You probably went into labor knowing it would be taxing and painful, and you planned for it in the months leading up to the big day. Unfortunately, you probably didn't get a lot of information on the physical recovery after birth. Most women know that their bodies will be different than before, but they’ve also bombarded by ads for "101 ways to get your pre-baby body back”; so, recovery is often trivialized to just getting back into your skinny jeans. You may not be prepared to see that your belly still looks four or five months pregnant, or that you are sore in places you didn’t expect. You may be dealing with a healing tear or episiotomy, or even a cesarean incision that you hadn’t planned on. You may be surprised by the fatigue that can last for the next couple of weeks and may be discouraged by the limitations it causes. Caring for a newborn means a lack of sleep for both parents that leads to further fatigue. You may even push yourself too hard and do too much, which will only prolong the recovery process and can even lead to illness.
Too further complicate things, it is common for people to want to visit when a baby is born. If these visitors are helpful, it can be a good thing, but often they are there to hold the baby and little else. You may feel the need to play hostess, when you are the one that need to be cared for. All these things can complicate your physical recovery.
So, what can you do about it?
“Please place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance."
If you have ever flown, you have heard these instructions. The idea of helping myself before helping others goes against my grain. It probably goes against the grain of a lot of people, or they wouldn’t need to say this.
It is important to put your mask on first though, because if you lose consciousness, you won’t be any good to anyone.
The idea carries over into everyday life too. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so you need to refill your own cup before you can pour into others.
It makes perfect sense.
I still struggle with it.
As children, we are taught to think of others first, and this is a good thing. The world is a better place when we think of others first. The problem comes when we stop thinking of ourselves at all. As moms, we tend to slowly stop taking care of ourselves in favor of taking care of our families.
As soon as we find out we are pregnant, we start sacrificing for our kids.
We endure nausea, backaches, swollen ankles, and various other discomforts. We give up sushi, coffee, and lunchmeats. If we get a cold we suffer through without the Nyquil rather than risk the health of our little passengers. We lose sleep and we worry. We tolerate being poked, prodded, and tested all to make sure our babies are healthy.
When it’s time for the birth, we go through hours of pain, needles, strangers up in our business, and sometimes even surgery to bring our babies safely into the world.
Once they’re here, we go through sore, leaky nipples, and sleepless night, and spend hours doing research all to make sure we are doing the best job possible in raising these little ones.
We make sure our kids have nice new clothes and clean hair, even if we haven’t showered in days and are wearing thrift store jeans and an old T-shirt
Of course, some of this is hard to fix. If finances are tight it is hard to justify or even afford that nice outfit for ourselves. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get a shower in or style our hair. There will be seasons where self-care is harder than at other times. That doesn’t mean we must give it up all together though. It is a matter of making it a priority.
I have learned that I am a better wife and mom when my needs are met as well, but I still struggle to do things for me. I am always worried about being selfish.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF IS NOT BEING SELFISH!!!
We would all be better moms, wives, friends, employees, and bosses if we took better care of ourselves. It is ok to take time out for us. Here’s just a few ideas:
Sometimes it is just a matter of mindset. Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, is sometimes half the battle.