LIFESTYLE 12 months ago
What I Learned on Maternity Leave
I think I can boldly and clearly say this now since I’ve gone through it twice: POSTPARTUM PERIOD SUCKS. I’m not talking about bonding with the baby because I absolutely LOVED that part, but the mental and physical strain that I had to endure – really sucked.
With this being my second time around, I felt like I knew what to expect and how to control my emotions, exhaustion, and hormones better but let me tell you, the second time was not only physically harder but also mentally just as exhausting! The fact that I knew what to expect but still wasn’t able to control how I felt made me feel even crazier. Those postpartum hormones are no joke. It’s true that much of the hormonal imbalance that develops during postpartum is due to estrogen dominance. When you’re pregnant, your placenta produces a high level of progesterone, but once you’ve given birth and the placenta is gone, there is an immediate drop in a woman’s progesterone level. This is what’s commonly referred to as “baby blues” — which was experienced by myself and many other postnatal women.
The first few months were especially trying and challenging, and there were many valuable things I learned during my postpartum period/maternity leave.
1. It’s ok to do nothing but sleep.
This one has been the most challenging for me as I love to do the most especially while the baby is sleeping. However, I realized that if I don’t sleep when the baby is sleeping, I’d be left feeling exhausted and completely depleted. Since I’m essentially up around the clock feeding Colette at night, it’s so important that I get that much-needed sleep in during the day!
2. Check out COMPLETELY.
I always have the urge to “check in”— whether it’s seeing what my team is up to or responding to emails… but during this time I’ve learned, it’s totally ok to check out completely. As a business owner, I found it extremely difficult to mentally check out as no one is giving me a maternity leave but myself. But, in order to protect my own physical and mental health, I needed to set clear boundaries that allowed me to reset and recharge. With that said, I let my team know in advance before I went on maternity leave that I would not be able to be reached via email and that texts and calls were for emergencies only.
3. Digital Detox.
You guys already know I regularly do digital detoxes (check out my post about it here) when I feel like it’s necessary, but I also made a point to do a digital detox during my maternity leave. The first few weeks I found myself on the phone ALL DAY LONG since I was nursing around the clock. I spent so much time consuming other people’s content on Instagram that I unintentionally started feeling shitty as if I wasn’t doing enough. Everything is GO GO GO on social media which can be incredibly discouraging at times and I caught myself wanting to get up and hit the ground running again when I should have been present, still and enjoying this season of my life. There is something so special about this moment of “stillness” during your postpartum period. Everything else is temporarily put on hold and you are challenged to stand still during this time which is quite the opposite of what social media influences us to do. That’s why I decided to do a few digital detoxes by not only turning off social media but also turning my phone off completely.
4. Worry about weight & fitness later.
Your body takes time to heal. I started working out at around at 3-4 months postpartum. Although it was incredibly tempting to start working on my fitness and body right away, my body needed enough time to heal and restore itself. I was still incredibly sensitive up until just recently. I was experiencing a lot of back pain, and it wasn’t until this past month that the pain naturally subsided on its own. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do to get your body back to feeling how it used to be, except to just give it time. PS: if you haven’t checked out my Body Update post- click here!
5. Eat nourishing, rich foods and don’t count the calories.
I was eating a LOT more postpartum than when I was pregnant. My body needed way more calories to heal itself and create breast milk. I did not lose a single pound during this period, but I also promised I wouldn’t weigh myself during this time because I knew that I would not lose weight — if anything I expected to gain some pounds due to the types of food I was eating! I’m not saying that you should go stuff yourself with tons of junk food, but I am saying that you should look into foods that have healthy fats and that are rich in calcium and protein.
I hope that these personal lessons that I’ve learned during my postpartum period can help any of you that are currently going through the same thing as well or aid you in the future when you’ll eventually go through it. Although my postpartum period felt like the craziest mental and physical boot camp I’ve ever attended, I now feel better and stronger as a mother and as an overall person. Trust me when I say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will start to see a glimpse of it at around 3-4 months postpartum! Stay strong!
PS: If you’re a new mom or know someone who’s about to be… make sure to check out my must-have list for new moms here!