It has been six months since sweet Hemsley was born. Six months! How did that happen? I feel like I’ve just blinked and she’s turned from a sleepy wrinkly little newborn to a chatty, active, bubbly baby girl.
I have to admit, when I was pregnant as my due date loomed, I felt pretty uncertain about how life would be once the little bundle arrived. Could I handle it? Would I feel totally and utterly overwhelmed? What would my body be like? How would it all feel? Would I be a good mama?
Unknowns definitely freak me out but I’ve been slowly learning to lean into them and do what I can to prepare (if possible) for what’s ahead. While labor and childbirth did seem a bit daunting to me, more than anything I was unsure about my well-being after going through childbirth and bringing baby home. I wanted to make a plan and do what I could to make the transition manageable, and keep myself feeling good mentally and physically, as I’ve struggled with anxiety for much of my life. Postpartum disorders, health struggles, and transitioning challenges are far too common to be left out of the conversation surrounding motherhood so my hope is to help change that.
While it’s wonderful that so much emphasis is placed on nutrition, exercise, and wellness during pregnancy and even while trying to conceive, so often the initial postpartum period is ignored and women are expected to just “bounce back” and have it all together within a week or two after baby arrives! In reality, after pregnancy and childbirth our bodies and minds are in need of (and deserve!) some major rest and TLC. So, while I was waddling around enjoying my last month of pregnancy I created my four part Postpartum Wellness Plan. In the past six months I have stuck with it quite diligently and have truly experienced noticeable benefits to my physical and mental health!
Being the nutrition geek that I am I knew that feeding my postpartum body nutrient dense, whole foods at each meal would not only keep my energy levels up and my blood sugars stable but also help and support the healing process that my body would be going through after childbirth.
Having a baby can throw off your schedule like nothing else so I made it priority to eat a well balanced breakfast every morning, even if it was later than preferred, have go-to healthy lunches and dinners (many of which were prepared in advanced or delivered by friends and family), and fuel up between meals with easy, healthy snacks. For breakfast I often made smoothies because they are so quick and easy to whip up, contain a nice balance of macronutrients, and are easy to drink while standing or holding a baby!
Morning after morning I reached for an array of fruits, greens, protein powder, and Silk Almondmilk or Silk Coconutmilk to blend and guzzle down while rocking, nursing, or simply adoring my sweet baby girl.
Silk’s dairy-free products can always be found in our fridge as both Justin and I have dairy sensitivities. Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk also contains no added sugars, has 50% more calcium than cow’s milk, and is a great source of vitamin E!
Along with prioritizing nutrition, I supplemented probiotics, vitamin B complex, magnesium, calcium, and essential fatty acids often with my morning smoothie.
During my entire pregnancy I exercised. Right up until the last day I was in the gym or at the pool doing some sort of physical activity to keep my body strong as I learned in prenatal class that good muscle tone helps with the labor process. However, in the first bit after having Hemsley I had to put a halt on all exercise as I was healing from an episiotomy and I was in a decent amount of pain. Around 4 weeks, once I was cleared by my midwife, I slowly began exercising starting with walking outdoors which helped to boost my endorphins and lift my mood if I was feeling tired or overwhelmed and slowly build up strength and stamina.
At 6 weeks postpartum, after checking again with my midwife, I joined a few mom & baby workout groups and began modified exercises and strollercize to continue rebuilding strength, stamina, and muscle tone. Moving daily was part of my postpartum wellness plan for the mental benefits just as much as the physical benefits. Exercise, along with a healthy diet, helps support energy and mood which is so helpful for a new mom and it proved to me that if I was having a more challenging day transitioning to life with a newborn that I was really often just one workout away from a more positive, relaxed state.
Over the past six months I’m amazed at the strength I’ve regained and how much maintaining a regular exercise routine has helped benefit my health and provided even more opportunity to bond with Hemsley.
3. ASK & ACCEPT
This was a huge one! Knowing very well that “overwhelm” very quickly leads to anxiety for me I was proactive in planning for help postpartum. I knew that my family and friends would be available to lend a hand and was lucky enough that Justin, my husband, was able to take a week off of work, but I also wanted to ensure that I had someone coming to the house regularly to assist in my transition to motherhood. I hired a postpartum doula for the first 4 weeks after Hemsley arrived and it was an incredible help to say the least.
In our culture there seems to be almost a negativity around the concept of asking for and accepting help, and many moms feel “weak” or “less than” by leaning on others during the first few months postpartum but it’s unbelievably important to embrace community at this time. My postpartum doula helped me by making breakfasts or other meals, doing light housework, watching Hemsley while I napped or showered (true luxuries in the first few weeks postpartum!), and some days she would simply sit and talk with me about how I was feeling, managing, and coping.
Along with the help of my postpartum doula I scheduled park dates, walking dates, coffee dates, and visits with friends and family to stay social, get out of the house, and have the opportunity to just vent. I also joined moms groups and reached out to other new moms to create more of a supportive community that I could lean on.
Last, but most definitely not least, I planned to breathe. You might be wondering what I mean by this so I’ll elaborate. In the past I’ve noticed that during stressful times I can get so caught up in the chaos that before I know it I’m completely depleted and have to slowly work my way back into a place of peace. As joyous and amazing as I knew having a baby would be, I also knew it would be intense, and quite possibly, stressful! I made a plan to take some time each day to sit, breathe, pray, and connect with myself, even if just for a few short minutes.
This has been monumentally helpful in the past six months as there have been times where I’ve felt a little over my head and a whole lot unqualified for the job of being a mama. When I’ve remembered my plan to breathe and take a moment to center myself, I’m instantly brought to a place of calm and reminded that I am just where I need to be!
As I move into the 1/2 year postpartum mark I continue to Move, Nourish, Ask & Accept, and Breathe as much as possible as I know that carrying on with these will continue to equip me as a mama but also help me set a positive example for Hemsley as she continues to grow!
Do you have any advice for soon-to-be mamas or new mamas navigating the postpartum stage? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!
Have an amazing Sunday,
Christal // NITK
Photography Credit: Nicole Marie Photography & Design
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.