Self Care, Self Love

  • How To Take Maternity Leave When You Are An Entrepreneur| A Postpartum Doula’s Perspective

    If you are an executive, entrepreneur, business owner or any other version of a boss babe, AND you are a mom to be…this is for you. You have been planning for months to welcome your first baby and now sh*t is about to get real. You’ve got all of the things, but emotionally, you’re a wreck.  You can’t avoid it any longer. It’s time to start really mentally preparing yourself to be a mom. You’ve done everything the books and blogs say you need to do and you feel ready, but you don’t feel prepared.

    And if you’re the type that’s used to planning your days and sticking to a tight schedule, the thought of taking maternity leave might be a completely foreign concept.  Especially, if you are a soloprenuer or manage a small team. The idea of taking a chunk of time away and/or leaving others in charge might worry you or seem impossible. You might be afraid that your business will suffer if you take maternity leave.

    But I’m here to let you know that taking maternity leave as an entrepreneur is totally doable and you and your business can thrive as a result.

    Here are some tips to help set you and business up for success as your embark on the journey to becoming a parent.

    ADD SOME STRUCTURE

    First things first ADD SOME STRUCTURE to your maternity leave.

    Define your maternity leave with a clear start date and end date. Some new parents feel just fine working right up until they give birth. Others may want to have some time off before baby arrives. For example, you can decide to take 4 full weeks off from work starting after you give birth. Or you could choose to take time off starting before your due date. Either way, schedule time off and take it seriously.

    Can you take 4, 6, or 8 weeks off from your business to give yourself the time to recover and care for your newborn?

    How will you return to your work? Many new moms find that they like to ease themselves back into working. If possible, making your first couple of days back, half days, can help you get back into the swing of things without being overwhelming.

    Be ready when its actually time for your maternity leave to start. The structure of your business will play a huge role here.

    If you are a solopreneur, think about the systems that you have in place to keep your business running smoothly.

    If you have a team, think about who your point person will be, what are the crucial tasks that must get done on a day to day basis, and the situations that you should be notified about. Make sure each member of your team is clear about their roles and your expectations while you are on your leave.

    Either way, you should also think about how you will communicate important details about your leave with your clients or customers. They will appreciate you being up front about what is going on with you and your business. 

    READY YOUR HOME

    Next it’s time to READY YOUR HOME, not just your body.

    In addition to getting your body ready for pregnancy and birth, it’s also very important that you get your home ready. Prepare you home for baby but also for lounging, resting and nursing/feeding your baby.  You may have also begun to prepare a nursery or sleep space for your baby. Don’t forget to create a cozy space for nursing your baby and for you to lounge and rest. This should be outside of your bedroom, if possible.

    When preparing your registry, add items with readying your whole home in mind. You might be surprised at which typically registry items actually go unused. Talk to real moms to find out what are the absolute necessities after giving birth.

    HONOR YOUR BODY

    HONOR YOUR BODY and your experiences in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

    Many entrepreneurs learn the value of self care and investing in your physical and mental wellness as a part of their entrepreneurship journey.  Pay special attention to your body after birth and prioritize your physical recovery. Your physical recovery and how satisfied you are can impact your overall postpartum and how your bond with your baby.

    Take the time to document and track important details of your birth and physical recovery.  Allow your self the space and time to process your birth so that you can let go of any pain or trauma from your experience. There are lots of different ways to work through the hard feelings that can come with birth and postpartum. You deserve to find the method that works for you.

    FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM

    Get real and FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM. This is not a time to take lightly.

    Many business owners and first time parents look at the time as a vacation. They plan on outings and trips with their new baby. And I get it. You probably haven’t had a non-work vacation in who knows how long. But this is not that. Your maternity leave aka the early part of you postpartum, is not a get out and explore vacation.

    It’s more of a stay off of your feet and let others take care of you kind of vacation. And I see that when I put it like that, it sounds pretty effing awesome.  But don’t forget that during this time you will recovering from pregnancy and birth in addition to caring for a brand new human being that cannot meet any of their own needs.

    Postpartum and maternity leave is really a time to focusing on resting, recovering, and learning your baby. Things like housework and workwork kind of fall to the way side temporarily. This is when you lean heavy on your circle of support to maintain those things, so that you can focus on getting motherhood of to a great start.

    Give yourself time and grace to rest and recover. And when you feel ready, start connecting with your local mom community. Being an entrepreneur can have its lonely moments, especially if you are a solo boss. The time after birth can also be similarly isolating. With the intersection of those two lifestyles, the sooner your find your mom gang or mom bestie, the better.

    So there you have it. A postpartum doula’s take on how to rock maternity leave as an entrepreneur. Some thing that taking maternity leave will hurt their business but its actually the opposite. When you chose to focus on your self and your new family after birth, you allow yourself the space and clarity to step away from your business and return eagerly and confidently.

    how to take maternity leve when your an entreprenuer< a small business owner, CEO or the boss
  • “I still feel a little postpartum…”

    “You know. I had my babies over 20 years ago and somedays I still feel a little postpartum.”

    These are the words a middle aged woman spoke to me in a confident but hushed tone as we waited in line at Carters. She was shopping for her first grandbaby and I was shopping for my own son who was 6 months old at the time.

    I was wearing him on my back in a woven wrap and he was sleeping soundly as I quickly bopped through the racks, making my selection and hopping in line before it got too long.  She got in line behind me 1 minutes later and commented on how cute my baby was and how much she loved my wrap. She had worn her own sons but they didn’t have such pretty wraps when she had her babies. I explained to her that I am a baby wearing and cloth diaper nerd and a postpartum doula so my love runs deep

    She asked the typical questions, “so what exactly does a postpartum doula do?” and had the typical response “I wish I had known about postpartum doulas after I gave birth.” Then she says “How long does postpartum last?”

    I explained to her that the medical definition defines
    postpartum as the 6-8 weeks after birth. But I also told her that a lot of
    women still have physical issues related to pregnancy and birth at 3, 6 and
    even 12 months after giving birth. Some moms equate the postpartum feeling with
    breastfeeding. So once they have weaned, they say that they feel they are out
    of the “baby stage.”

    I felt like I was doing too much. After all we were shopping for onsies and I was a complete stranger. But she was listening and nodding intently as I spoke. So I continued…  

    Postpartum is more than just your physical recovery from
    pregnancy and birth. It is more than the baby blues or postpartum depression.
    Postpartum has many layers that are all interdependent. Success or satisfaction
    of one area of postpartum, like physical healing, can have an impact on your
    overall experience and effect other areas like, mastering newborn care.

    I could tell that my words were resonating with this woman.

    She leaned in close and said in a hushed but confident voice “you know, some days I still feel postpartum. And I had my babies over 25 years ago.”

    I was surprised and not surprised at the same time. Not surprised because I had become used to mothers sharing with me how they felt postpartum for 2, 3 and 4 years. How they never felt closure from their birth or had issues postpartum that lingered as time went on.

    But I WAS surprised when she said 25 years ago. Surprised and saddened that the way we do birth and postpartum in the United States is leaving women scarred and affecting them for life. Women are walking around holding onto birth trauma. And without that tangible sense of community surrounding their journey to motherhood, they are not able to safely process their experiences.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to dread postpartum, or hope to just survive. With the right planning, preparations and circle of support you can enjoy your time after birth and have a thriving postpartum. And I’m here and ready to help you get started on that journey.

  • 4 Life Changing Skills Every Postpartum Woman Should Have

    Oftentimes in the birth world, much of the focus is on the life changing experience that is pregnancy and childbirth and the new baby. And when we talk about the postpartum period, we tend to talk about postpartum depression or breastfeeding.

    But what about your transition from pregnant to parenting, from maiden to mother? What about your recovery from the 9 months of pregnancy and on average 19 hour labor and delivery?

    Medically, your postpartum recovery begins in the hour after your baby’s birth and last 6- 8 weeks as your uterus contracts back down into the pelvis and most of your body systems return to their non pregnant state.

    However, there are many other important events occurring the months after childbirth. You will be navigating your role as a new parent and what that means in your larger family and social networks. You will also be adjusting to physical and mental changes as your body recovers from pregnancy.

    Professionals and parents will agree that these changes can take much longer than 6-8 weeks to be resolved and that the healing time is closer to 12 months.

    The transitions and recovery that characterize your postpartum period will leave you in a vulnerable state which without the right preparation and support system can lead to serious physical and mental issues, including postpartum depression.

    And while there is certainly strength and beauty in vulnerability and asking for the support of those around you, it is normal to fear the unknowns of postpartum.

    You may have heard well-meaning horror stories from family and strangers alike. You might feel discouraged about your parenting, breastfeeding or recovery goals.  You might be hoping to just survive the postpartum period.

    This is totally normal. And the good news is that there are things you can do now to set your self up for a thriving postpartum.

    Becoming a mother will present new challenges in your life, making it is easy for you to your care and needs behind all of the other things you have to focus on.

    With the right tools, you can reach your goals and take hold off your new normal.

    You can do more than just survive postpartum, you can thrive.

    It sounds easy but you may be wondering how exactly you can do this. There are 4 skills that are constantly popping up in maternal health research as necessary to taking charge of your postpartum health, and your baby and family’s health.

    This also has long term effects on your life. More positive energy and confidence as a new mom means a deeper strong bond early on with your baby. And a strong bond with your baby early on has a positive effect on your life and help your child learn to form healthy relationships.

    By focusing on becoming stronger in these 4 areas you will be able to combat the stressors and challenges you may face in the months and years after you give birth.

    1|The ability to mobilize social support

    This is how you give and receive support from others. Support from close friends and professionals have been show to have positive effects on physical, social and mental health of new moms. A combination of emotional support, instrumental support and informational support will help soften how you view the challenging times.

    Get comfortable with asking for help and saying yes to help from others. But also be ready to be really specific about what your needs are and the type of help that you need. You are not a bad parent for needing and asking for help. You are not a burden. You will not hurt someones feelings by saying exactly what you need from others. And you are not alone.

    2|Self-efficacy

    Self efficacy is your belief in your ability to perform a behavior or task successfully. Essentially, it is your self confidence in yourself as a mother. Higher self- efficacy, or confidence in your abilities as mother, means the better you are going to be able to care for your baby, yourself and your family. Higher maternal self -efficacy is also linked to child development.

    Start building up that mom confidence –  momfidence? Is that a word? as early as possible. Practice the skills necessary to care for an infant, spend time with family and friends with infants and ask questions.  Use positive affirmations to keep the positive thoughts flowing. Celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges without becoming discouraged. You will find your self-efficacy or momfidence growing each day.

    momfidence

    3|Positive coping strategies

    Coping is how you react and deal with a challenging situation or demand. Coping can happen as a reaction to or in anticipation to these demands or problems. Each mother copes differently depending on the situation and her unique personality but there is a connection between positive coping strategies and addressing any issue that arise head on.

    There are three types of coping strategies you can add to your skill set. You can change how you view or think about a problem, redefining or accepting the problem as is.  You can take action to lessen of get rid of the problem completely.  And you can change how your react to the problem, using meditation, relaxation or prayer.

    4|Realistic expectations

    We develop expectations as way to quickly and easily navigate our world. However, when our expectations are out of touch with the reality of a challenge, it can disrupt our lives and those around us. If your expectations are not met, this can have an affect on how you adjust to motherhood. Unmet expectations can also affect your ability to use the above skills when needed.

    Don’t be blindsided by postpartum. Get hands on experiences soothing a fussy baby. Talk to other moms about their experiences. Really listen but don’t let their experiences scare or discourage you. Know that each woman, each pregnancy, each labor, each delivery, each postpartum is unique and special. Use the experiences they share to form realistic ideas about how you see yourself as a mother.

    Start now

    Don’t wait until the postpartum period to start working on these skills. As soon as you learn that you are expecting you can start identifying the family, friends and professionals that make up your support network. By asking for help and learning from their experiences you will begin forming your expectations for your own mothering experience. You can start practicing using affirmations and positive self talk as your progress throughout your pregnancy. You can also plan ahead and identify not only potential challenge but also how you will cope.

    By working on these skills early on, you can set yourself up for postpartum success. I love helping new parents refine these skills in my postpartum planning sessions, where together we pinpoint your goals and create a custom action plan.

    4skills4postpartum

    Reference:

    Fahey, J. O. and Shenassa, E. (2013), Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Women in the Postpartum Period: The Perinatal Maternal Health Promotion Model. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 58: 613–621. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12139

  • I Love My Self, I’m Worth A Lot

    … Don’t say I’m not, you can’t see inside of me!

    Did you ever sing that song at school or camp? I remember singing that song everyday at Vacation Bible School as a kid. I can only remember that one line from the song but after a quick search on google, I learned that the song is called the Self Worth Song.


    The Self-Worth Song

    I’m proud, I’m strong, I’m ready for whatever comes along.

    I’ve got good friends, we’ll stick together till the end.

    I like myself! I’m worth a lot! I like myself! I’m worth a lot!

    And don’t you tell me that I’m not ‘cause you can’t see inside of me.


     

    The song is geared towards kids and apparently popular at summer camps across the United States. It’s great way to get them singing and chanting affirmations to build them up.

    I think as a new parent this song can be so empowering. Becoming a new mom and parenting a newborn baby can lead you to question every shred of self confidence you have within yourself. You will question if having a baby was the right choice, if you will ever sleep for more than 2 hours at a time again, if you are truly capable of being this baby’s parent, are you a bad parent for doing or not doing something. You will feel alone and isolated at times.

    When you start to feel really low like you can’t go on another second, sing or chant these words to yourself or loud and proud*.

    Internalize it. Know that the words are true and meaningful.

    You are strong, you are a good parent. You CAN handle whatever life and your new baby throw your way.

    You have a strong support network. You have people who love you and are ready to support you in whatever way you ask.  And just like they are there for you now, you will do the same for them when they are having a baby.

    You are worthy. You are worthy of love. From other but most importantly from yourself.

    And you don’t hear the words of anyone or anything making you question if you are worthy because they don’t know your story or your journey.

    *Of course there are some silly hand gestures to go along with the words but that’s totally up to you if you want to add that on.

    .Sources

    Shrooti, S., Mangala, S., Nirmala, P., Devkumari, S., & Dharanidhar, B. (2016). Perceived Maternal Role Competence among the Mothers Attending Immunization Clinics of Dharan, Nepal. International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery4(2), 100–106.