How To Have A Smooth Transition To Motherhood
I absolutely loved being pregnant.
But I didn’t love being postpartum.
In fact, after my first birth, I hated how I felt so much that I was ready to give up my dream of having at least 2 kids. Luckily, I had a breakthrough and I figured out the steps I needed to take to be the best new mom I could be.
And I’m going to share my top tips for a smooth transition to motherhood today.
When I got pregnant with my first baby I felt amazing. I felt like I was glowing and radiating creative positive energy. I was beyond excited to channel that energy into being a brand new mother. Into nurturing and caring for my newborn baby. I was searching for a deep postpartum transformation.
After I gave birth, I thought I would feel powerful, confident, evolved and like I was vibrating on a whole new level.
But instead I felt ready to be done having babies.
Just hours after my son was born, my husband looked at me and said “I could be good with just 1 kid.”
And honestly in that moment, exhausted and traumatized by the birth, I felt that same way.
And that feeling only grew as the days and weeks went on. Postpartum was even harder. I’m not going through that ever again, I told myself.
I was overwhelmed with newborn care and figuring out breastfeeding and blindsided by the care required for my postpartum body.
Basically I felt unhappy and stagnant.
It wasn’t until nearly 2 years after that birthing experience, where something changed within me. It started as a small glow that grew brighter and brighter.
And I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want more children. It was that, I didn’t want the exhaustion and overwhelm again.
I didn’t want the downward spiral into darkness I felt day by day.
I knew I wanted more children, but I also knew that I had to do things very differently that next time around so that I could have the confident and positive postpartum transformation I was looking for.
Eventually, both my husband and I healed ang grew to the point where we were ready to try for baby #2.
But I knew we had a lot to discuss and work through before we even started trying.
And when we did the work and curated our perfect postpartum plan, we thrived.
Postpartum was good. There were hard times but there was also lots of light and positive energy to combat the hard times.
Even though I knew I had a lot to learn with time, I felt confident as a new mom and a mom of 2.
I had clarity on my journey ahead and how I wanted to shape my evolution. I relished n asking for help, accepting help and taking lots of me time. I laughed and found humour in what would have cause an exhausted outburst before. And i felt strong and proud of my body.
I loved being being postpartum.
There were 5 essential steps that I took on my journey to becoming a mom of 2.
And these 5 steps are inspired by what I’ve learned as a home visitor and postpartum doula, my own unique experience as a postpartum woman and my love of journals, planning, ritual and mindset work.
These are my top 5 survival tips for new moms. But really my top 5 thriving tips for new moms. I use these 5 steps as my foundation when supporting new moms as a coach and postpartum doula.
And when they work through each step thoughtfully and intentionally, they are able to thrive, not just survive, as new moms.
1. Create A Postpartum Vision Board
I sat and imagined different scenarios and how I would ideally handle each one with two kids. I imagined going grocery shopping, doing school drop off, doing family activities that still engaged my older child, how my days with my infant would flow, how we could get out of the house and what that would look like.
I kept all of these dreams, wants and desires on my postpartum vision board. And I revisited my postpartum vision board often.
I used it as a foundation for every aspect of my postpartum recovery, including curating my postpartum plan, choosing my prenatal education, assembling my support squad and the local resources I accessed.
2. Write Your Postpartum Plan
Next, I started putting together my postpartum plan. The first thing I did here was work on assembling my support squad and sharing exactly how they could support my growing family.
Writing my postpartum plan involved a whole lot of communication between my partner and I.
Our main discussions focused on our expectations of one another, who would handle what, how we would handle different situations, and just working through our goals and putting together our game plan for after birth.
I created postpartum plans for about 11 different areas in my new mom life, including our sleep plan, postpartum nutrition, processing my birth and tapping into local providers and resources.
During the postpartum planning process, I referred back to my postpartum vision board often so that I could stay focused on my most important goals and needs after birth.
I also continued tweaking and adding to my postpartum plan throughout my pregnancy and even after I gave birth.
Postpartum planning is an ongoing process. It’s not just about the plan, it’s also about the follow through and the follow up
3. Take Classes For New Parents
After I started writing out my postpartum plan, I set out to find the right prenatal education to support my journey. Prenatal education will help you to shape realistic expectations and begin to mentally prepare you for the journey ahead.
Given that this was my second pregnancy, I felt prepared when it came to newborn care. So I focused on finding a childbirth education class and a postpartum class.
Ultimately, we ended up taking a combination of a childbirth class and a postpartum class taught by the same instructor. Even though my husband and I had experienced pregnancy, birth and postpartum before, these classes served as a great refresher and helped us to create a more realistic postpartum plan.
If you are wondering What classes should I take before I give birth? Or What does a new mom need to know? you are not alone.
As a postpartum doula, I suggest expectant parents take 3 prenatal classes: a childbirth education series, a postpartum focused class and a newborn care class.
The childbirth education class should be taught by an independent childbirth educator and focus on the birthing process and comfort measure. Hospital based birth classes usually focus on getting you familiar with your birthing place and their routines. I suggest taking this class in addition to a full childbirth series.
The postpartum class should prepare you for what to expect after birth and how to create a solid postpartum plan to help you throughout your postpartum season.
The newborn care class should get you familiar with normal newborn patterns and how to care for your newborn. A good class will highlight infant temperaments, bonding and things you can do to promote healthy growth and development as your baby gets older..This class will also usually include lessons on breastfeeding and infant feeding.
4. Focus On Nesting Intentionally
I started nesting early and intentionally. Using my postpartum vision board and my postpartum plan, I began to prepare not only my home but also my mind, body and spirit for postpartum.
I wanted to take advantage of my prenatal countdown and get ready early so that I could have as much peace of mind as possible.
Each day I took small steps to get ready for postpartum and the journey to being a mom of 2. There are countless nesting checklists out there but for my postpartum doula clients, I recommend they start with preparing their:
- Home – by decluttering hotspots around your home and your baby’s room.
- Mind – by getting into prenatal focused therapy or support groups, connect with therapist you like early on
- Body – by strengthening and stretching my core and my pelvic floor muscles
- Spirit – keeping a pregnancy/postpartum journal, setting up my birth/motherhood altar, affirmations everywhere
Yes, that is a lot of prenatal work to get ready for postpartum. It is all soooo worth it though.
5. Create a postpartum routine and incorporate postpartum rituals
One thing that stood out to me with my own experience is that I felt so frustrated when I felt my days were unorganized and had no focus. As I approached my 2nd postpartum journey, I was really unsure of how to plan ahead to find purpose in each day.
I started with creating a super simple routine around my basic needs each day. Things like showering, brushing my teeth, getting dressed and doing my hair and eating breakfast. Super simple and basic. I thought I would have the capacity for more – more activities and more projects – but once I was actually postpartum I realized the importance of getting back to basics.
Slowing down and focusing on my basic needs each day allowed me the space to find balance in my own time and ways. It forced me to re-evaluate the things that are most important and the things that could wait.
I also incorporated postpartum rituals into my journey. Mainly to celebrate and honor milestones but to also bring some beauty and spirit work into my experience.
Some postpartum rituals that I love and that I use in my work supporting brand new moms are:
- Mother Blessing ceremony
- Postpartum belly binding
- Postpartum womb massage
- Staying in bed after birth
- Closing the bones ceremony
You can choose to try modern postpartum practices or more traditional or cultural postpartum rituals. Whichever you choose, these postpartum rituals will help to honor your growth as a new mother.
Bonus Tip: I also revisited my postpartum plan often throughout my postpartum journey. This is when I was able to really be clear about what was and wasn’t working in the moment and where I could make changes.
If you want to survive postpartum, you need to thrive postpartum.
Those are the steps I took to create a postpartum that I loved. After I had done all of this prep work, my postpartum journey still had its twists and turns. It wasn’t easy by any means. And by many standards my 2nd birth was more traumatic than my first. But my recovery was so much better.
My transition to motherhood felt so different from my first experience. I felt more at peace, more confident, more in control, and more clear on my journey than ever before.
Even in the toughest moments, I never felt lost. I knew I could always go back to my vision and my routines.
Am I forgetting something? Leave a comment below and share your top tips for new moms who want to thrive after birth.