“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never.” – Osho.
Society pays a huge amount of attention to pregnancy and giving birth but not a lot is said about life after baby is born. Some of the things that occur during pregnancy, birth and beyond might fade over time but the truth is motherhood is a game-changer.
From your relationships, identity and priorities to body image, mental health and career, it can all shift and change after having a child. And like most things, the changes themselves aren’t actually the scariest part, it’s the fact that these things are rarely talked about openly. That’s why we’re lifting the lid on just some of the things you may experience after having a child…
- Postpartum is forever.
The fourth trimester might only last 12 weeks but postpartum is forever. But before you freak out, know that it’s not a bad thing!
Your physical body has changed in a way that means it can never be exactly as it was before you gave birth. However, you may discover strength in muscles you didn’t knew you even had and gain a new found appreciation for everything your body can do.
The experience of giving birth is also life-altering and you may find that you think about things differently as a new mum and things you really cared about before don’t matter to you so much. There’s no right or wrong way to feel after having a baby but it’s helpful to know that there is no ‘going back’ only embracing this new, wonderful life you have created.
2. You will lose some friends.
Having a baby can have a huge impact on your friendships. You have less time to hang out, you are constantly trying to fit your day around nap times and you’re generally just less available. Some friends will get this and understand whilst others may find this change really difficult. Reach out when you can to let your friends know you’re thinking of them, tell them you miss them too and know that although things may be different now, you can reconnect in the future.
3. You will gain some friends.
Mothers’ groups exist for a reason. Sure, the people you meet may not be your best friends from primary school but they are going through exactly the same huge life change you are and that’s important. Show up to the coffees, lean on them for support and share with them how you feel because we guarantee they will also be having a similar experience. And you never know, they may just turn into lifelong besties.
4. Support is available but be specific about what you need.
During pregnancy women are often treated with extra care and there is lots of information given about help and support. However, once the baby is out it can feel like all that support just drops away and you’re left to fend for yourself. And it’s true, society is still crap at caring for new mothers.
So when you’re in the depths of postpartum, don’t try and do it all yourself but instead ask for help and support. If someone says ‘Let me know if there’s anything I do’, don’t ignore it but instead jump on that offer and be specific about what they can do. You’ll be surprised by how many people want to help but don’t know how. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- If you live near family or friends, ask them to run an errand or do some shopping for you.
- Share the load with your partner. Yes, they may have had a long day at work but you have also been working (unpaid!) at home all day so it’s only fair to share the housework and domestic chores.
- If a visitor is popping by, ask them to bring you coffee or lunch or anything that would make your day easier. And when they get to your house, don’t make them tea or wait on them. Instead, ask them to do a couple of jobs for you.
- Say no. If you don’t want that visitor to stay in your house or you can’t face that baby group after a terrible night’s sleep, just say no.
- Drop the guilt. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help anyone else.
- “No advice today, thanks” or “I’m going to try it my way and I’ll let you know if i need help” are just a couple of handy responses if family or friends start doling out their unnecessary opinions. A well-time eye-roll can also be less subtle but very effective…
5. You might not love your body.
It is really common after you give birth to still look pregnant. As a rough guide, many women describe their tummy as feeling quite squishy and looking around six-months pregnant. You may find that your body looks quite swollen too. This is because your body stores more fluid during pregnancy and it doesn’t instantly disappear as soon as baby has been born. It can take some weeks and months for the swelling to reduce. Drink plenty of water (which helps with flushing out the excess fluid) and raise your legs above your hips when resting.
As you recover from giving birth you may find that your weight fluctuates and you might lose weight or even gain weight at times. A lot of these changes can be explained by all the hormones in your body rebalancing and settling after pregnancy and this is especially so if you’re breastfeeding. Don’t use this time to worry about ‘snapping back’ or squeezing back into your old clothes. Instead, we suggest investing in some new clothes that make you feel great. You don’t have to love your new body but don’t hate on it either.
6. Your hair might fall out.
It’s a sad but true phenomenon that you may lose some of your hair after giving birth. Experts call this ‘hair shedding’ but that term doesn’t make it any easier when you’re watching clumps of hair clog up the shower drain. The hair loss is caused by plummeting estrogen levels after giving birth, however the actual hair loss might not kick in until you’re a few months postpartum. You can read more about what happens here.
A hair and energy vitamin supplement – like this one – may help to keep your locks looking strong. It’s also helpful to eat well and stock up on nutrient-rich food that stimulates hair growth. Some good foods to help with hair growth include broccoli, kale, peppers, strawberries, fish, eggs, beans and lentils.
It’s also helpful to know that the shedding doesn’t last forever and should stop by the time baby is 12 months old.
7. You may wonder who you are.
The shift to being a parent can be huge and is not to be underestimated. No matter how many books you read or friends you talk to, nothing can really prepare you for how it actually feels when you become a parent. This is especially so if you’re a mother. That’s because so many aspects of your life change in a very short space of time and you often don’t get enough time to process what is happening.
You may feel that you have lost certain parts of who you are, including:
- Your professional role.
- Financial independence.
- Time for hobbies.
- Time with family and friends.
- Sex drive.
- Confidence and ambition.
When these feelings bubble up, it’s important to talk about them and the impact they’re having on your life. Share with your partner so they can understand more about how life has changed for you and workshop ways to find time so you can do the little things that make you feel like you.
How you feel today is unlikely to be how you feel in six months or a year’s time so try focussing on the little decisions rather than making big, life-altering decisions when so much change is already happening in your life.
8. You might miss your old life.
Spontaneous Wednesday night drinks, last-minute holidays and all-day brunches may not be possible right now and it’s OK to feel a bit sad about that. Life changes so much when you have a baby that it’s only natural to miss aspects of your old life. It takes such a huge amount of effort and energy to care for a tiny baby that you may even question if you’re cut out for it and wonder whether you’ve made a terrible mistake. The best advice we can give is not to panic and remember that annoying but true saying: everything is a phase. Whatever stage you’re in, it won’t last forever and you’ll gradually figure out ways to find time for yourself again.
9. You will discover that you really are a badass.
Sleepless nights, nipple pain and a throbbing vagina are enough to tip anyone over the edge. Add in a screaming baby and you may want to give up, walk out and never come back. But you will discover new depths of patience and love you never knew you had. You will find a way to stick at it, to get out of your warm bed for the umpteenth time to tend to your baby and to keep going through the fog of exhaustion. It might not be pretty and some days you might shout, cry and swear, but you will get through it because you are a badass who can do hard things.
10. You’ll figure it out.
There’s a lot of BS out there about how to feed your baby, how to parent your child and you may also be getting *a lot* of unsolicited advice from friends and family too. Tune it out. We repeat: tune it out. And instead, tune into yourself and trust your gut instincts.
You’ve managed to grow a tiny human, birth a tiny human and now you’re keeping that tiny human alive. Don’t underestimate your own power as that child’s mother and remember that you already – instinctively – know what the best thing is to do. So the next time you’re doubting yourself, remember to cut out all the noise and just ask yourself: what do I need to do for my child and myself right now? And then do that.
Motherhood is a total ride and some days you will feel like you’re nailing it and other days you will be sobbing on the floor wondering what the hell happened to your life. Just remember, you’re not alone and you really do got this.