoring and growth-focused. Shifting the narrative can mean telling a mom that it’s okay to focus on recovery and rest before weight loss and body image. It can tell her that her body- her changed body- is incredible and valuable. Shifting the narrative gives us all a better foundation for which to be a postpartum mom.

THE MODERN MOM: DO IT ALL. BE IT ALL.

Supermom.

Mom Boss.

Side hustle mom.

Mom whose kid is in every imaginable activity.

Daily toddler craft mom.

The mom who does early language development programing with her newborn.

A working mom with a house so clean she can post pretty pictures on IG daily.

Children’s clothing is always coordinated by mom.

Sleep routine master.

Daily from-scratch meal creator.

My life is a musical I sing in sync with my kids mom.

harmful+mom+boss+movement.jpeg

Understanding Postpartum from Grandmas and Influencers

If you have a grandmother or another older female you are close to, go ahead and ask her how many of these descriptions she felt pressure to fill. Chances are, it wasn’t many. But today, thanks to a plethora of “how-to” articles and access to other people’s lives at a swipe of the finger, women put these layers on themselves. As soon as a woman isn’t pregnant anymore, she is internalizing the expectations she now has as a mom. (My goal as a content creator and postpartum coach is to call BS on the Pinterest Perfect mom and keep shit real about postpartum and beyond.)

Here’s how this can look:

Cindy follows Mom Influencers on Instagram. She keeps a close eye on 6 profiles:
1. Sara is always posting interactive activities she is doing with her toddler and her newborn.
2. Kelly is always posting tips for a clean home and organization skills- even with kids running around.
3. Vanessa is always posting the clean eating meals she has prepped for her whole family (and her kids LOVE them).
4. Becca is always posting about squeezing in her workout and flexing those post-baby abs.
5. Megan is always posting about “fool-proof” sleep routines and schedules for the family.
6. Erica is always posting about breastmilk, cloth diapers, and natural ways to heal any ailments.

So Cindy, after taking a few minutes to scroll her feed, feels like shit. THESE MOMS HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. Or so it seems. Truth is 6 moms have 1 thing together- and we know nothing about the other areas of their lives. However, as the consumer, we internalize these messages and they mix into one “perfect” mom that we expect ourselves to be.

Moms can do anything. WE cannot do everything. Moms can be anything. We cannot be everything.

RELATED: Relationship After Baby (eCourse)

CHANGING THE POSTPARTUM NARRATIVE: WHY AND HOW

The narrative around postpartum has shifted with the generations. Years ago the message was that postpartum is a time when women need support, rest, and community to a current narrative that says women need to perform, prove, and jump back into things. If the narrative has changed in the past, it can change again. This time, though, we are battling the dominant narrative not just in the stories passed down from family and friends, we are now battling the dominant narrative that permeates our media and social media channels. This kind of battle requires collective uprising. It requires passion and compassion. It requires changing the stories we tell aloud and the stories we tell in intimate conversations. This requires demanding that media remove their filter of shame evoking clickbait headlines and misconstrued images. It requires shifting who we follow on social media to raise up the voices speaking truth and hope instead of images curated to show an untruthful perfection.

We deserve this emphasis on how to understand postpartum. Women deserve more honoring and empowering language around the needs of postpartum. We deserve more education about the changes we go through. Women deserve time and rest, recovery and bonding with our new family. We deserve acceptance around mental health struggles, body changes, emotional transitions, identity shifts, and every area of life those changes touch.

We Need to Understand Postpartum for a Functional Society

Women don’t just deserve this, we need this. We need this for a more functional society. We need this for healthier families. Our society need this for a better narrative about postpartum to pass on to our daughters and their families. We cannot settle.

Maybe you want to read and think and have this conversation in the safety of your home. Excellent. Or, maybe you want to connect and continue this conversation with me and with other women joining in- connect with me on IG. Maybe you have your own story to share- SHARE it. Speak your truth with confidence, mommas, because your truth and story matters and our stories move the collective story forward.

Tell me in the comments: How will YOU be part of changing the narrative of postpartum?

how we talk about postpartum .png

There are things people just don’t talk about when it comes to postpartum. I talk about the Top 10 Things People Won’t Tell You About Postpartum in this free download. Check it out and let’s continue to dive into the taboo topics of postpartum.

Postpartum, Postpartum Stories

Living with a PMAD After Birth: 5 Women’s Stories

PMAD Stories: Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) affect over 20% of moms. Surely that is more than one mom that you personally know. However, you might not know that she has struggled because the stigma remains high and the conversation is kept behind closed doors.

The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety, and other postpartum mood disorders (see types of disorders here) can be obvious or they can be hidden. The mission to remove maternal mental health stigmas is a very important one. In the depths of new motherhood, the last thing a woman needs to feel is alone.

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?

infographic for postpartum depression signs, symptoms and treatment

Image via: AHealthBlog

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Postpartum Depression doesn’t feel the same for everyone and can be identified by a number of criteria. We often think of depression as feeling tired, uninterested, and sad. While this can be true, these are not the only markers.

Other presenting symptoms may be irritability, guilt, loss of energy, and more. Because having a baby creates a big shift, it is important to know the distinguishing signs and talk to your medical provider about the severity of your symptoms. While the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is given at most postnatal checkups, postpartum depression (and other maternal mental health disorders) can present at any time within the first year of postpartum, therefore many women go unidentified and untreated. By raising awareness and sharing stories, we give moms hope support, and encouragement. Remember, HELP is not a bad word. It is a sign of strength!

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM ANXIETY?

Less discussed, but no less important PMAD types are often housed under the “anxiety” diagnosis. More specifically, some women experience postpartum anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or psychosis.

Postpartum Anxiety infographic signs and symptoms

Image: Anxiety Canada

RELATED: Mom’s Story of Postpartum Anxiety

TELLING OUR POSTPARTUM PMAD STORIES

We bring light to one another with our stories, and women have shared their stories in this post in hopes that it will bring normalization and light to other moms. If you or someone you know identifies with the symptoms of Postpartum Depression, reach out (get help here). There is no shame in helping yourself so you can better help your family.

The following is a collection of responses from moms willing to share their experience with Postpartum Depression.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS (PMAD) PRIOR TO YOUR EXPERIENCE?

  1. I knew about PMAD prior to postpartum in the sense of what they are, however, I didn’t know the reality of them or how common they are. I also really prepared myself and felt prepared for pregnancy and labor but did not feel as prepared for postpartum. I read January Harshe’s book Birth Without Fear pre-birth (and first of all it’s amazing and everyone should read it), which helped open my eyes to postpartum. But the actual reality of postpartum really shocked me. I’m starting to feel human again, my baby is 6 weeks old, and as I reflect on the past 6 weeks it’s been tough, unknown, and scary at times. It’s also been so beautiful and I love being a mom, but mentally and emotionally I was not prepared.

  2. I didn’t know much about postpartum depression going into my first pregnancy. I heard people talk about getting tired, sleep deprived, and having child get on your nerves, but it sounded like the norm. Like it was something every mom dealt with. After my sons birth in 2016, the first couple of weeks were rough but that was because I was breastfeeding and he was eating every 2 hours. I had no time to sleep! My husband and I came up with a night time routine and everything was fine after that. A couple of years later getting pregnant with our little girl, I started to worry how I was going to balance two small children. No one could give me an answer. I kept hearing, “It’s great for your kids because the will have someone to play with so close in age.” But what about me?!

  3. I work in the medical field to we studied PMDs in school so I was aware of them from the stand point of signs/symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. I also knew that I was at risk for a PMD because i have a history of anxiety. I knew that a lot of Moms struggle with PMDs but dont seek help.

  4. I was familiar with postpartum mood disorders, mainly because my twin sister suffered horrible postpartum depression. When I got pregnant, this was a fear of mine, as I’ve struggled with anxiety for my whole teenage/adult life.

  5. I did not know anything about them when I was pregnant or really after

WHAT MADE YOU REALIZE YOU MIGHT HAVE A POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER?

  1. I realized I had PMAD when I had a panic attack in the bulk section of my natural food me store. I’ve had anxiety on and off during different seasons of my life and was feeling anxious on and off during early postpartum. Once my mom left and the newborn honeymoon was over (my baby was sleeping for 5 hour stretches for 2 weeks straight, he was never fussy and rarely cried, loved to just hang out and snuggle, self soothed and put himself to sleep if we laid him down etc.

    Once that 3rd week hit all of that changed) I started realizing I was getting anxiety especially during car rides, driving, being out in public on my own, when I wasn’t holding my baby, at night (I kept checking to make sure he was breathing often and not getting much sleep), and if we stayed home for extended amounts of days. My husband and I had been running errands together and the baby fell asleep in the car so my husband stayed with him while I ran into the store. I couldn’t find the one thing I needed and started getting really panicked and then couldn’t breathe and just started crying in the middle of the store for “no reason”. I immediately left and cried all the way home because it was such a scary and unknown feeling. Since I’ve had a few other episodes like that.

    Once I had a second panic attack at takeoff on the plane while traveling with my husband and baby (all I could imagine … and the images were so vivid and clear … was my whole family dying in a plane crash which triggered it), I reached out to my midwife.

  2. Afternoon my daughter was born, I immediately started drinking to cope with the stress. Balancing drinking with breastfeeding was easy with her because she slept longer than my son (4-5 hours). I was angry, short to discipline my son, easily agitated, arguing with my husband, sleep-deprived, and not getting a break. Even when I went back to work, I had to breastfeed every couple of hours therefore my “mommying” never stopped. I knew how I was feeling after birth was different from my son because I couldn’t shake it with a simple schedule change. My life was entirely different.

  3. I realized I have a PMAD because I did not want to leave my baby at home without anyone but myself. Whenever I would leave even to go to the grocery for an hour, I would not be able to focus on what I was doing, my legs would get weak, my heart would race and I would feel nauseated. I cried almost every night, partly due to normal postpartum hormones but I would cry at night before bed out of sheer terror that something would happen to my baby overnight. By the same token, I would fear falling asleep because I did not want to not wake up to my baby if she was in distress.

  4. Luckily I was prepared for the warning signs. Once my baby was born, I had the “normal” crying spells and attributed that to sleep deprivation and hormones. However, when I was having nightly panic attacks and scared to leave the house, and constantly fearing about worst-case-scenarios — I knew my anxiety was back. I also began to feel really sad, mourning my “old self” and wondering if I’ll ever be “myself again”

  5. I didn’t really even know, I just knew I was not okay.

postpartum-depression-support.jpg

Source: http://www.stylist.co.uk

WHO WAS YOUR SUPPORT THROUGH POSTPARTUM?

  1. My mom is amazing. She’s a labor and delivery nurse and was present for weeks leading up to my birth, during my birth, and for 2 weeks after my birth. I talk to her on the phone almost everyday and she’s been so honest and open with everything. My midwife and I have a close bond so she has been a big support. And I’ve also been attending a Mother’s support group that is absolutely amazing. The first time I went I cried when I did my check-in because I finally felt normal. So many other women were experiencing the same things I was. I heard other mothers verbalize and really be honest and open I felt so safe and known.

  2. I got untraditional help from a prayer specialist and stopped drinking on New Years’ Eve 2018.

  3. My husband. My sister is also a big support system of mine but I ca not talk to her about these things like I can my husband. She is very “chill” and laid back, not easily stressed.

  4. My husband and my midwife were incredibly supportive. Even with them, though, (and with my knowledge that this is normal) I was nervous to be completely honest in my postpartum evaluation. I felt ashamed for not being 100% thrilled about motherhood.

  5. I am not really sure I had any support. I never really shared where I was or what I was going through. Does anyone ever really understand? I wish my family would have seen the signs.

    RELATED: Postpartum Resources

WAS IT HARD TO SPEAK UP ABOUT NEEDING HELP? WHY?

  1. It was hard to acknowledge that I needed help to myself. I was having so much guilt for my feelings and struggles. We walked along 2 1/2 year walk of infertility and during that time I would have given anything for a baby. I fell pregnant naturally right before starting fertility treatments. It felt/still feels like such a gift that I feel guilty a lot when I’m feeling like it’s so hard or crying or being negative.

    So it was really hard to say to my husband – I need help and it was really emotional at my 6 weeks check-up last week to tell my midwife. I wasn’t scared to tell her and not necessarily ashamed but I acknowledged how guilty I was feeling and was met with a hug and affirmations that I didn’t need to feel guilty and that this was all ok. My brain knows that I’m not my thoughts and anxiety but my body reacts like that and sometimes I feel so out of control of my anxiety it scares me.

  2. It’s still a constant battle dealing with postpartum depression because as moms, we never stop. We have moments where we really kickass and somewhere we beat ourselves up because we didn’t balance our day accordingly. But what I have learned is that we have to ask for help, we have to give ourselves grace, and, most of all, we are not the only ones dealing with this. All moms do in one form or another.

  3. It wasn’t hard to speak up but it was hard to let myself be vulnerable and accept that I may need to ask for help. I am an extremely confident and independent person so to let my guard down was hard. It was also hard to accept that I have a PMAD because of my medical career..you do not want to acknowledge the fact that you HAVE what patients come to you to TREAT. Also, it is the mentality that “I know what this is and what is happening but why can’t I overcome it?”

  4. Somehow I was able to be brave and honest with the questionnaire about PMD- and my midwife was SO understanding. We talked and she wrote me a prescription for breastfeeding-safe anxiety medication/anti-depressant. She talked through my fears of risks associated with breastfeeding and showed me statistics about the safety of the medication she prescribed.

  5. One day I sat in my PCP office and I told her how I had these thoughts of “Well what if a car hit me when I turned at an intersection” or “What if I hit this parked car driving down the road?” One day I very vividly remember thinking if I could just go somewhere like even a hospital for a few days to get away- I told her- and she looked at me- and I never cried or anything. She asked me what stopped me and I said: “ Well, of course, my kids.” She asked if I was okay that day and I said “Yeah, sure” and she immediately prescribed me medication.

HOW DID YOU FIND SOME RELIEF FOR YOU POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION/ANXIETY/OTHER?

  1. I’m still working on relief. I feel like acknowledging it and speaking about it has helped a lot! Also, I started working out again – I worked out often prior to pregnancy and as often as I could throughout my pregnancy. It’s my outlet for stress relief and something I enjoy doing. It makes me feel strong and empowered. I’ve only been to 2 workouts but have noticed such a change in my mental clarity and emotional being after.

    I’m seeking out counseling and have an appointment in the next few weeks. I was prescribed medication – my midwife and I really talked long and hard about it. I told her that I wanted to see how these other things I was implementing helped me and felt comfortable in waiting to take medication until I felt like I needed to. I’ve had anxiety in the past and I know my limits. I don’t suggest this for everyone … but I feel confident in that choice for now because I am an open book with a conversation with my husband and my mom and have a lot of support and a place and multiple people to go to when I feel like I need it.

  2. I got untraditional help from a prayer specialist.

  3. I found relief by talking to my husband. I also was honest with my OB and I am on low dose Zoloft with has been a game-changer.

  4. I’ve only been on medication for about a week now, but am already feeling relieved to have been honest with this experience. Knowing this is normal brought a lot of comforts.

  5. I am not confident I had really ever found relief, it just became more manageable. I came out of the deep depression with better food and exercise but even to this day I still struggle with mom guilt and I do seek counseling for it all.

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WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A NEW MOM ABOUT POSTPARTUM MENTAL HEALTH?

  1. I am very honest with friends who are about to have their first babies when they ask how everything is going. I tell them that I love being a mom and I love my baby more than anything but that I’ve been struggling a lot. I tell them about the support group I go to and how important it is to have support.

    I tell them that if they have struggled to please be honest and reach out. I tell them that all those feelings and emotions are ok and that they aren’t in our control. I remind my friends with babies now that they are the best mom to their baby and to fight the need to feel perfect and meet the standards and expectations of others. And to ask for help – ask for help holding the baby so you can have 5 minutes alone, or ask for help around the house, or with other everyday tasks, etc.

  2. We have moments where we really kickass and somewhere we beat ourselves up because we didn’t balance our day accordingly. But what I have learned is that we have to ask for help, we have to give ourselves grace, and, most of all, we are not the only ones dealing with this.

  3. It is ok to ask for help. Were tough but the emotions and stress of motherhood is A LOT for anyone to handle. Do not let something get in the way of the happiness and joy and new memories to be made with your baby. Also, the concept and risk factors for SIDS are HAMMERED into your head in the hospital before discharge..follow the recommendations and it will be OK. I did and still do obsess over the temperature in the bedroom and making sure my baby is breathing but if you are following the rules your baby will be OK!

  4. I want a new mother to know PMDs are NORMAL and to be brave and honest in their postpartum evaluation. In fact, reach out sooner than your 4-6 week follow up if you are concerned. Your doctor/midwife/OB will be glad to help— they won’t judge you 🙂

  5. I would and have told a mom to not be a hero and ask for help. Be okay and don’t rush. It’s like empathy vs sympathy and somethings can’t be understood until they experience it.

WHAT DO YOU WANT SOCIETY TO KNOW ABOUT MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH?

  1. I wish more women would be more honest and didn’t feel like they had to mask postpartum struggles and disorders. I wish society wouldn’t pressure me into feeling the need to be perfect or meet standards or expectations. I wish people would stop asking me how my baby sleeps and then making me feel bad when I tell them he wakes up every 2 hours to eat … he’s 6 weeks old and is a freaking baby!

    I wish people would ask me … how are you doing and take the time to listen and actually act on being supportive- bring me a coffee, come hold my baby so I can enjoy a hot shower AND wash my hair and shave my legs in the same shower session, drop off a meal at my door, etc.

  2. All moms face this in one form or another.

  3. Motherhood and the postpartum phase isn’t all glamorous Instagram pics and full nights of sleep. It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s a lot of work for everyone involved. Women are ALLOWED to struggle and ask for help. Women are ALLOWED to break down and be vulnerable. Let’s support these women. I am by no means a feminist but unless you have a baby and have experienced postpartum ANYTHING, you cannot possibly understand so educate yourself.

    Offer a hand or an ear to a new mom. Don’t offer to watch the baby so mom can “sleep” because what mom is going to be able to sleep while someone who doesn’t know anything about their brand new baby babysits? Offer to do the dishes, vacuum, take the dog for a walk, go to the grocery.

  4. I want society to realize how common postpartum mood disorders are, to de-stigmatize them, so ultimately women feel more comfortable getting the support they need.

  5. That this is real and there is help- too many women have too much pressure and not enough support in postpartum.

RELATED: Why Mom Guilt is Bullshit

Image: AHN Women

Image: AHN Women

Want to read more stories and learn about how maternal mental health affects women daily? Search #mywishformoms on Instagram and show some moms love!

RELATED: Preventing PPD (eCourse)

What’s your story momma?

What do you want moms and/or society to know about Postpartum Mood Disorders and Maternal Mental Health?

Keep the conversation going in the comments. Share this with loved ones so they don’t feel alone. If you’re currently pregnant and wondering how to prepare for your postpartum, I took some of the work off your plate with this Free Postpartum Plan Checklist.

WOMEN SHARE THEIR POSTPARTUM PMAD STORIES: PIN ME!

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marriage, Postpartum

Marriage After Baby: 5 Communication Tips to Save Your Relationship

5 TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING POSTPARTUM TO YOUR PARTNER

Postpartum is a huge transition. Our partner doesn’t understand all we are going through. It’s not surprising that marriage after baby and communication needed can be difficult in those early days (and beyond!)

The truth is they are also undergoing a huge transition AND we can use a few intentional tools to shed light on the things we are experiencing and needing as moms. By being purposeful about communicating your postpartum experience to your partner, you can improve the postpartum relationship and be a team in postpartum recovery.

When we talk about postpartum, people often assume it can be boiled down to postpartum sex, postpartum depression, and your postpartum body. Yes, these are factors, but there are MANY MORE. Helping our partners to understand the wide array of transitions we are experiencing, AND normalizing the reality that postpartum is more than just 6-12 weeks, we can have less misunderstandings and resentment and more of a team approach to this new way of family.

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Postpartum Sex

marriage changes after baby

WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT:

  • In postpartum, a lot of changes from the start and continues to change for weeks, months and years beyond.

  • Limited time together as a couple can cause added stress.

  • Shifting the focus on the baby means less focus on one another.

  • Sleep deprivation is hard on everyone involved.

You can tell your partner, in a moment of frustration, that he (sub she if applicable) doesn’t understand. He probably already knows this, though, and your reminder doesn’t help. Read on for things to try instead to help your marriage after baby.

1. Marriage After Baby: Pass Along What is Helpful to You

Do you find yourself following social media accounts or reading blogs to help you understand your own postpartum experience?
Do you have a go-to place that you learn and normalize with other women?
Have you googled a scenario and found information on a specific webpage?

Forward this to your partner. Share with him the accounts, pages, or books that have been most helpful to you.

Give him some insight into your thinking by passing along some outside insight.

sharing the mental load of parenthood through communication

(Important: This does not mean YOU do all the reading and work and pass along the cliff notes. Marriage after baby is STILL a 2-way street. You do NOT need to create more work for yourself. You simply pass it along and let him know that this information would be helpful for him to know and improve mutual understanding.)

Topics that you may want to pass along to your partner include:
Breastfeeding/pumping: Choosing to or not to and the implications of that
Birth Trauma
Hormone changes
The mental load of motherhood
Deciding to return to work or not return to work
Keeping a family schedule
Society pressures women face that men usually do not (body back, milk production, always joy)

2. Marriage After Baby: Change Criticism into Questions

This goes for both partners- so this is something to discuss and keep coming back to. In the heat of moments, it’s easy to throw around criticisms. I’m not immune to this, but training the brain for this mental shift can save a lot of heartache and the temptation of escalated emotions. When I want to criticize my husband, I try to remember to turn it into a question. Sure, I might think he’s totally sucking at something… but let me give him the benefit of an explanation and his perspective.

Usually, this insight allows us to connect. I ask the same of him- what he might see as an explosive wife might be a postpartum mom who feels lost in her escalated emotions that she doesn’t understand but is surely tied to a huge hormonal shift. Asking questions gives us both the chance to understand. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities, and beyond.

3. Marriage After Baby: Use a Code Word/Phrase

Sometimes we know that what we are going to say isn’t what we want to say. Sometimes a question or comment can provoke us to say it anyway… here enters the need for a code word or phrase. Having a keyword or phrase allows you to say “Not right now” to your partner and create a barrier. Give yourself the time to be in your emotions without reacting to them… and then plan a time to talk when you feel more rational and at peace.

4. Marriage After Baby: Share Lists and Resources

Trying to juggle doctor appointments, baby meds, grocery needs, and the ongoing to-do list? Let me tell you right now- you do not have the mental capacity for this. You do not need to carry that alone and your partner most likely doesn’t expect you to. Using a few resources to share the load can help everyone breathe a little more.

  • Utilize a family calendar. Whether this is digital or physical (check out this family whiteboard or this JUMBO calendar)

  • Share a digital grocery list that makes it easy to add when needed or know what to pick up when someone has a chance to stop at the store. We use Anylist

  • Have a priority-based to do list. Personally, one of my biggest triggers is my husband saying “What can I do to help?” Don’t get me wrong, the gesture is great but I don’t want to have to mentally think through what’s a priority. By using tiered lists, either of us can easily see what’s most important when spare time arises. We use Todoist

shared family calendar for mental workload of motherhood

5. Marriage After Baby: Be Mindful of Your Language

The way WE talk about our postpartum frames the way we encourage others to talk about our postpartum. If we want a cultural and societal shift, it has to start in our homes and this starts with how we talk to our partners. Take out the word “babysitting” when it is truly shared childcare. Take out phrases like “help me out by doing the dishes” and replace with “we need the dishes done.” Instead of saying “I’m just feeling crazy right now” say something like “I’m feeling overwhelmed with my emotions and I am not my best self.”

If we want the narrative, the societal expectations and norms to shift… we have to make these small shifts ourselves. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities and beyond.
So now I know what you’re thinking- this shit takes work. I know. I tried to find loopholes and couldn’t… but I leave you with these tips in hopes that you can feel more understood and supported in your postpartum- specifically from your partner. A supported mom is an empowered mom and empowered moms change the world.

Date Night Planner for Marriage After Baby

Wondering how to take the work out of reconnecting with your partner? I have you covered. Grab this Free Date Night Planner so when you have the time, you can use it to really connect!

Postpartum

Postpartum Emotions: The Changes and Feelings to Expect as a New Mom

The Stages of Postpartum Emotions You May Experience

When it comes to postpartum emotions of new moms, we have a long way to go in normalizing how big and different these might be.

“Women are so damn emotional.”

The statement, often said as an insult to belittle the experiences and feelings we have, is actually something worth celebrating.

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

emotion+changes+after+a+baby-min.jpeg

Humans are Made to Be Emotional

Humans are emotional. This is nothing to be ashamed of- it’s in our makeup. We learn to navigate the world through a mix of logic and emotional response. Our body naturally creates factors that impact our emotional experience. Our autonomic nervous system causes our physical and mental reactions in an emotional response. Emotions allow us to feel and experience our life.

Somewhere down the line, women’s emotions have been discarded as a joke or a bother. We have been trained to push our emotions away and out in times when they should be flourishing and serving us. We start to see it in menstruation. The flux of hormones in our body creates higher intensity emotions.

There are jokes and skits about disregarding a woman at this time. Further down the line, there are the emotions of pregnancy. This is a time that is full of transformation for a woman and yet we so often hear “Oh, she’s just so emotional.” Or we even say it ourselves “Don’t mind me, I’m just emotional.” While there is some jest in the extremities we can experience, it doesn’t change the reality that these emotions are a biological response and are often telling us something important. Brush over them, and we miss a chance to really see the experience in its’ entirety.

RELATED: How Long is Postpartum?

Postpartum Emotions: They are Normal

Months later we enter postpartum. This time following childbirth where everything has undergone a change. In this time there are a number of factors contributing to our emotional response- each valid and each with a place in our transition. Again, these are not something to be ashamed of. They are wired in us for a reason and they can shine a light on areas we need to give attention to. Tuning into these emotions, through different stages of postpartum, can help us to be mindful and intentional in our postpartum time and give us the prompts we need to take proactive steps in our own healing.

In this post, I will walk you through 5 stages of Postpartum Emotions. As a postpartum coach, I’ve collected stories of hundreds of women. These stories have allowed me to dig into the transitions we all experience, the questions we all have, and the ways we can proactively address them so we can have the most fulfilling emotional transition in postpartum and beyond. You can also get guided processing through these stages in the Postpartum Together Small Groups.

HOW LONG IS POSTPARTUM?

First, how do we define postpartum? Some women think of postpartum as 6 weeks. This is because at 6(ish) week we have a follow up with our medical provider. At this appointment, we are given the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. We are usually cleared to “go back to normal” in things like sex and fitness. Many moms walk away thinking things should be “normal” without guidance and support on what this new normal might look or feel like for them. (Spoiler alert: This “normal” continues to change and evolve.)

Some women see postpartum as the equivalent to maternity leave. In America, the average maternity leave alloted is 12 weeks.  This means many moms get to the 3-month mark and feel the pressure to have control of these evolved areas of their life.

When referring to postpartum, I am referring to a period of time after a baby in which you feel you are transitioning. For the majority of women I surveyed, 2 years was the average amount of time they felt “in postpartum.” This feels like a good baseline for me as well. Maybe your postpartum period is shorter and maybe it is longer, but 2 years is the general time frame I’m referring to.

5 STAGES OF POSTPARTUM EMOTIONS

So what are these 5 stages and what are they made of?

the birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother

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Immediate Postpartum Emotions:
THE HOURS AFTER BIRTH.

This is marked by:

  • Hormonal fluctuation

  • Your connection with baby (be it a feeling of instant connection or not- neither is “right”)

  • Exhaustion from the birth

  • Feelings about the birth experience vs. your expectations prior to the birth

  • Internalized feelings about your abilities- instant ideas about your ability to be a mother.

    The immediate stage of postpartum is a sacred time where women need to feel honored in their emotions. There is not one “right” way to feel after birth. No matter your experience- take time to process what birth was like, how it shaped your view of yourself as a mother and what it spoke to you about the days ahead. This is a time to rest, push aside anything unnecessary and be present with yourself and immediate family.

Early Postpartum Emotions

THE FIRST WEEKS AFTER BIRTH.

This is marked by:

  • Fluctuating hormones (Most hormones take 6-8 weeks to balance. However, factors like thyroid and breastfeeding can cause this to be longer.)

  • Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Feelings about your “new” body

  • Feelings about your partner

  • Being needed 24/7

  • Expectations of others

The early stage of postpartum is a sensitive time when we are making intentional choices about this huge life transition. We are making these choices with limited sleep and fluctuation hormones. It is important during this time to draw boundaries to protect your own physical, mental and emotional health. This may mean boundaries around family and friends. This may mean boundaries around what you’re absorbing through social media, TV, etc. During this time you are being needed in a way you never have before and that leaves little room for rest and self-care. These boundaries are so important for our preservation and personal empowerment.

RELATED: The Breastfeeding Cookbook

Short-Term Postpartum Emotions

WEEKS TO MONTHS AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Hormones (yes, still!)

  • Presenting your “new self” to society

  • Returning to work/church/social groups/etc

  • The mental load of motherhood

  • Finding (or not) personal enjoyment

The short term stage of postpartum is a transition from a small circle to a larger circle. As you begin to return to old or new rhythms you are presenting a change version of yourself and learning how that integrates into old spaces. You are absorbing the mental load of motherhood as you work to create rhythms for yourself and your family unit. As you return to public spaces, you may feel overlooked as people dote over the baby but do not ask many questions about you. You may also be finding small pockets of time in which I encourage you to engage something for personal enjoyment- be it a hobby, friend, etc.brain neurological changes in postpartum

Mid-Term Postpartum Emotions

MONTHS AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Fog lifted

  • Possible identity crises/struggle

  • Internalized expectations from yourself

  • Perceived expectations from others

  • Balancing work/home/marriage/social

During these mid-term months, we start to think about who we are in a new season of life. You may be questioning or dialing in on our values and priorities. Additionaly, you may see changed friendships. You are putting more expectations on yourself as a mother and we are perceiving the expectation from others around us. We are working to find a balance- and balance does not mean everything is equal. This means we are figuring out what we need to sustain what is necessary. This is a common time women see their mental health needs as fog is lifted but they are not feeling “normal” like they expected to after the first few weeks of adjusting to motherhood. This is a great time to reach out to someone if you are still experiencing difficulty with mental health.

Long-Term Postpartum Emotions

postpartum lasts up to two years

MONTHS TO YEARS (2+) AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Feelings about the evolved self

  • Feelings about your evolved family and family role

  • Experienced social dynamics

  • Perception of achievement and purpose

As our children grow and become more independent, we see another transition as we see our evolved self and family. We are responding to our experiences socially now that our own dynamics have shifted. We are also grappling with what achievement and purpose mean to us. While some women preserve their pre-baby interest, some women struggle to return to them and others have new interests that emerge. This is a time to think about your personality type, your role within your family, friends, and community and find ways to experience your unique purpose and sense of achievement.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

POSTPARTUM, TOGETHER

Postpartum is an emotional time, but that does not have to be a negative phrase. Our emotions give us insight and can propel us forward into new seasons and ways of life. By being aware of these shifts, we can address them internally and with those near to us so that we can feel understood and empowered during this time.

Momma- no matter what stage you’re in (or will be in the future), your experience is valuable and seen. Gone are the days of “putting on a pretty face and brushing over anything uncomfortable.” We are here to show up, be present and be confident in our transitions and experiences. If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

What is/was the biggest transition you experienced emotionally in postpartum? When did you notice this most? Let me know in the comments!

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postpartum emotions and postpartum groups for new moms
motherhood, Postpartum

What You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

Myths About Motherhood

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things say to a new mom that actually can end up being harmful.

stop saying to new moms pin.png

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Stop Being a Fixer

Women are fixers, right? So we love to find something encouraging to say- something to make things more rosey. More than that, we feel like we have to have something to say. This is why so many people want to find the right things to say to a new mom. The idea of just letting another woman sit in discomfort and uncertainty- it’s maddening. This is probably the reason why so many things get passed on to new moms that are not always true and often not helpful.

Intentions are good, the result isn’t always. These words of wisdom or encouragement are often taken as expectations and norms and when they don’t pan out, a new mom is left feeling defeated and often like she has done something wrong. Being a new mom is full of transitions and emotions. The last thing we need is for a new mom to feel defeated and like she has done something wrong… can we agree on that?

Sound Advice or Harmful Myths?

From my own experience, and the conversations with clients and friends, I’m breaking down 5 Unhelpful Things We Say to New Moms. I’ll share why these are unhelpful and even offer an alternative way to approach the topic.

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things we pass down to new moms that actually can end up being harmful.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: You Will Lose the Baby Weight from Breastfeeding

do you lose weight from breastfeeding

There’s no doubt about it, breastfeeding burns calories. Whether you’re directly nursing or pumping, your body is doing a lot of work preparing that food! However, breastfeeding is not the only factor when it comes to postpartum weight. Experiences are different for everyone. It’s truly unfair to tell someone to breastfeed to lose weight.

  1. It doesn’t work that way. There are a plethora of other factors that go into weight change in postpartum. Also, some bodies see the biggest change when they wean. Even Serena Williams discusses in this article how she didn’t lose weight until she weaned. This is not a reason TO breastfeed or TO STOP. The overall theme is that bodies are different: body composition, stress, hormones, sleep, genetics… they all play a part. If someone says breastfeeding melted their baby weight off, she’s probably neglecting to realize there were other factors at play.

  2. Even saying this deduces the role of both breastfeeding and postpartum recovery. Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for women who chose to do so, but there are reasons way beyond weight. Losing weight is also not the overall goal of postpartum recovery, just as a reminder.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: PMADs Only Show Up in the First Few Weeks

At your 4-8 week (average 6) postpartum checkup, you’ll most likely be given an Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. This will have a series of questions to screen you for Postpartum Depression. While this is a good resource and step, this cannot be our main indicator of needing help with postpartum mood disorders. First, there are a number of postpartum mood disorders that may not be caught by this screening. Secondly, symptoms present themselves in different ways and at different times than we often anticipate.

Postpartum Mood Disorders can be sadness, lack of motivation, wanting to stay in bed, etc., but that is just one picture. It may also be heightened anxiety, becoming OCD, birth trauma PTSD,  having bi-polar episodes, rage, and more. These things do not just happen in the first weeks. In fact, according to Americanpregnancy.org, symptoms can start to show as late a one full year after delivery.

Some women fear to acknowledge their postpartum symptoms thinking that treatment would require them to stop breastfeeding. There are some risks, but overall research has shown the benefits outweigh the risks. You can read more about this here.

postpartum depression and anxiety can show up a year after birth

Don’t Say to a New Mom: It’s Love at First Sight

“You’re just going to fall in love as soon as you see him!” This phrase, while rooted in good intentions, can be very damaging. After the challenges of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, a mom feels things she never has before. Her body, her mind, her emotions have all taken a wild ride. Perhaps she’s exhausted. Perhaps she’s facing trauma. Perhaps she’s not sure how to handle the way life just changed forever. Perhaps she’s coming off of meds and feeling foggy. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions she can’t describe.

Perhaps she doesn’t feel love at first sight. Perhaps she isn’t smitten and giddy. Maybe she, understandably and rightfully, feels any other emotion. What then? Guilt. She feels guilty because she was told that she’d have this instant overcoming of love and if she’s not feeling that right away, she feels like she has missed the mark as a mom right from the start.

She’s not a bad mom.
She hasn’t done anything wrong.
She does and will love this baby deeply… but it may not be her first thought and experience and we have to be there to show up for her in that.
(Momma- if you’ve been carrying guilt about this, let it gooooo. You have a reason for whatever feelings and thoughts you had in those moments, and they do not define you as a mother. Feeling instant love doesn’t make you a better mom than someone who takes some time to transition into it.)

RELATED: Where We Learn about Postpartum

Don’t say to a New Mom: Breastfeeding Won’t Hurt

Seriously. Why are people still saying this? Your nipples- skin, ducts, and tissue- usually aren’t pulled, chomped, sucked four hours a day. Breastfeeding turns that all upside down when a little human who can hardly see and has no practice, starts to pull milk out of those nipples multiple times a day. There is no other part of our body that goes relatively “unused” for years and then, in an instant, becomes arguably the most used part of the body. Anything with that drastic of change is probably going to hurt.

Hear me out- I’m not saying it should be longstanding, crippling pain. There is a good reason for lactation consultants and they can help you to improve the teamwork of you and your baby- but overall, you’re probably going to have some pain. When anyone says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, I wonder how they define hurt. My son was considered a “great” eater with no tongue tie or lip tie and learned a great latch, but for a while, I was still digging my toes into the carpet at the thought of feeding. I was lathering up the lanolin, coconut oil, and whatever cream I could get my hands on and yet my chest was raw and painful for weeks. Did it get better, yep! We got to the point where there wasn’t pain or anxiety involved but I would never tell a new mom it won’t hurt.

RELATED: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class (eCourse)

Don’t Say to a New Mom: A Baby is Great for Your Marriage

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Marriage is tough. If you’ve been married for a few hours or more, you probably would agree. I love marriage but it’s the hardest thing I’ve done. I’ve heard people say that a baby will “Be great for your marriage” or “Bring you closer together.” Do you know what doesn’t really help something that’s rocky? An avalanche. I am head over heels for my kids, but I have no problem describing them as avalanches.

Kids come in and turn everything upside down. With them, they bring sleep-deprivation and high physical, mental and emotional needs. If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, a 2 am tiff over who is going to wash the sheets that have been shit and puked on probably isn’t going to turn things into roses.

There’s something incredible about seeing your partner turn into a parent. There are a lot of skills you learn in connecting in shorter time frames and being more creative about how to show your love. However, I would never prescribe a baby as a remedy for marriage woes. Improve as much of your relationship as you can before adding a baby in. Obviously, it’s never going to be perfect but again, don’t count on a baby to “fix” things. It’s both inaccurate and unfair.

Listening Ear Without Judgement Matters

Ladies, (I’m talking about the older generations and the current young moms) we owe it to one another to get real and gritty about motherhood- and to stand by one another in the awkward moments of uncertainty. Sometimes a fix isn’t the answer, but a listening ear without judgment is. If you don’t have something helpful to say, that’s okay. Just be there. No words are better than well-intentioned words that could set your friend up for failure.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Pumping

Hands-Free Pumping: Tips to Make it Easier

Pumping with the Medela Freestyle

This post is written in partnership with Medela who sent me a breast pump in exchange for my opinion and experience with hands-free pumping. My blog contains only my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links for related products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for products purchased through the link.

review of medela freestyle pump

Exclusively Pumping and My Breaking Point

“I’m not sure how long I can do this- plugged into the wall multiple times a day while trying to keep the kids safe and occupied.” Tears streamed down my face when I broke down to my husband. When we figured out that direct breastfeeding was not an option for her, the world of exclusively pumping entered my life. Exclusively pumping turned out to be more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I felt torn about breastfeeding. While I wanted to provide my daughter with breastmilk to the best of my ability, I also didn’t want to sacrifice our time together and my own mental state. There had to be a way to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Sure, I already had a hands-free pumping bra, but still, I needed to be mobile to keep up with my kids.

Breastmilk Isn’t Free

Whether you pump full time or part-time, you know the breastmilk you provide isn’t “free.
It’s comes from:

  • Hours of planning, washing, feeding, packing, and pumping.
  • Remembering to have all of your parts if you’re leaving home.
  • Choosing your clothing carefully and timing your outings accordingly.
  • Using your work break or child’s naptime to pump.
  • Taking care of each precious ounce and explaining to caretakers how to do the same.

    It’s a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make it more manageable and enjoyable for ourselves and other moms.

At first, I didn’t even know mobile pumping was an option. I assumed, like many women, that a pump needs to be big, bulky, and attached to the wall. So, I calculated 15-20 minutes for each feeding I was pumping for and saw myself losing independence and precious time with my kids. The more I learned, the more I was relieved. With a little digging, I found that companies like Medela are empowering moms through their pumping journeys.

I Needed Hands-Free Pumping for my Sanity

hard to pump with a baby and toddler at home

We all hit a point where we know we have to have something to help us continue the pumping journey. For me, it was my daughter’s surgery date approaching and knowing we would be in the hospital for a week or so. I needed mobility so I could be present for every doctor coming into the room. I needed to be able to multi-task effectively.

Enter the Medela Freestyle into my pumping story. Medela is a name I already trusted. Their Pump In Style is the first pump I used and the Symphony got me through our NICU stay. Not only that, but I was already using a number of pumping and feeding accessories from Medela, so it was a natural fit.

medela free style breast pump review

Questions about Hands-Free Pumping

Prior to its arrival, I had a few questions:
Would the battery life be too short?
Is the suction be comparable to my larger pump?
Would it be too bulky to actually carry around with ease?

As soon as it arrived, I was quick to test it. Setting it up was easy (thank goodness because I am not a fan of multi-step instruction manuals!)

Now I can often be found tucking or clipping the pump into my back pocket as I go about my day (yes, it’s small enough!)

My output in a pumping session is equivalent to my larger pump (and sometimes I get more out of a pumping session because I don’t have to stop to get up and chase a toddler then try to reconnect.)

The adjustable suction is great for women who are used to direct feeding or women who are more regularly using the pump.

The battery lasts me 3 days on average (using it multiple times a day) and the recharge is quick between pumps.

Multi-Tasking with Hands-Free Pumping

Fast forward to pumping while cooking, cleaning, and pushing my toddler on the swing. These days include pumping as I am getting the kids ready in the morning and cleaning up in the evenings. Do the kids want to go to the park or meet up with friends? It’s not a problem because I don’t have to be back in 3-4 hours just to pump. It’s not perfect- pumping is a labor of time and energy and organization, but being mobile while pumping sure does beat being stuck to the wall. I have pumped in the car, on a walk, in our backyard, at the hospital, at family gatherings, and all without being confined to the wall.

RELATED: Making Exclusive Pumping Easier

Tips for Success with Hands-Free Pumping

how to breast pump on the go
  1. Mobility

    When new moms ask me how to successfully breast pump for an extended time, my top answer is mobility. Being tied to the wall and having time “sucked” out of me quickly started to make me feel discouraged and resentful. Pumping felt like a full-time job and I struggled thinking about what I was missing out on by being tied to the pump. The shift to mobile pumping not only was a physical shift but a mental and emotional one too. No longer does pumping taking away from my time with my family. It no longer keeps me stuck on the couch. No longer does it control the timeline of my day.

  2. Support

While mobility has been the top factor for me in overcoming pumping struggles, the second biggest factor is support. We get tired. We get frustrated and have dips in supply. Sometimes we feel “pumped out.” There’s no ideal amount of time to pump, but at any point, support can make all of the difference. Need to track your pumping time or volume? My Medela App gives you a way to keep tabs on it all from your phone. And when you need to troubleshoot or hear from others? Mom’s Room Breastfeeding Support creates a safe space for you.

If you’re a pumping mom- whether exclusively or partially, find ways to make it mobile for you. There are numerous resources and products designed just for this. We reduce the stigma and educate others on their options by finding ways to make it work for us, uniquely. Find your way and be proud of the commitment you’re making! You’re a great mom. Are you pumping and traveling? Pumping on the go? I took the work out of packing your bag with this Free Pump and Travel Checklist.

Postpartum

How Long Is The Season Of Postpartum After Birth

FOURTH TRIMESTER AND BEYOND

Right before having my baby, I saw a hashtag movement: #thisispostpartum. It felt empowering to see and was just what I needed before birth to take confidence in all the changes my body had already undergone and was about to go through. I vowed to be a part of this movement of authenticity. I vowed to show more of the unglamorous parts of being a new mom. I vowed to show up not just in the posed family pictures, but the wide range of emotions and experiences that come with postpartum after birth. I vowed to experience the whole season of postpartum and not limit myself to weeks or three months.

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

 

 

How Long is Postpartum After Birth?

I hit the six-week mark and visited my midwives for a follow-up appointment. By some measures, I had come through the “postpartum period” and yet I still felt so NEW and evolving. I continued to use the hashtag and to discuss postpartum.

More than the Fourth Trimester/3 Months

I hit the 3-month mark- the time when women in America are expected to be back to work (if not before.) Surely by now, things were back to normal, right? Surely I wasn’t still talking about my body, emotions, and mentality as if it were related to my new child. Sure I’ had moved on and gotten my life together. And yet, I continued to discuss postpartum and a period of transition because it still felt raw and new. 

More than the Length of US Maternity Leave

Here I sit at 6 months post-baby, and yet I still consider myself postpartum. When my hormones are out of whack when I look in the mirror and see a different body than I previously knew when I struggle to connect in ways I used to when I feel the conflicts of different areas of my life demanding my attention… I still call this postpartum. 

RELATED: Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Who decided that we can put a timeframe on postpartum?

Milestones: Postpartum After Birth is Days, Weeks, Months

Women believe the first postpartum milestone is six weeks- the time you usually have a check-up with your provider and can be cleared to “get back” to activities. Milestone #2 is commonly accepted as that 12 week period- when we are expected to be back at work (if not already). 

Postpartum is the season of adjustment and change- physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and personally (a series of experiences I’ve coined as “The 5 Pillars of Postpartum”) that follow the birth of a child (and as reproductive psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks says, “The Birth of a Mother.” 

We don’t have to let some societal construct be the timeline by which we judge our personal growth, change, and “achievement.” We are not timelines and charts.

Hormones and Body Changes in Postpartum After Birth

Hormones

Even past the early weeks, we have hormonal shifts. Our hormones continue to change and fluctuate. Relaxin. Prolactin. Oxytocin. Estrogen. Progesterone. Things that can continue to affect our hormones and emotional experience include bonding, feeding or weaning, change in time spent with baby, the return of the menstrual cycle, etc.

Physical Body

Our physical body- it’s still healing. It’s still changing. It’s still balancing feeding another human and maintaining ourselves.

Our body looks different than it ever has because it’s in a season it’s never been in before.

Our bodies weren’t made to “bounce back to normal” because they have been through so much-given so much-grown so much. These bodies serve a much bigger purpose than how they look in a bathing suit as summer approaches. At 6 months- my body is still postpartum and it is still brilliant. 

If it takes longer than 6 weeks for your body to drop the “baby weight” that’s totally normal. If you never have the same numbers on the scale and the same curves in the same places, that’s totally normal. If your clothes never fit the same way, that’s normal. 

If you’re 3 months after-baby and your hormones still feel in flux, that’s natural. If your relationships are still transitioning, it’s okay. If you’re still figuring out your new identity- you’re not alone. 

No Perfect Timeline of Postpartum After Birth

Someone somewhere decided to put a time frame on postpartum and it seemed to stick. Maybe we need a new name for the six week-twoish years after a baby, but maybe we could just stop putting the pressure on ourselves and others and ground in the truth that this is STILL postpartum and we are allowed to STILL be changing, unsure, growing and figuring out a new “normal.”
Tell me- have you felt rushed to be “back to normal” after a baby? What do you wish someone would have said to you in your postpartum period?

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

Are you looking for education, normalization, and support through your postpartum? Maybe Postpartum Together is a good fit for you.

Birth

Homebirth Waterbirth Story

The Birth I Dreamed of: A Homebirth Story


mom holds baby for the first time after a birthing pool home birthmom holds baby for the first time after a birthing pool home birth

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

A Birth Plan

I never imagined I would feel so deeply and passionately about pregnancy and birth. To be honest, I hadn’t given it too much though throughout life and just figured it… you know… just happens. You get pregnant. You are pregnant. You go into labor. You go to the hospital. You have a baby and then you just know how to take care of said baby. To some extent, I suppose this is mildly accurate, but I’m extremely thankful for all I’ve learned along the way about options, priorities, and how to make the experience personal and a part of our life story to be deeply considered and meaningful to us.

We had a home birth planned from around 2 or 3 months in. Around the same time, we decided I would deliver in the water if at all possible to enjoy the benefits of aiding in laboring pain and alleviating pressure. Our set up was ready a couple of weeks ahead of time:

On Saturday, August 6th, I woke up to a little bit of a “bloody show” and figured that meant we had a day or two before meeting our little guy.  I went on a walk with my mother in the morning. We took our familiar route and made it up the hill that had become more and more difficult for me over the last couple of weeks. I felt good, but I was also starting to feel contraction pains. My mom quickly download a contraction timing app and we timed them for the rest of the walk. They were about 30 seconds long and 3-5 mins apart at the time. These started around 9am.

EARLY LABOR

We kept timing these contractions for a couple of hours and they were consistent, but still pretty weak and short. I just knew, though, that this was the time. It’s crazy how people say you “just know” and I wasn’t sure that I would… but deep in my soul I was positive that my body was about to do the miraculous work. We called the midwives around 12noon and let them know we would keep them posted on things.

Since we knew the time was coming, Mike and I took a nap and went out to lunch.

 The contractions continued, but hadn’t increased in intensity yet so we decided to go out on the boat with my parents. We went out around 4 and as we were coming back around 7, I felt a shift. The contractions took a different turn and got stronger- to the point where I had to pause and couldn’t continue my conversation through them. Mike and I walked back home from the boat dock and I had to pause each time a contraction hit. The time was coming!

We again checked in with the midwives and while they thought we still had some time, being a first time mom they came out to support the journey and arrived at our house around 10pm. My mother ran to the grocery store to stock us up on snacks for the night and I quickly retreated to the bedroom where I stayed for hours. During that time, I was so so thankful for the Bradley Method practice Mike and I had committed to. For months, we had practiced breathing through contractions, communicating during that time and using different positions and techniques for pain management. (Plus we had practiced massages, which came in handy for sure!) I tried to labor in the bed so that I could sleep between contractions (since it was night time and I knew there was a lot of work ahead) but it was difficult- I felt the pain was a bit more intense for me in the laying position and the couple minutes of sleep were quickly interrupted by the next contraction. I opted for spending a large chunk of my time on my knees on the floor and my head resting on the bed- it seemed to be a better position for contraction pain and ease of breathing and it allowed Michael to take a supportive role behind me with rubbing my shoulders and back. At some points it seemed the time was going by so slowly, but before I knew it, it was 2 in the morning and I needed to leave the bedroom for a change of scenery.

RELATED: Birth It Up! Natural Birth (eCourse)


how to labor at home for a home birthhow to labor at home for a home birth

ACTIVE LABOR

We ventured out to the living room where the midwives and my mother were on the couch. It was a night for them of in and out sleep and late night conversations while monitoring me (in a very non-invasive way, thank goodness) and preparing the space for the birthing to take place. I found relief sitting on the stairs through contractions and leaning forward against Michael. He was continually supportive in helping me to breathe deeply and remain calm.

By around 4:30am I knew I was ready to get into the pool. The pool had already been partially filled, so the team worked to fill it up the rest of the way and create a good temperature for me to be in. My body was craving the relief of the warm water and a change up. I could tell at this point that each surge was getting us closer to holding our baby.

Shortly after getting into the pool, Hannah, one of our midwives, checked my dilation and I had gone from 5 to 7. She said it was shortly after getting into the pool that I started the transition period. THIS WAS BRUTAL. Up to this point I felt like I had handled my contractions pretty well and had been able to breathe through them and use visualization. I was tired, but not yet overwhelmed. As the surges got stronger, though, there was definitely a time when my will power felt like it was diminishing. It was during these strong and frequent contractions that I considered asking to be taken to the hospital for drugs or a C-Section to get rid of the pain, but I never verbalized it and things continued to progress in a way that I didn’t have much time or mental space to think about anything but getting through each contraction.  One by one. My support team was amazing at helping me to concentrate on where we were in each moment- not getting ahead of myself and not getting overwhelmed.

It didn’t take long for any thoughts of leaving home to go away and be replaced by the excitement (though still drenched in pain) of how close we were. There were three things that continued running through my mind during these transition contractions.:

1. Shaun T’s quote from Insanity Max: 30 (the fitness program I was doing when I found out I was pregnant and that pushed me mentally more than anything I’d ever accomplished up to that point.)

2. The theme from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt “Females are strong as hell”

3. The signs that I had hanging on the wall right in front of me when I was in the pool


birthing pool homebirth storybirthing pool homebirth story

These transition contractions lasted until 6:30 am when I started to feel the urge to push and the midwives agreed that it was time to move into the pushing stage. While I had used a couple different positions in the pool for laboring in contractions, when it came to pushing, I found one position that worked for me and refused to move from that position.

The pushing stage was unlike anything I could ever have anticipated. I knew it would be painful. I knew it would be a challenge, but the feelings went beyond my imagination. It wasn’t just the pain, but the complete shock of something so different from anything I had ever felt. This is when my peaceful deep breaths were no longer the norm and I couldn’t help but to let out long loud grunts through each push. To be honest, I felt animalistic but in retrospect, that makes total sense to me.

MY BODY IS POWERFUL. MY BODY CAN BIRTH THIS BABY

I just kept pushing through each urge and was amazed at how clearly my body indicated to me when it was time to push and when it was time to relax. It’s as if the body knows exactly what it’s doing and was made just for this. There were a few times when my midwives had to direct me to breathe it out and not push, and I’m glad they did that to save me from tearing. During some of these surges, I found myself doubting whether I could do it. Wishing I could just hit a “pause” button and come back to it when I felt stronger. I asked the birth team if they really thought this was going to work or if they had been tricking me into something. I felt desperate. It was about that time when the midwives announced that he was crowning and they thought that he would be in my arms in 15-20 minutes. At that point I knew I had done this for hours and hours and 15-20 more minutes was completely feasible. I felt like I had regained strength. Within the next couple of pushes, his head was partially out and I had to hold it without pushing for a few breaths… that was probably the most uncomfortable point of all. The midwives asked if I wanted to reach back and feel his head and as much as I was filled with anticipation, I could not fathom the idea of moving and so I just stayed put, focused on holding, breathing, and pushing. Within the next two pushes, our little miracle had slid out into the water.

As soon as the midwives held him up, he let out a giant cry and informed the world of his presence. e stayed in the pool for awhile, bonding and letting him do the breast crawl and get his first latch as we began our relationship of breastfeeding. It was as if he knew exactly where to go and what to do. Simply amazing. During that time, I delivered the placenta and we eventually made our way out of the pool and into the bedroom.

Being in our own home was such a gift. We moved into our bedroom and continued feeding, had a check up on mommy and had Emerson’s first check up.

RELATED: Natural Hospital Birth Story


how do midwives check baby after homebirthhow do midwives check baby after homebirth

He weighed in at 8lb 10 oz, 21.5 inches. He displayed great reflexes and didn’t take long to have his first poo.

As we lay there in our bed, the three of us, my family and the midwives were kindly cleaning up the house, preparing an herb bath for me, doing laundry, and making sure we had what we would need for our first hours and days of bonding. For months, Michael and I had discussed name possibilities. We actually had it narrowed down to 4 options which we both felt pretty good about. Once we saw him, though, none of those names seemed to fit just right. I was thankful we had left this one open and we lay there gazing at our baby boy and “trying on” different names until Emerson Wesley came up and we both agreed that was our son.


homebirth story first time momhomebirth story first time mom

DO YOU LOVE BIRTH STORIES? MY SECOND BIRTH STORY, BIRTHING SAGE, WAS MUCH DIFFERENT FROM THIS HOME BIRTH EXPERIENCE. READ MORE HERE.

Pumping

Easier Exclusive Pumping

BREAST PUMPING: TIPS TO MAKE IT EFFICIENT AND MANAGEABLE

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Are you exclusively pumping? Pumping to build a stash? Wondering if you’ll need to pump when baby comes?

When you google “Motherhood,” you don’t often come across pictures of a breast pump with tubing and plastic that connects to your body. Breast pumping, whether exclusively pumping or pumping along with breastfeeding to build a stash, adds a new element to motherhood.

First, as reproductive women, anything in a committed relationship with our breasts brings out an element of intimacy which involves a physical connection, emotional connection, and a mental connection.

There are a number of reasons why a woman may choose to breast pump, and a variety of ways to do so.
There are a number of products that make this journey easier.
There are tips to ensure that it is both effective and comfortable.
Just like with breastfeeding, there are also complications that can creep in and require troubleshooting.

We are going to talk about each of these areas.

RELATED: The Ultimate Exclusively Pumping Class (eCourse)


pumping with larken X brapumping with larken X bra

As a disclaimer, I am not a medical expert nor am I a certified lactation consultant/counselor (you can find a great one here). I am simply an experienced mother who is wildly passionate about learning and education on postpartum, and I have been both a breastfeeder and an exclusive pumper. My first son was a avid breastfeeder, my daughter was born with cleft palate and unable to breastfeed from the start, so I have found myself in two distinct places in regards to feeding.

WHO MIGHT CHOOSE TO EXCLUSIVELY PUMP?

Mothers of babies with breastfeeding complications.
Mothers who had a tough breastfeeding journey previously.
Mothers who need to be away from baby often (career, travel, etc.).
Mothers who want to closely monitor baby’s milk intake.
Mothers who have adopted and are working to induce lactation (isn’t this amazing!?)
Mothers who just simply want to go this route. (For any of a number of reasons they don’t need to explain.)

WHY BREASTMILK?

Many moms chose to include breastmilk (whether as the sole mean of feeding or as a combination with formula) because of the many benefits of breastmilk. Breastmilk provides natural antibodies to the baby, increases the immune system, and has a number of long-term effects as well. For the mother, breastfeeding can lower the risk of a number of illnesses and diseases.

The amount of breastmilk a mother provides can vary based on the mother’s supply. Some women are over-producers, some are just-enoughers and some are under-producers. There’s no magic equation here. It’s not about what moms do right or wrong, but knowing our bodies are biologically different in many ways, and milk production is one of them. Some women who struggle with production actually have insufficient glandular tissue which limits the capability of milk production. If this sounds like you, please consult a professional and do NOT feel shame!

BREAST PUMPING EFFICIENCY


how to pump while drivinghow to pump while driving

Maximize your pumping by multitasking. Now, this is not always possible but if you have an errand to run, pump in the car. If you have a paper or blog to write, try to cozy up in a spot where you can pump. Sometimes, you might even pump during lunch or dinner. It’s not ideal, but it’s your reality and by embracing it, you can enjoy it more instead of resent that machine attached.

I have found that it is imperative to have a “team” around you while pumping. This team is made up of products made to support you on this journey. These products help to make multitasking possible and decrease the time spent on the process.

RELATED: Amazon Breast Pumping Shopping List

Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
Think about how many minutes you are pumping. If you’re stuck holding flanges, you might go crazy. This time can be spent doing other things and a hands-free pumping bra makes that possible. You may even find you want more than one as these serve different purposes.
1. They get dirty/milky so they need to go in the wash. If you’re like me, 3-4 hours between pumps might not be enough time to get the laundry through.
2. Keep one in the car or your diaper bag. This ensures you’re never stuck without one on-the-go or when you get stuck at an appointment longer than usual.
3. Different bras are helpful for different reasons/times.

The Larken X:
Why I love it: It’s super comfortable and really easy to slide the flanges into. It’s also chic and makes me feel cute! You can pair it with their tank to get full tummy coverage too.
When I use it: When it’s easier to just keep a pumping bra on under my clothes, when I’m sleeping, when I want to be comfortable.
Bonus: Get 15% off at Larken with the code: CHELSEA15 (Shop here)

Simple Wishes Hands-Free:
Why I love it: It has a super snug fit when adjusted to your body size. This makes me feel like I’m getting the best suction to empty my breast. It’s quick to put on and can be put on over what you’re already wearing.

Belibea Nurish Cami:Why I love it: This tank is unlike any I’ve seen before. It has a double latch feature so that you can breastfeed or pump with it. One snap allows you to fit the pump flange inside for pumping. The double snap opens all the way up for feeding. I also love that you can have the comfort of the full tank (which includes shaping features on the side.)
When I use it:
Anytime I want to use the tank as a part of my outfit for the day.
Bonus: Get 20% off your purchase with CHELS20


belibea pumping and nursing cami tankbelibea pumping and nursing cami tank

CLEAN AND MOBILE PUMPING

Car Converter:If you spend time in the car, using that time to pump can be so efficient. You may or may not be comfortable with having your breasts and pump out while driving (I recommend staggering your car at the stop light!) but a simple nursing cover will give you the privacy. I personally use my Medela In Style pump in the car so I use this converter (which also comes with a battery pack- another helpful tool! Make sure to grab 8 rechargeable batteries so you can take your pump on-the-go. I use the battery pack and stick my pump in a backpack for walks!) If you use a different pump type, you can find your converter type online.

Sterilizing wipes: If you’re pumping on-the-go and can’t wash your parts, sterilizing wipes in the car or diaper bag are very helpful. Give the parts a quick cleaning to make sure bacteria does not build between pump sessions.
Medela Breast Pump Sterilizing Wipes (can be used on any brand of breast pump)

Sterilizing Bags: It is recommended that bottles and pump parts be sterilized once a day. Now you can boil a pot of water and do it that way, OR you can pop 2 oz of water into these bags with your parts and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Each bag can be used 20 times!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me take a task off your brain with this Free Pumping and Traveling Checklist so that you know you have everything you need!


TIPS FOR EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING EFFICIENTLY:

1. Get your pump!
Most insurance companies offer a free pump. Make sure to call while you are still pregnant and ask about the policy and what is offered to you. They will most often send you a link where you can choose a pump (you can compare pumps here). Try to get your pump before delivery so that you can set it up and learn to use it. If you do not wish to get your own pump through insurance (or if that is not an option for you,) you can often rent the medical grade pumps from the hospital. Ask your medical provider prior to delivery if you’d like to explore this option.  Most exclusive pumpers use a dual electric pump. This is going to pump both breasts at the same time and have the electric suction. Not only is this helpful for saving time, but many women report better output when pumping both breasts at the same time.

2. Know your flange size. Flange is a word you probably only use if you’re a pumper. The flange goes directly on the breast and mimics the mouth of the infant on the breast. It is important to have the correct flange size so that the breast is pumping most effectively.

3. Get your partner involvedYour partner can help you when you are pumping. Washing parts each night/morning and helping with milk storage can help cut down on the time spent on the process. Less time can help lower the stress of pumping for a mother and help her to increase the length of her pumping journey. Another way your partner can help is by feeding the baby while you pump. Think of this as special time to chat together!

4. Know what to look for in breast complications Just like with direct breastfeeding, complications can arise when breast pumping (or combo feeding.) Mastitis and thrush are two concerns you can be educated about so that you know if you’re being affected and how to address the issue. If you think you’re facing one of these complications, contact a lactation counselor or your medical provider for help.
So momma- high five to you. Whether you are an exclusive pumper, a sometimes pumper or thinking about pumping in the future, your commitment is not overlooked! Pumping is hard work, I won’t sugar coat that. Hopefully with this information and these tips you’ll find ways to make it efficient, effective, and a way of life for you and your family.
What questions do you still have about pumping? If you’re an experience mom, what has gotten you through your pumping journey? Let’s keep the conversation going below!

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marriage, motherhood

Working Together with Your Partner After Baby

5 WAYS TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM

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SOMETIMES MY HUSBAND DRIVES ME NUTS.

No one in their right mind will tell you that parenting is a breeze. On top of that, we know that doing this new, messy, and overwhelming journey while trying to keep clear and positive communication with a partner can be… well… challenging and can leave you fighting with your husband over parenting styles or feeling alone. There are, though, ways to remember you’re on the same team in parenting and improve marriage and parenting communication and collaboration.

At work, you know that operating cohesively takes a plan and intention. Some things are emotional, some are logistical. The mix of both is needed and parenting isn’t any different. These 5 communication tips just might help you increase understanding, decrease assumptions, be efficient and purposeful and enjoy your time together as a family more. (As always on this page- every family and dynamic is different and I don’t believe in “flawless how-tos” so know that some of these will apply to you, some might not, and you might have other ideas to add!)

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Sex and Intimacy

always mad at my husband since we had a baby
  1. LISTS, LISTS AND MORE LISTS

Keeping tabs on what needs to be done can be key. In our home, we have tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3.
Tier 1: Non-negotiables. Worth losing sleep for.
Tier 2: It would benefit our life if we did these things. Choose them over most other options in “free” time
Tier 3: This would be really nice, but doesn’t come before sleep or other means of sanity seeking.

Lists can take the form of digital or tangible, but don’t leave them to mental. That never turns out well. Call it a “to-do” list or give it a name that feels fun to you.

Here are a few suggestions:
Anylist: Keep a running grocery list. If someone is out and can stop, they know what is needed. Share the list and you can both add to it anytime you notice you’er running low on something or have a new recipe in mind. This takes out the “Remember, I asked you to pick up ____?” Nope.

Trello: This app is often used for business, but is very relevant to sharing the tasks that need done in the family. You can create shareable boards and “cards” on each board. Make the boards your “tiers” and the cards the tasks that need completed. You can move them when completed.

Google Doc: You know how sometimes you start a heavy conversation at an inopportune time because you don’t want to forget about it or miss your chance? Doesn’t usually pan out well, does it? Share a running Google Doc where you can write the conversation topics you want to address when you have the time. (Make sure to schedule this time weekly/nightly/what works for you!) When you get a chance to talk, pull up the document and get the conversation going when you’re not in the heat of the moment.

Whiteboard on the fridge: No app here. Classic, simple, easy.

2. MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR

We have a tendency to believe that other people know what we are thinking. Usually, we don’t marry mind-readers so this doesn’t work out well.  Clear expectations can be key. Sometimes it means saying what you think should be abel to be left unsaid. Over-communicate for clarity and understanding. You’re going to want to set up expectations at different times, too, as they are always evolving. Perhaps you walk through the house and address anything you can think of in each room. Take notes if needed (that Google shared document again!) Have clear lines that divide you and your responsibilities and have shared things that can be picked up in a spare moment. Schedule your “you” time too so you know it is a priority and a time that the other can’t expect you to be diving into the to-do lists or picking up extra responsibilities.

RELATED: Postpartum Together Small Groups (We get real about ways to make partnership work!)

3. ROOT DOWN AND REMEMBER

Take time to root down in your values as a couple.
Create a vision board together.
Return to your 1 year, 5 year, 10 year goals and plans.
Revisit what made you start this journey together.
Have conversations that are filled with dreams AND take time to acknowledge together the goals you have accomplished and the dreams you’re fulfilling.

Remember- you are in a season. Some days it feels like a lifetime, but this season is not forever. Roles, expectations, needs- they will continue to change. Marriage in each season brings challenges, but sticking together helps ease through them.

how to share the mental load in parenting

4. LET YOUR PARTNER HAVE HIS/HER OWN WAY OF PARENTING.

Have you ever found yourself subtlety (or not so subtlety) telling your partner that you’d do it this way  or ___ isn’t good for the baby/child? Do you find yourself leaving too descriptive of an agenda when you’re leaving the house? Might you be a helicopter partner? Chill out a bit. Your partner is a parent too and he/she has made it this far- let them parent and parent their own way. (This doesn’t apply if you have reason to not trust your partner, in which case, that’s a bigger conversation than we’re having here.)

5. DATE YOUR PARTNER

Have date nights with the rule of NOT talking home logistics, parenting, etc. You are parents, but you are still partners and individuals and you need time to talk about the things that brought you together and keep you building your life together. This is a great time to revisit those goals and dreams. Watch comedy and laugh. Share what you’ve been doing or reading outside of parenting. Do a hobby together. I KNOW I KNOW it’s really hard to get a date (sitters, bedtimes, finances, etc.). It doesn’t even have to be out, you can check out these great ideas (I seriously NEED those pretzels!) for some at-home date nights ideas for when the kids are sleeping (That happens now and then, right?)

So remember- in the midst of this all- you are a TEAM. Communicating and collaborating takes intention. It takes time in the moments you feel like you don’t have a second to spare. It takes listening and speaking truthfully. But you- you can do it. You’ve got this. It won’t always be pretty (let me just normalize that because I KNOW it’s true) but you’ve got this.

Need to make it easier? Download this quick and easy Date Night Planner so that when the moment comes, you can get right to a date you enjoy!

communicating with your husband after having a baby

You’re on the same team: Team grow the kids, keep the house livable, have personal growth and fulfillment, and love one another.

The seasons change and so do you. Communicate. Collaborate. Celebrate. Do these things together as often as possible.

Tell me- how do you and your partner stay on the same team?


working from home with your partner

Related: Sex After Baby