1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Do not do housework! Are you insane woman? Your husband/partner/mother-in-law can do the laundry. You just made a person. You are the queen.
2. Take your stool softeners. This may be the best advice you’ll ever get. I am not shitting you. Take the entire bottle, (but not all at once, geez). Trust me on this one. Way too much went on down there. You will be backed up like the Santa Monica freeway on Oscar night. Soften up, you’re going to need it.
3. Don’t get too hungry. I almost passed out once while giving our newborn a bath. And I was holding him. Mother of the year right out of the chute. You are working your ass off (although no actual ass will go away, it’ll still be huge and you’ll need maternity pants for awhile). Eat woman, eat.
4. Do not under any circumstances try to cook. See #1 and #3. Fire and exhaustion do not mix. Make people bring you food and don’t eat (just) your vegetables. You need a steak, you need pasta and you definitely need ice cream. You can have a side salad, but do not diet.
5. Just say “no” to visitors. Unless you want to, you are under no obligation to see anyone. Family and well wishers can bring food, slow down to a crawl and wave from the car, maybe even come in. For ten minutes. Then you yawn a lot and start nursing. Whip out those giant lactating breasts. If they don’t leave then, get a restraining order.
6. Do not go clothes shopping. Unless you’re a freak of nature bitch and you wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital, nothing fits. Maternity clothes. Pajamas. If you want to be really hip, fine, wear “yoga” pants (you’re not doing any freaking yoga, by the way). Within three weeks, you will naturally lose a big chunk of weight. And even then, proceed with caution. I weighed myself before delivery and again the day we brought my son home. I was up seven pounds. Seven pounds! My baby weighed more than that. There are reasons for post delivery weight gain: IV fluids, your body’s adjusting, and nature’s a bitch. You’ll pee buckets that first week. Set up a nursing station in the bathroom and park your ass on the toilet. (And take your stool softeners!) That extra weight will just flush away.
7. And finally, and this is no joke, it’s normal to be emotional and anxious, especially if it’s your first child. If you feel overwhelmed by sadness, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts, ask for help. Tell your partner, call your doctor, call a friend. There is a lot of support on the internet. Postpartum Progress is a great resource, and there are others. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s “just” the baby blues. If you feel overwhelmed, speak up. Remember, you made a person. You are the queen.
For more information on postpartum mental health please reach out. I am a survivor and can promise you, it gets better. If you think something is wrong, it may be. Read this The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in plain mama English). You are not alone.
(This post first ran on In Other Words.)