Updated: Mar 3, 2022
Nothing changes our body and our life more than becoming a mother. With all the 9 months of pregnancy and childbirth and hormones added, the first few days are a mess! I am not trying to scare or discourage any woman reading this, but it is something that is true but never acknowledged openly. All said and done, the joy of motherhood and holding your new bundle of joy for the first time is an experience that nobody can put in words.
Childbirth is like a renaissance for every woman. Enough has been said about the complications of pregnancy and delivery. So, I will not go into the details. But the work doesn't stop there. In fact, you are just getting started. Not only do you have a new baby to care for, but you also have your postpartum body to nurse back to health. And while you can take all the suggested steps to prepare for this part of the journey, nothing quite prepares you like being in the thick of it.
Much of your focus and energy during the weeks and months following birth is on your new baby. But one should not forget to take care of oneself too. Amongst all the advice that new mothers get from all corners of family and world, I have often seen and experienced that nobody offers to talk about mental stability for the new mother. In fact, the biggest piece of advice new moms should receive is to ask for help when she needs rest or when she is in pain. And most importantly talk!
You have to let your partner, friends, and family members know when you need a break. It is also important to put your fears of being inadequate or not doing enough aside. No one expects you to do everything and you shouldn't have those expectations either. As a voracious reader, even during my postpartum period I had read a lot and I was very impressed by one quote that another new mother had shared:
“Don’t tell a mom she looks tired; She can see it. She can feel it. She knows she is exhausted. Instead, tell her she is doing a good job; because she might not see it. Might not feel it. And she might not know it.”
Even though you are surrounded by your loved ones and your precious new edition, the feeling of loneliness is very overwhelming and emotionally exhausting. Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone.
Postpartum depression is another issue women struggle with and end up feeling guilty and hopeless and sometimes we feel like a failure at doing even small jobs.
Postpartum depression is not something that women have control over and it is certainly not something to be ashamed of. It is very normal to feel depressed, exhausted beyond normal, and like you are barely hanging on. But it is not normal to ignore and not take measures about it. Talk to your doctor right away.
It also affects the kind of love you show your baby through your touch. Mind you the baby feels every emotion you show. He or she may not be able to communicate but they feel. Try to be happy and always take help even if it means counseling. Please don’t be ashamed of it.
Over time, you will hopefully come to love the new you. Rejoice in the miracle of childbirth and what your body accomplished. It is not easy to carry a baby for nine months and then go through the birthing process! So celebrate that instead of fretting about what the mirror or scales say.
Enjoy your baby and take time for yourself. The rest of the world can wait!
Dr. Yashaswita Chavan
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics.