motherhood, Postpartum

Improved Maternity Leave in the US Could Save Lives

Imagine a world where women did not have to rush their body recovery after giving birth. A world where women did not have to choose between feeding their babies and going back to the workplace. A place where women are given the time and support to mentally and emotionally recuperate after a huge life transition. Imagine fathers and partners with more opportunities to get to know the newborn and help their partner heal. Where employee turnover rates after birth were not so high. This is imagining a world with maternity leave policies that support and care for families.

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

We Should Not Have to Dream of Better Maternity Leave

To cut to the point we should not have to imagine this. We should be able to live it. The United States is a progressive country. An adequate maternity leave and parental leave policy should not be hard to imagine. According to the UNICEF Office of Research, the United States falls last on parental leave policies of high and middle-income countries. The United States is the only country in the world that does not guarantee paid parental leave. How progressive. How “land of the free, home of the brave.”


This is bullshit.

As a Postpartum and New Mom Coach, I get to work with clients around the world. Most of my clients are in the United States. These clients face the struggle of deciding if and when to take maternity leave, and how to make up for unpaid time off. My clients from other countries come with different experiences. Places like Canada, France, and Ireland (to name a few places I have had clients from), share their maternity leave with a different approach. You can see how the US compares to other countries when it comes to maternity leave policies.

The Result of Shitty Maternity Leave in the United States?

-Increased rates of mental health struggles.
-Increased rates of divorce or marriage strain.
-Decreased rates of breastfeeding.
-More turnover within the workplace.
-Unaddressed pelvic floor issues.
-Higher rates of infant mortality.

Yes, lack of maternity leave is a deadly problem in the United States and one of the most pro-life things we can do is to address and improve parental leave and care.

In a recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16% of employees in 2018 had access to paid family leave. SIXTEEN PERCENT. That is not a lot. This same study found that 88% of employees had access to unpaid family leave (FMLA). This leaves 12% with nothing to protect their job if they decide to take any time off for the birth of a child. For those of you who have not birthed a child, allow me to include here that it is no small task. Time to recover without losing your job should not be a luxury. Time to recover, maintain your job, and get paid should not be a luxury.

There are currently only 8/50 US States, and the District of Columbia which have a State Paid Family Leave law. These laws differ by state, but go beyond the federal laws and offerings.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3056957/this-is-what-paid-leave-looks-like-in-every-us-state

 

The Struggles We Face With Poor Maternity Leave

When we are not providing adequate coverage for women after giving birth, we are taking away from her and her family, and our society as a whole.

Our capitalistic values can only go so far before we hit a wall and see a breakdown in families and individuals. We are already seeing it.

Infant Mortality & Wellness

According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, the implication is made that “Providing a needs-based income replacement policy to mothers who wish to take parental leave after the birth of a child may be the best policy to decrease IMR for infants from all socioeconomic backgrounds.” There are a number of factors that could impact this outcome. The mental health of the mother being a big factor. Another leading factor is when a mother has paid leave time, she is not forced to use all of her PTO for maternity leave, allowing her to save hours and days to attend necessary pediatric appointments and keep tabs on her baby’s wellness.

Women can also experience healthier prenatal care when they are not concerned with saving all of their paid or unpaid work leave for the postpartum period.

Mental Health of Mothers

There are a number of factors when it comes to a mother’s postpartum mental health. When thinking about maternity leave there are direct impacts. One is the lack of rest a mom gets (in general) and even more when returning to work. The body takes around 18 months to heal. Hormones take months to regulate. Many moms find themselves more stressed with the pressures of childcare, logistics, fitting in appointments, breastmilk supply (if applicable), and more.

Breastfeeding

For families who choose to breastfeed, improved maternity leave policies lead to improved breastfeeding outcomes. A recent California study shows marked increase in breastfeeding duration for women who have paid medical leave.

Partner Involvement

This article is primarily focuses on maternity leave. However, it is important to also note the lack of overall parental leave (including partners) can lead to a lack of partner involvement. Retuning to work early can interfere with bonding and also make relationship balance difficult. Partners who are able to take that time for early bonding, interaction, and involvement are more likely to continue being involved parents.

Employee Morale and Turnover After Maternity Leave

If the benefits for the family are not enough (though they should be), companies and capitalism would benefit. High turnover happens around insufficient maternity leave policies. The cost of employee turnover includes trainings, the loss of knowledge from an existing employee, HR costs and beyond. Maintaining a good employee who is also a mother is in the company’s best interest.

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Female Workplace Leadership

Women who are able to return to their place of work once they have had sufficient time to recover and enter into motherhood are more likely to advance in their workplaces. The fear of losing a job from taking time off can impact the confidence and performance of a working parent, though women particularly feel this. Also, normalizing and standardizing maternity leave across companies would remove the pressure some women feel to return to work before their leave or not take their full leave in fear of losing opportunities or advancements.

What Women Have to Say About the Benefits of Improved Maternity Leave

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

I asked members of my community to share how paid maternity leave would have impacted their decisions and experience. Here are a few of the responses:

Back to Work with a 6 Week Old With No Sick Days

“The leave I had that was unpaid was nearly impossible. I had saved all my sick and vacation days and would have to pick to use one to three of those days a week just so I had some money coming in. Which meant I went back to work with a just six week old baby and absolutely no time off to use if either of us were sick. It added a lot of extra stress. Taking leave without pay is often a dicey choice and I couldn’t afford to lose my job. It just was an exhausting juggling feat.”

With my Third, I resigned.

I would have still had vacation/PTO to use later in the year, instead I had zero time off and had to work over to cover appointments until more time accrued. For my third I took FMLA until I officially resigned. FMLA was nice as it allowed us to slowly settle into a lower income and get a budget in order before I was totally cut off.

I Could have Returned to Work

I would have had money to save to eventually pay for a sitter /childcare, but instead, I just can’t afford to work. Of course, the cost of childcare is a whole separate issue, but at least this would have helped. Also, I might have felt valued as an employee and chosen to return to my prior workplace.

A Good Policy: Peace of Mind

I took 3 months and was paid by employer. They were fantastic. I did part time work to stay plugged in during the little’s naps, but I had so much peace of mind.

Two Different Maternity Leave Experiences

With Landon I did not have any paid maternity leave so I had to go back to work pretty quickly and even the little time I was off we racked up credit card bills. The amount of stress that I was under was crazy! And you know stress causes other problems to like lack of milk production which just made me stress even more that I wasn’t producing enough And I wasn’t back to work and we had 1 million bills. It was a viscous cycle.

Fast Forward 8 1/2 years and with this pregnancy I had maternity leave and disability pay because I was on bedrest and never went without a paycheck.. My overall pay was decreased because we get 80% of our total pay and I also was not working on the ambulance or at the college so there was 0% for that… Even the 80% was amazing we were able to readjust our lives. I was home all the time so we were eating in more and we were watching our spending and somehow during my leave we were actually able to even put Money into savings. Way less stressed this time around.

I Didn’t Take Care of Myself Because of Costs

Being first time parents is hard enough without added extreme financial struggles to the mix. I had postpartum anxiety and depression that I didn’t seek treatment for until a year postpartum because I worried it would cost too much. I wasn’t eating healthy foods because cheap foods are less healthy. My husband and I went on one date in the first year and one again during the second year.

Postpartum Depression

I had terrible postpartum (depression) that stemmed from having to leave my daughter before I was ready. I had 6 weeks of 60% pay from long term disability and 2 weeks of vacation. If I had been given the opportunity to stay home longer, I honestly think my mental health would not have suffered as significantly as it did. My mental health was the biggest area that was affected by short term “leave”.

America is Better than This: We Could Thrive With Improved Maternity Leave Laws & Policies

With all of this information both anecdotally and research-based, we can conclude that paid and sufficient maternity leave is beneficial for our society as a whole. Imagine a whole generation with adequate time to adjust and recover. There is progress happening on a number of fronts, but it cannot happen fast enough. If you believe in this, here are a few things you can do:

1. Share this post. Share it with friends, family, your HR director, on LinkedIn, etc.

2. Talk to your company about maternity leave policies. Ask what it would take for these policies to be approved.

3. Keep your eyes out for petitions and advocacy opportunities in your state or on a federal level.

4. Speak up. Use your voice and your story to continue the conversation and influence change. 

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

motherhood, Postpartum

Mom Guilt: Why it’s Bullsh*t and How to Give it the Middle Finger

When you bring up the term “mom guilt” women will open up about their story: Working mom guilt, stay at home mom guilt, single mom guilt, daycare guilt, household guilt.

There are so many things we can feel guilty about as new moms.

Today we’re talking more about this guilt. We’ll discuss where it comes from and how we can work to overcome mom guilt so that we can be more present and confident in motherhood.

Watch it:

Read it: The transcript

Hello and welcome back to that Taboo ABCs of Postpartum!

G is for guilt and we are talking about working mom guilt stay at home mom guilt, bottle feeding guilt, nursing guilt, introverted mom guilt extroverted mom guilt…
You guys, there are so many freaking ways to feel mom guilt.

Many New Moms Feel Guilt

Every single time I talk to a new mom, I hear the word guilty. I feel guilty that ______. Go ahead, fill in the blank for yourself. And then we’re going to talk about what to do with this guilt, why we have mom guilt, and how we can overcome it so that we can be more confident and connected in our own motherhood journey. Guilt takes an even bigger toll for many in the family situations during COVID.

For those of you tuning in for the first time, my name is Chelsea Skaggs, I am the founder of postpartum together where we work to help women overcome the pressure to be Pinterest perfect, and to find more confidence, connection and communication and just some freakin joy in their journey, I focus on working with women between three to 10-ish months after baby because listen, as the fog starts to lift, that’s when we have all of these feelings and thoughts and ideas, processing all the changes. And it’s the perfect time to figure out how we move forward as women as moms and all the things that make up our identity.

So today we’re talking about guilt and I want to share with you some of the things I have heard from my clients recently.

As a Mom, I feel guilty about:

-how I’m feeding my baby

– The way I birthed my baby

-Amount of time I do or don’t spend with my baby

– I feel guilty for not giving enough of myself to my partner

-Not being social enough

-Because my house isn’t cleaned

– For wanting any space to myself and to get away from my family.

All right, so if you’ve ever thought any of those thoughts, listen, you’re not alone. Because these are all things that I have heard from moms just like you recently.

 

 
Tips for getting rid of mom guilt

4 Ways to Get Rid of Mom Guilt

So let’s talk about four ways to get rid of mom guilt. Because sister it’s not looking good on you. Just kidding, I just want you to be feeling confident. I want you to feel like you are not behind, to feel like you don’t have to live in the world of shoulds and guilts. And I want you to feel that you can be connected and competent in your way of motherhood.

1. Teach your support people how you need to be affirmed and cared for.

Maybe it’s that you need someone to notice that the house is clean. Alright, we are going to have to teach our support people to say that or to acknowledge that if that is what makes us feel fulfilled and not feel guilty. Maybe it is that we are feeding in a different way than we expected to talk to your support people about how difficult that is for you. If it’s difficult if you’re feeling guilt, acknowledge it, talk about it and make a space to say hey, this is actually what I need to help me come back this guilt so we are teaching the people around us how to better support us because the chances are they want to support us.

2. Take a break from the things that make you feel shitty, and cause comparison.

This is often social media or magazines or that trashy ass reality show that you find yourself watching. If you are feeling this ongoing comparison it can sound many ways. Like you just can’t keep up with this person or she can do it so easily, or look how good she looks, her house looks, or her kids look then it’s causing you some stress and comparison. This then piles right into the feelings of guilt that you have because you’re shaming yourself and listen, you can step away, you can turn it off, you can take a break, you can mute whatever it is that you need to serve you so that you’re not drowning in this pile of guilt.

3. Honestly reflect on each day and celebrate one win when we are in the throes of postpartum

When the days are blurring together, we’re hardly getting a chance to shower. Whatever that looks like for you in those early days, it can be hard to feel like we have done enough or done good enough.

Maybe it’s when you’re returning to work or you’re getting into the stay at home rhythm or you are you know figuring out what you’re doing. Social life and friendship and relationships can be tough in this season. It’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough because again, that comparison game tells us that other people are doing it better, they’re doing it more, they’re doing it easier, like they are winning and we are losing. And that makes us feel guilt for not being good enough. So I want you to take time to reflect each day on one win that you’ve had. And listen, if you’ve had one win, that is a day worth celebrating.

4. Schedule five to 10 minutes a day to think or feel for yourself about yourself.

Do this so that you can be proactive in your brain, reminding yourself and affirming yourself. Know that you are not dictated by the comparison outside or by what other people think or what other people are doing, but spend that time with you.

Is the Mom Guilt Helpful?

Here’s the question I want to leave you with:
-What guilt am I carrying that isn’t helping me, my baby or my family?
-Next, how will I process that and let it go so that it doesn’t have a hold on me?
This takes work, intention and practice.

And if you’re looking for a safe space, to process out all the changes of postpartum to put tools and resources into place to have accountability to have connection we are here for it. Check out our next postpartum together small group offerings at postpartumtogether.com/groupcoaching and make sure that you subscribe to this channel (and blog) so that you can get the next videos in the taboo ABCs of postpartum series.

motherhood, Postpartum

Friendship After Baby: Making and Keeping Mom Friends

The Ins and Outs of Friendship After Baby

Friendship after baby can be full of new emotions, conversations, and priorities. When you are parenting a newborn, you need different kinds of friends to support you. Making and keeping mom friends almost feels like dating. Below we discuss the ways friendships change after baby and making friends as a new mom.

Watch the video and read the transcript below!

Looking for a place where other moms GET YOU? Check out the group offerings we have coming up and find the group that best fits your needs- automatic mom friends!

Video Transcript:

In the taboo ABCs of postpartum, F is for friendship. Friendship can feel so different after baby.

Maybe you’re asking yourself if your friendships are going to change or if it’s normal for new friends to come? And how do you even make new friends as a new mom? And what to expect from some of your old friends after baby? There are so many different parts to this:
-How we make new mom friends
-What kind of friends we need
-How this looks different after baby?
How do we expect our existing friends to show up for us how our friends can help us after baby?
What it’s like to have friends with babies themselves and with friends who don’t have babies?

Factors that Impact Your Friendship After Baby

So we are looking at all these different changes in friendship after baby. When it comes to your pre-baby friends, there are some questions that you’re probably going to ask yoursel
Do you still have common interests?
Are you able to align your schedules?
Are you able to enter some of the places that you overlap to maybe that was your work friends, or you’re going out friends or a hobby friends?
And do you maybe have the same kind of approach and values and styles?

And when you become a mom, you’re likely going to make new friends. This might be because your children are the same age or maybe you’re running in a similar circle. Maybe it’s a playgroup, maybe it’s a hobby group, maybe it is work or a daycare setting, you might be making a new friend, because you have a similar parenting style. And maybe because you have some common interests.

Loneliness as a New Mom

I hear from a lot of moms that they didn’t expect it to feel this lonely, you feel like you’re the only one struggling with something. Maybe you’re trying to keep up with so much and there are all these different changes. Friendships after baby can be more difficult, but they’re also still extremely important. I encourage my mom clients to ask yourself a few things.

What is making you feel disconnected from some of your existing friendships? Or from making new friendships? Is it a fear? Is it a lack of confidence that you have in your new mothering style is it because you’re not identifying with hobbies or interests that you used to? Are there some things that are being said that might feel triggering and disconnecting for you?

Related: Postpartum depression and anxiety stories

There are a lot of different kinds of friends that we need when we’re new moms. And I want to give you a couple examples of those.

Examples of Mom Friend Types After Babyfriendships after baby

The Listener Mom Friend

The person that you can call up whenever, however, you need to show up and they’re just going to listen, you may need the wisdom friend, this is the person who probably already has kids. Maybe they’re a little older or they are in a stage that’s a few months or years ahead and they can be the person to help you gain that wisdom and feel comfortable and confident.

The Keep It Real Mom Friend

You need that keep it real friend, the friend that you can talk to about anything, nothing’s off the table. Nothing is too taboo

The Nurturing Mom Friend

You need the nurturer friend. This is the person you can turn to when you just feel heavy and hard and you need someone to wrap you up in some love and encouragement and be nurtured.

The Advocate Mom Friend

You need the advocate friends, that friend who is going to help you to find your voice and use your voice and be your own advocate.

The Cheerleader Mom Friend

You need the cheerleader, the one who reminds you that even when it’s really hard, you can do this.

The Fun Mom Friend

The Things in Common Mom Friend

New Mom Groups: Find Your New Mom Friends Here

Looking for a place where other moms GET YOU? Check out the group offerings we have coming up and find the group that best fits your needs- automatic mom friends!

motherhood

Invisible Load of Motherhood During the Holidays

As a mom, you want to enjoy the holidays. You also want everyone else to enjoy the holidays and you feel responsible for making that happen. But there is this invisible load of motherhood lingering in the midst of the holiday cheer.

You:
-Do most of the planning.

-Find the perfect gifts for your children.

-Decorate the house for added joy.

-Outline the menu and coordinate the gatherings.

-Hide the gifts and wrap them during those scarce moments when the kids are asleep.

You carry the holiday invisible load and it can be heavy. 

This piece is written in conjunction with Zulily’s ode to Mrs. Claus. Read the open letter to moms this season and sign the change.org petition!

In 2020, you have additional factors of

  •  A world pandemic

  • Months of isolation

  • Modified activity options

  • Lack of childcare

  • Additional schooling responsibilities

  • Changed work culture.

**Let’s stop for a deep breath together because this is a lot.**

The text from grandparents and aunts come in:

What would Elizabeth like for Christmas?
Will we gather for the candle lightings each night or are we using Zoom to celebrate Kwanzaa?
Who will get together for the Thanksgiving feast?

When you’re already experiencing stress and anxiety, each text or phone call can feel like another layer bogging you down. If you feel overwhelmed from the holidays, it can be easy to lose the joy you want to experience.

The Pressure of “Supermom” During the Holidays

The holidays were meant to be a time of celebration, closeness, and laughter and for many moms, the pressure to be “Supermom” through the holidays is a breaking point. Supermom, this illusional character many moms hold in their minds, tells us that we are not doing enough. She tells us that we need to work harder. Do more. Produce more. She tells us that a holiday is not fulfilling for our children without crafts, decorations, gifts, meals, traditions, pictures, and themed-activities. Supermom tells us that we are responsible for doing and being all of this and carrying the checklist in our minds. She tells us that if we sleep or rest or take a moment to breathe, we are failing our children and families.

Related: Myths About Motherhood

How did we get the supermom illusion? How does it impact the invisible load of motherhood?

The Supermom is like a modern-day “Keeping up with the Joneses” story. It is not new and not new to moms, but the way we experience it is different and in many ways a strong force than before.

People “Kept up with the Joneses” by having a well-manicured yard and a nice car. You worked to maintain an image from the outside. It was a family affair.

Now, the super mom illusion requires you to go deeper, go inside, go public. The supermom illusion is present in movies and TV shows, on social media and mom blogs, and beyond. There are endless opportunities to compare, to judge yourself, and to think about MORE to do and be as a mom.
Here’s how we often experience it:

The Supermom Puzzle Theory:

Jane sees 5 different moms on social media today

-#1 is gifted in crafts and shares super-cute crafts she does with her kids
-#2 is an amazing cook and highlights her family meals
-#3 is a fitness expert and coordinates workouts with her toddlers
-#4 is great with organization and interior design and her house always looks like a magazine
-#5 is a make-up and style guru and always looks so put together

Jane, the one taking in these images and words, sees these moms and puts each together like pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle is the image of a “Supermom” that Jane sees and expects of herself. She does not realize in that moment that each mom is only highlighting one expert area of her life and does not show all the other aspects. Jane feels like she needs to be the culmination of all of these moms in order to be a “good mom.”

The Impact of The Invisible Load of Motherhood on Moms

During the holidays, the supermom becomes the mom who creates picture-perfect memories for her family. Many women take on this stress by worrying about creating a great holiday for her family. According to recent research conducted by Zulily, 74% of moms feel they do the majority of work and emotional support during the holidays. This research also indicated 88% of moms say their role in the family is primarily that of the “giver.” Another study, conducted by Mount Sinai South Nassau in 2019 showed that 46% of women polled indicated a high or very high level of holiday-induced anxiety. “Women under the age of 50, especially those who work outside the home, feel the most stress during the holidays and at home, levels that impact their mental and physical health.”

Read more:
An Open Letter to Moms Everywhere this Holiday Season (Zulily)

How to have a less-stressed holiday

Evaluate your true priorities

It can be easy to believe we “have” to do everything we see others do. We can take on responsibilities because others are doing it. Look at your task list and priorities and ask yourself: Am I doing this because it aligns with our family values or because I think I “should” do it to keep up with others? Once you look closely, you will be able to identify the tasks that can fall of the list and stick to the priorities that align with your values.

Communicate proactively

Do not wait until high-stress or emotional times to make decisions about the holidays. Talk with your family beforehand about plans and boundaries. Look at the tasks and experiences ahead of time and use your support team to help. Let others (your partner, family, etc.) know how they can be helpful with clear communication.

Related: Communication after baby

Form a team, not a pyramid

Remember, the holidays are a family affair and you do not have to be over everything. Take some of the pressure off of yourself and create a team with your partner and/or supports. Think about what you really enjoy and love and be over that- allow others to take the lead on other things. Do not pressure yourself to take on the invisible load of motherhood alone.

Create boundaries

You cannot do everything with everyone without losing your mind. No one can. Create boundaries around your time and energy. This looks different for everyone but evaluate your triggers and needs and let boundaries come from that. Do too many toys stress you out? Set boundaries around gift-giving. Are you someone who will stay up too late to do things that are not necessary? Create boundaries around your sleep and rest.

Related: Setting boundaries after baby

Start and end your day with a connection

Remember, the holidays are about connecting with others. We can get so caught up in tasks and plans that we miss opportunities to connect with those we love. Create a way to connect first thing in the morning and before bedtime in the evening. This could be reading a special story together, setting a timer for family snuggle time, sitting down for one meal a day together with no electronic interruption or another way your family enjoys connecting.

SIGN IT: Change.com Give Mrs. Claus the Credit She Deserves

Over the holidays remember this moms:

You do not have to deplete yourself to be a good mom.
We do not have to be stressed and overwhelmed to provide a good holiday.
You do not have to do this by yourself.

There is no reward for “Supermom” who did it all herself.

I know what can help you get through the holidays with more joy and less-stress. I’m bringing you connection, community, coaching and recognizing the really heavy invisible load you’re carrying.

motherhood, Postpartum

Alternatives to Tampons and Pads: Making the Switch to Better Period Products

The Truth about Periods, Pads, and Tampons

Do you remember that time the boys and girls were separated for a special series of middle school health class? There was awkward talk about sex, boobs and vaginas. I even remember talking about how friendships could change and hormonal girl fights. I remember hearing about how you would be wearing a tampon and/or pad to soak up the blood and how everyone has that one time blood gets through and creates an embarrassing moment. What I don’t remember anyone talking about is how standard brands of tampons and pads can be full of toxins, how uncomfortable they can be, how the fill up landfills and how there are actually other options. I did not learn about tampon alternatives.

To be fair, “other” options weren’t as prevalent at that time, but you’re in luck because now there are so many more options for how you treat your vagina well and honor the feminine time. Whether you despise or don’t mind your menstrual cycle, having a way to deal with it that feels good is important.

Related: Am I Ready for Sex After Giving Birth?


are pads and tampons full of toxic chemicals and are they safe to use

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links which means that at no extra cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a small commission from any purchases made on this page. Good news- we only recommend things we love to use ourselves and products/services that don’t suck. 

Why You Need to Ditch Most Pads and Tampons

Your vaginal walls are very permeable. This means that anything near them can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. While chemicals sprayed on cotton may not have a big impact on the tshirt you’re wearing, putting that cotton into you through your vagina runs greater risk. Having that cotton (and other elements we’ll discuss) resting on the vulva and opening of your vagina means that the toxins that are present in that pad or tampon have more access to your bloodstream and body.

Toxins Found to be Present in Pads and Tampons

Currently (August 2020) only the state of New York requires ingredients to be disclosed on packaging of period products. (Read about the recent bill signed by Governor Cuomo). Because tampons and pads are seen as “medical products” there is no regulation and no federal bill stating that ingredients must be disclosed. This is a problem when it comes to products that go inside or near your vagina. According to Women’s Voices for the Earth 2018 testing, “Previous testing of tampons and menstrual pads have found pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform.” This alone is an alarm to find a tampon alternative.

Let’s say you have your period from the ages of 13-53. That’s 40 years of periods and 12 periods a year. Let’s take out 3 years of no periods if you have 2 children. 40×12=480 -36 =444. Four hundred and forty four periods. Four hundred and forty four days of wearing something inside of you for 5(ish) days. That’s 2,220 days of products inside of you (or lining your vulva). With that frequency, it makes sense that you would want to protect and be mindful of what you’re using.

With chemicals, pesticides, dyes and sometimes fragrances compromising tampons and pads, that’s a lot of exposure. If you haven’t thought about this before, don’t beat yourself up or feel ashamed. We aren’t taught this in health class. Most of the time this isn’t mentioned to us by our PCP or OBGYN. There is a lack of education and support surrounding women’s reproductive health and in an ideal world we wouldn’t even have to think about whether the products made for our bodies are safe. You’re here now- hooray! It’s never too late to make positive changes.

Waste of Pads & Tampons

Not only are feminine hygiene products unregulated and containing potentially harmful chemicals, they create a lot of waste. I know, there are a lot of things that create a lot of waste, but this is one step each of us can take to cut down on our waste. Not only do the actual products create waste, but plastic tampon applicators and pad wrapping also creates waste (read more from National Geographic here).

Save Money with Tampon Alternatives

I like to keep things honest so I’m going to tell you truthfully- there are options that are going to be cheaper than your regular tampon and pad purchases (like using a reusable menstrual cup) and there are options that will be more expensive (like having 4-5 pairs of period underwear) so if price is the major factor for you, switching to a cup is going to be what saves you the most money.

Related: First Period After Baby

What to Use for Your Period Instead


do menstrual cups work


do thinx period underwear actually hold all your blood

Period Underwear as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Non-intrusive, nothing to change in and out all day, eco-friendly, reusable, prevents accidental leaks
Cons: Harder to have on hand for emergencies, More expensive

Menstrual Cup as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Cheapest option, eco-friendly, reusable, toxin-free silicone
Cons: Messy, Some believe it can cause TSS (though very unlikely, read more here)

Washable Pads as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Reusable, nothing in and out all day
Cons: Hard to stay in place, easy to leak

Related: Finding a Pelvic Floor Therapist and Why You Need One

Why I Choose Thinx for Period Care

Recently I upped my period game and made the switch to Thinx Period Panties. While I’ve been free of disposable period products for years now, this was a step from using mostly cups to now primarily using the underwear. First, I bought one pair to try them out. I noticed that the absorbance exceeded my expectations, they were comfortable to wear, I didn’t experience the “stink” throughout the day and didn’t feel gross and wet. My husband even commented on how cute they were. This is more than I can say for any other type of period product. ALSO while I haven’t personally had this experience, I’ve been told they are GREAT for postpartum bleeding once you graduate from the momma diapers!

As a previous cup user, I really enjoyed not needing to empty my cup, get blood on my hands, find a sink, etc., especially in public places. Along with how convenient and effective they are, I also feel great about supporting a company committed to eradicating the taboo of postpartum and providing effective solutions around the world. Have questions about using Thinx for your periods? You can find all my Q&As on my personal Instagram. Head to the profile highlights and find “Thinx!” and check back to the blog as we share more information about Thinx, periods, postpartum and more!

If you want to try Thinx for $10 off your order, you can find my favorite style and all the details here!


why should you switch to period underwear
motherhood

Mombod Aboard: Have the Fun With Your Kids Without Worry

Because Your Memories Can’t be Measured by the Scale

This post is written in partnership with Goldfish Swim School. Goldfish Swim School has provided us with the experience of lessons for my honest review of our time there. We are thankful for the positive family environment we’ve found at Goldfish Swim School. And we are thankful to have an encouraging place to embrace the mombod and make memories.

goldfish swim school young kids

This post may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission from any purchases made from links provided).

Hey momma- Can we have a talk? 

Friend to friend.

Woman to woman.

Mom to mom.

Mombod to mombod.

I know you’ve been seeing a lot of messages and pictures lately. The ones that tell you how to drop the baby weight and “bounce back” regardless of whether you are 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years after baby. I know you’ve stopped your scroll and thought to yourself “if I could just look more like her, then I’d be happier.” You have tried to watch what you eat and move your body more and yet these kids take a lot more time than anyone prepared you for and there’s always something that needs to be done. Truly, you want to make all the memories with your little ones, but maybe, you’ve thought, you’ll do more when you hit that goal body. 

Related: What is postpartum?

Memories Can’t be Measured

But what if that goal body isn’t really the important thing here? Even if the number on the scale, the pants size, the belly that may still be lingering… what if those aren’t the things that define you and the moments that are special? What if you can enjoy the day, the week, the month, the year and all of the moments that come just as you are? Suit up, momma, because your memories can’t be measured.

Suit up. That’s right, put the suit on. Sit in the sun. Put your toes in the sand. Splash with your little ones. Go to the party. Attend the lessons. Go to the park. Jump in the deep end. Because what your kids will remember most, what they need most out of their moms, is not fitting some outward society expectation, but connecting in meaningful ways.

Related: Presence Over Performance

Putting a Suit on that Mombod for Swimming Lessons

toddler class goldfish swim school 1 year old

When my family first talked about enrolling in swimming lessons, it was the start of winter. I don’t own a scale, but I knew my weight was beyond that “ideal” I have kept in my mind for most of my adult life. Some of the suits stored away wouldn’t flatter me anymore. It was sobering to realize the room would be filled with other moms and dads who could see me, mombod and all, escorting my little one in the pool.

These things could have easily kept me from going to lessons, but there was a much stronger realization and driver. I knew my days with my kiddos aren’t slowing down. They aren’t going to be this age another day. I knew that when they are grown and we look back on their childhood, I want to share laughter and joy about the experiences we have and not regret over the experiences we skipped due to insecurity.

Suit up, momma. Suit up and do the fun things with your kids. Make memories. Laugh loudly. Suit up and don’t let time pass without embracing the moments- because they will go by fast. \

Looking for the perfect suit or another staple for your postpartum body? Find some of my favorites here!

RELATED: Postpartum Weight Loss Comments. Eck.

Finding a Fun Place for the Family (and your Mombod)

If suiting up leads you to swimming lessons with your kids too, we recommend finding the Goldfish Swim School near you. We chose Goldfish because of their approach that makes swimming fun for our kids with play-based lessons and lots of skill building. We easily found a time that worked for our family because of the many options and knew we would have a chance to make up a class if life came up and we missed a lesson.  It also helps that the colors are bright and the atmosphere is so fun that my kids are excited to enter each week. My friend Megan answered all the frequently asked questions about lessons at Goldfish here! Whether it’s swim lessons or any other family activity, suit up, momma.

PS: You can have fun at home and get a sneak-peek of the Goldfish way on their Youtube Channel. (Hello free at-home activity!)

goldfish swim school at home youtube
Birth, motherhood, Postpartum, pregnancy, Pumping

What is a New Mom Coach and Why Do You Need One to Improve Your Life?

New Mom Group Coaching: Your Growth in Motherhood

how to find someone to support you in postpartum as a postpartum coach after you have baby

Every new mom deserves more postpartum support than the standard care we have in the United States. A new mom coach helps you identify that support, advocate for that support, and get the support new moms need.

When talking to moms, I often hear that postpartum, the time after having a baby can be surprising. I get it, it was the same for me. I have always been fortunate to have a great support system and yet there’s something about postpartum that is still so taboo- people aren’t talking about it and women enter this season without preparation. The transitions of new mom life are many, and the places to talk about it and process it are few.

A new mom coach is your guide, your cheerleader, you empowerment sister when it comes to postpartum and new mom life. A new mom coach helps you to move through the changes of postpartum with support and community.

Do All New Mom Coaches Do the Same Thing?

Honestly, the term “Postpartum Coach” or “New Mom Life Coach” is fairly new and there is no “formal” definition. When you search for Postpartum Coach you will get diverse results.

Some postpartum coaches are trainers who focus on weight loss and the postpartum body.
Many postpartum coaches come from a clinical or therapeutic point of view.
A number of postpartum coaches focus on the spiritual transformation of motherhood.

It’s hard to define a new mom coach, because we all come at it from different angles. It’s important that when looking for a coach, you find someone who aligns with your values and your style.

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching was built very intentionally. Together is the emphasis on a group coaching program instead of individual program. At Postpartum Together we whole-heartedly believe that we were made for community. We were made to have a village to support us in postpartum. We were meant to learn alongside other women.

In a society that has taken a lot of that away, we are bringing it back. Our clients share that hearing from one another, having a safe place to be authentic and REAL with other women, having open judgement-free dialogue is life-changing. At Postpartum Together we follow a curriculum that provides you with a weekly theme, prompts throughout the week and place to have discussion, and a weekly video call. This means you are guided through each aspect of postpartum changes with education and space to reflect and learn from others. Weekly, we get face-to-face on a video call and go even deeper together. Together. We believe in TOGETHER.

Another benefit of the group coaching aspect is it allows us to keep the cost lower than individual programs and give more women access to the support and guidance you deserve.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

finding your tribe of mom friends after baby

Who Needs a New Mom Coach?

Short answer? Every mom DESERVES an intentional space to work through the transitions of motherhood. Each mom DESERVES to have someone guide her through the changes and help her find her strengths. Every mom DESERVES tools and resources to help her as her relationship, body, mentality, responsibilities and more change. In years past, there was more of this naturally built in. We lived closer to family. We got to see others go through postpartum. Now, we are often left with highlight reels of social media that leave us with little to really connect with.

Longer answer: There are many factors that can contribute to benefiting from a postpartum coach. A postpartum coach is for you if:

-You want to prepare for life after baby
-Having a baby for the first time
-Going back to work after maternity leave
-Transitioning to being a stay at home mom
-Adding a sibling to the family
-Fostering or adopting a baby
-You want support through your changes
-Need to process your birth experience
-You feel like your body and mind have changed and you want to understand that
-Want to find your identity again after becoming a mom
-You want to improve your relationship and marriage
-Reminders that you’re not alone in new mom struggles like sleep, breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), work and job questions, overwhelm and more
-You want a non-judgmental space to be seen and accepted, even when motherhood is messy.

Related: Marriage/communication after baby

How is a New Mom Coach Different from a Doula, OB, Midwife, Trainer, etc.?

Postpartum takes a village. A care team. A group of people who can support you. This might include (but not be limited to):
-OB/Midwife
-Doula
-Chiropractor
-Physical therapist
-Lactation consultant
-Counselor
-Pediatrician
-Baby sleep consultant

A New Mom Coach is different from all of these. Your coach is like the glue that holds you to your team. A postpartum coach can help you identify and connect with these resources you need. She takes the time just for YOU to walk through your unique experience. A coach gives you the tools to process your changes, find healing, find empowerment and move forward into a more confident motherhood.

A postpartum coach doesn’t tell you “how to” as much as provides a space for you to identify and find what matters most to you and your family. A postpartum coach isn’t a doula. A doula is often helping you with your home, breastfeeding, finding immediate solutions. We love postpartum doulas, but we are not doulas!

Related: More than a mom

Are you looking to have your best postpartum with the support of a postpartum coaching group? Learn more about Postpartum Together groups here. (And if we aren’t the right fit, I’m happy to help you find a coaching service that is!)

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

Interested in becoming a postpartum coach but not sure where to start? Email me here to chat more.

motherhood, Postpartum

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? How to Figure Out What You Are Experiencing

How Long do The Baby Blues Last?

How do I know if my wife has depression or the baby blues

So you’ve recently had a baby and the emotions are setting in. Naturally, you’re feeling a lot of things and you might be wondering: “Am I experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression?”Your life has changed drastically in a short amount of time and your body is also reacting. During pregnancy, your progesterone levels increase up to 200x their baseline levels and when you deliver your placenta, that progesterone is leaving the body causing a steep drop. Sounds a little bit like a roller coaster, right? So if you’re emotionally feeling like a roller coaster, this is probably why and you are not the only one.

How can you tell if what you are experiencing is a “natural” part of the transition of baby from inside to outside of your body and the drastic change in hormones that brings? How can you tell if you need to seek outside help or if this will subside on its own?

What Contributes to Postpartum Mental Wellness?

As mentioned above, there are natural swings in hormone levels when you are pregnant, during birth and after. Your body is changing along with the needs of a growing baby and the transition from inside the body to outside the body. Additionally, starting the process of breast milk production causes hormone fluctuation whether you decide to breastfeed or not. Late in pregnancy, many women struggle to sleep and when the baby arrives, many women experience ongoing sleep deprivation. This lack of sleep can make it harder for hormone levels and emotional responses to return to a baseline level as the brain and body do not experience restorative rest. This means it can take weeks and even months to stabilize.

RELATED: How long is postpartum?

What is Baby Blues?

-Typically within first 1-2 weeks after birth

-Sadness

-Crying

-Irritability

-Trouble Sleeping

-Can see feelings objectively

With baby blues, women can identify that this is temporary and marked by things like lack of sleep, big transitions and hormone shifts. The mom with baby blues recognizes that this is difficult, but knows it will pass and can see things objectively. She feels these things but does not feel that they are all-consuming.

Related: What are the Baby Blues (Zulily contribution)

chart shows difference between postpartum depression and baby blues

What is Postpartum Depression?

-Hopelessness

-Helplessness

-Ongoing crying

-Brain fog

-Rage

-Lack of interest in people or things

-Withdraw

-Difficulty bonding

-Intrusive thoughts (thoughts of harm to self or baby)

The mom who is experiencing postpartum depression will see symptoms beyond the first two weeks. Symptoms may onset after delivery to up to 1 year postpartum. This mom might feel that there is no end to the negative emotions. She feels withdrawn and not interested in people or things she was previously interested in. She may not be able to “find” or recognize herself in the midst of all of the emotions. This mom may have rage she cannot control. In some cases, this mom believes the baby would be better off without her and she struggles with intrusive thoughts of harm.

RELATED: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Stories

PPD Risk Factors

While there are no guarantees about who will and who will not experience PPD, there are some risk factors that increase your likelihood.

Women who:

-Have a history of mental health disorders

-With a mother/father/grandparent/sibling with a history of a mental health disorder

-Pregnancy, birth, or postpartum medical complications-Mothers with baby in the NICU

-Mothers of baby with colic or medical complexity

-Women with little family/friend/community support

If you are pregnant and know that you are at risk for PPD, Burd Therapy’s Preventing PPD course may be the tool you need.

Everyone Deserves Postpartum Support

Whether you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression, or just going through the transition into motherhood, you deserve support and there is no shame in not having it “all together.” No one really has it all together, even if it appears that way on the outside. If you believe you may be struggling with PPD, contact your provider- either your OB or your Primary Care Provider, and tell her how you’re feeling. If possible, find a therapist  who can provide you with a safe space to talk about your transition and feelings. Share your experience with those who are close to you and care about you- many people want to be helpful and supportive and there is no reward for doing it all yourself.

Whether it is medication, therapy, a holistic approach to navigating this new stage, know that help is available and help doesn’t make you weak. As a medication-taking, therapy- going, yoga loving mom who loses her mind without these tools and resources… you’re in good company and no one wins a trophy for not needing help.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for any mom

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

baby helps marriage-min.png

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.

marriage, motherhood

Working Together with Your Partner After Baby

5 WAYS TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM

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 after baby 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 with your partner after baby, 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

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.

always mad at my husband since we had a baby

LISTS, LISTS AND MORE LISTS

Keep tabs on what needs to be done between you and your partner after baby.

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.  Our partner after baby probably does not know what we are thinking. Clear expectations can be key. Sometimes it means saying what you think should be able 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