Good morning! I’m typing this up on a Sunday and taking a “self care” morning by doing my favorite things: I started off with a cup of coffee and a book while I fed my baby boy at home, and then I went out to a cardio class at The Barre Code followed by a scone and a quiet blogging session at my favorite coffee shop, Patika. I’m thoroughly enjoying every bite of this chocolate cherry scone and hot cup of black coffee while I type up some answers to your postpartum questions that you asked over on instagram! I’m going to start by sharing the things that helped me in my postpartum journey, and then I’ll answer your questions at the bottom of the post.
I’m going to start by saying that every postpartum experience is different, just like every pregnancy is different. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about the postpartum journey; your intuition will guide you on your own unique path. I was incredibly fortunate to have had an easy recovery, both physically and emotionally. I didn’t earn or deserve that, and if I had suffered from severe postpartum depression, I wouldn’t have earned or deserved that, either.
All this to say: if you or someone you love is suffering from baby blues or postpartum depression, I’m so very, very sorry. I’m not trying to convince you that you can “will” your way out of it, or that there’s anything you should have done differently to avoid it. You are worthy and loved. (I dealt with some blues during my first trimester, and I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be to deal with those while also caring for a baby and your own postpartum body.) Please know that you are strong, and I’m amazed by you. Asking for professional medical help is a sign of true strength.
Moving on… I’m going to share the things that were helpful to me during the first few weeks after giving birth. Again, every single person is different, so some (or all!) of these won’t be helpful to you at all. But they were all incredibly life-giving in my situation, and I’m thankful to have had a fun experience with these first two months with my son.
(Hold up. Whaaaa?? My baby is two months old?!)
Now, this was my first pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. I have nothing to compare it to, and no control group, so I can’t actually know what helped and what didn’t. But I figured I’d go ahead and share all the things that felt good to me in case they made a difference:
- I got my placenta encapsulated. I did a bit of online research and chose Hill Country Placentas based on their reviews, location, and price. And they were incredible! I told my nurse I wanted to save my placenta, and we brought a cooler to the hospital. Nate texted our contact person at Hill Country Placentas when I went into labor, and they coordinated a time for them to arrive at the hospital to pick it up so they could dry it and grind it and put it into capsules. The next day, the capsules were delivered to the hospital. Nate went downstairs to the carport to pick them up, and that was that! They provided suggested directions on how many to take, and all of the pills lasted about 6 weeks for me. And no, they don’t taste like anything..
- I took supplements from Mother Nutrient. I met Mirelle, the owner of Mother Nutrient at my book release party, and she offered to send me some bottles to try. Now, I’m not typically open to receiving samples, because I was starting to get too many and didn’t have time to post about them all on social media. So I told her that I would receive them, but I probably wouldn’t share about them because I don’t have a lot of time for that sort of thing. BUT….I had such an amazing postpartum experience, I have to mention what I took just in case they made a difference!! These supplements are designed specifically for the needs of a woman’s postpartum state. Read all about it here. Here are the supplements I took: | ashwagandha | multi collagen peptides | golden milk powder | vitamin d3 | omega 3 |
- I took social media out of my life. Everyone is different, but social media can often be a source of comparison and low self-esteem for me. When I’m emotionally strong, instagram is a positive part of my life, but when I’m drained, it can cause a lot of self-doubt and negativity in my life. I decided to take a complete break from instagram (I even deleted the app for 2 weeks!) so that I wouldn’t feel pressure to post, and I wouldn’t be mindlessly scrolling while I was feeding Milo. After 2 weeks, I started posting on my private instagram page, but I took 6 weeks away from my blog account. I’m so, so happy I did this!
- I asked my husband and my mom to check in on my mental health. For months leading up to Milo’s birth, I asked Nate to check in on me. “Here are the signs to look for,” I told him. Sometimes when I’m starting to spiral downwards, like during my first trimester, I’m not even able to ask for help. So I asked for help in advance. Both Nate and my mom were great about checking in on my mood and emotions (rather than just asking about my physical symptoms).
- I had tons of help. My mom stayed with us for a week after Milo’s birth, and then my mother-in-law stayed with us for a week. They both cooked dinners for us, made homemade breakfasts, washed sheets and folded baby laundry, cleaned the kitchen, ran to the grocery store, and held Milo while Nate and I took naps.
- I ate nourishing food. Ok, and here’s what I mean by “nourishing:” I ate the food that sounded the most fun to eat. Haha… I didn’t overthink it! Some days that meant kale salad or hearty beef stew or chicken liver soup, and some days it meant chocolate chip lactation cookies or chai lattes or Pinthouse pizza. But I just approached my postpartum diet the same way I approach it on any other day: I imagined the food that would make me the happiest, and then I ate that.
- I took barre classes consistently during pregnancy. For the past 3 years, barre has been one of my favorite forms of self-care. The instructors at my studio are so kind and wonderful, and I always feel strong and inspired when I walk away from a class – even when I was 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant and could barely reach down to put on my sticky socks! Regardless of the physical advantages that barre gave me (and I truly believe it helped me with the physical recovery from childbirth!), I can wholeheartedly say that The Barre Code lifted my mood and helped me with my mental health pre- and post-birth. Here are 5 easy pregnancy modifications you can try during your barre class.
Your postpartum questions, answered:
Are you getting any sleep?
Milo sleeping from about 10-4:30 am, then waking up for a feeding, and then sleeping from about 5 – 7:30. Once I add a nap into the middle of the day, it all adds up to about 8 hours. He’s 2 months old right now…he definitely wasn’t sleeping that much for the first month. One word: SNOO!
Anything you wish you had prepared for better?
I didn’t have all of the baby gear ready before he was born, so in the first few days we were kind of scrambling to gather things. The main thing I wish I had bought before he was born was the Snoo! After 1 week of no sleep, Nate and I decided to go ahead and buy one, and it made all the difference. We also didn’t have a stroller, but my aunt bought it for us when Milo was about 2 weeks old (thank you!!!).
What are the most important things to bring with you to the hospital?
Seriously, don’t overthink it! I wasted so much time reading blog posts about what to pack, and the reality was that the 2 days FLEW by and I hardly unpacked my bag at all. I used my tooth brush and face wash, and I was happy to have clean, soft clothes to wear home…but other than that, I didn’t use many personal items like makeup and my hair wand. I honestly just wore the hospital gown and sticky socks the whole time, because it was the easiest thing for breastfeeding and getting to/from the bathroom for me. The only thing that I was SO happy to have was this nightlight, because the hospital lights are so bright and it was nice to have a dim light when I did night time feedings.
How much weight did you gain during pregnancy?
How are you doing with all of the criticism from people on social media?
Ok, one of you asked this, and I had to really think hard if I had received any criticism…and I don’t think I have! Y’all are all so nice and supportive, generous with helpful advice, and slow to condemn. I’m not sharing a lot of controversial information, so that helps. But I really love this kind community of blog readers, and I haven’t had to worry about any mom shaming – thank you for being kind, wonderful humans!
How long until you left the house with the baby?
I felt like I was going to go crazy if I spent any longer in the house, so I put on a boba wrap and walked around the block with him when he was 4 or 5 days old (at a snail’s pace, I might add!), and then gradually increased walks with him over the next few weeks. We started going out to our favorite restaurants and breweries when he was 3 weeks old, but always sat outside away from too many other people.
What has worked with you to take the baby out to bars and restaurants?
First of all, I’m no pro and I’m still learning. I haven’t brought him to any nice restaurants where I have a server…I’m only going to easy casual places.
Here’s what I’ve learned thus far: preparation is key. I make sure to get myself dressed/makeup on, pack up the diaper bag, and then feed him right before we head out the door so I have as long as possible before he needs to eat again. I always schedule the outing right after he eats (he’s eating every 3ish hours right now). I only bring him to bars and restaurants with big open spaces, preferably outdoors, so I can push him around in the stroller if he gets overwhelmed by it. He’s so young right now, so he’s still sleeping a whole lot during the day! He’ll often just stay in his car carrier and sleep the entire time I’m at a restaurant.
My favorite mantra, which I read on Cup of Jo, is this: “babies be babies.”
I’ll be honest – it’s challenging! I feel like it takes SO long to get ready to go out the door. But we’re learning. 🙂
How has having a baby changed your relationship with Nate?
I love that someone asked this, because it’s a really big part of becoming a parent, but I feel like it’s not being discussed very often! I won the jackpot with Nate; he is a phenomenal life partner, and I’m the luckiest to have him. He was the most strong, supportive, helpful partner I could have imagined throughout pregnancy, birth, and those challenging first few postpartum weeks. He’s been my emotional and physical support throughout it all. We’re both so in love with our baby boy, and it’s fun to have a common goal that we’re working toward: raising our son to be a kind, smart, noble human being (who has a love for good food, haha!). In that sense, having a baby has made our marriage even stronger, and it’s made us love and respect one another even more.
In true transparency, I’ll say this: the area in our relationship that I need to work on now that I have a child is learning how to just be fun and goofy with Nate. The sleep deprivation in the first two months is so hard, and I’ll be quick to admit that my humor is the first thing to disappear when I’m tired. It’s easy for me to get laser focused on the tasks ahead, like feedings, laundry, scheduling my “me” time, getting back to barre workouts, figuring out a meal prep routine…and then I realize that life is passing me by and I’m not finding the time to laugh at dumb YouTube videos anymore. So there, I said it: I have to work at having fun sometimes. 😉
How did your perspective change on work?
I missed food blogging so much! I was really ready to get back to it, and I’m glad that I missed it. That being said, I don’t have as much time as I used to, so I’m teaching myself to only do the most essential things. It turns out that there’s a lot of stuff I’m able to carve out of my routine so that I can be more efficient, and it’s fun to be able to get something done in 1 hour that used to take me 3 hours.
What surprised you the most?
The sleep deprivation. Oof. It was so, so hard for me! I always heard that babies eat every 2-3 hours in the first few weeks, so I thought that would mean I’d get 2-3 hours of sleep at a time… But I quickly discovered that if Milo is eating every 2-3 hours, that actually means I’d be feeding him for 30 minutes, then burping/soothing him for 15 minutes, and then I could get in 60-90 minutes of sleep before Milo was awake again. It was so hard for me, haha! But we survived. 🙂
How do you keep your hair from falling out?!
I actually never got the thick, gorgeous hair that everyone promises you during pregnancy; since my hair never improved, it hasn’t been all that bad during the postpartum phase. (I guess that’s the silver lining?)
Your feet went up a size?
Yeah, I went from an 8 to an 8.5. I was hoping that this was just pregnancy swelling and I’d eventually be able to fit in all my shoes again, but I’m two months into motherhood, and I’m pretty sure my feet flattened out a bit and I need to replace my entire shoe wardrobe. #sigh.
One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is that every mom has gone through some version of what I went through. Every parent of a newborn has experienced sleep deprivation, every mom who has birthed has figured out how to care for a tiny little baby while also caring for her own fragile postpartum body, and I’m just amazed at how strong humans are. Billions of people have experienced some version of the highs and lows that Nate and I experienced in the past 2 months. Seriously…slow clap for parents everywhere.
I’m happy to have been able to answer a few of your questions! Thanks for asking them. I still consider myself to be on the postpartum journey (my stomach is still kinda squashy and the dark line on my belly hasn’t faded yet, and sleep deprivation is still a very real part of my life, hence the teeth whitening strips I’m now buying in bulk to fight these coffee stains), and I’ll continue giving myself grace every day that I need it. I’ve heard some women say that they feel that the postpartum stage actually lasts for years, and if that’s the case for me, so be it. (I’m just happy that the hospital grade mesh undie phase is over, ya know? 😉 )