(I have written this post as a part of a paid campaign with UCHealth to help women navigate their pregnancy. All opinions, experiences, and questions are my own.)
I first became a mom two and a half years ago. My first daughter, Scarlett, was born three weeks early and came on Leap Day 2016. My labor and delivery was a long process (I was diagnosed with Cholestasis and induced at 37 weeks as a result). It was traumatic and definitely not ideal, but nonetheless I was all of a sudden thrown into motherhood. You can never be prepared for what this experience fully entails and you really can never know how much you need a tribe around you until you become a mom. Being a mom is one of the most amazing gifts but is also a heavy responsibility that rests on your shoulders 24/7.
The week I had my daughter I started attending a small group at my church. This was a group of young moms who seemed to understand the reality I faced. A reality of constant worry, continuous mom guilt, and many times included talks of breastfeeding and how to discipline our two year olds.
At times we need someone to sit beside us and say “me too, I have been there, I survived, you’ll survive too.” This group of women has become this to me. We have walked through some very real and difficult moments with each other. We have helped new mamas through postpartum depression, through babies in the NICU, and even just mama’s night out.
I wanted to share some resources and ideas to get through the first few months of parenting.
Here is a list of common struggles and how I personally have experienced breakthrough in these areas:
Mental health has been such a taboo subject for so many years and I am thankful that people are finally opening up and talking about it. Anxiety and depression is real and needs to be spoken about to work through.
I haven’t personally dealt with postpartum depression but I have friends and family members who have and faced the social stigma of having these issues.
Here are some practical tips of fighting anxiety and depression in the beginning stages of having your newborn:
Image by Rhema Faith Photography
Tell your Dr./Midwife how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to call the nurses line if you are concerned. PPD (Postpartum Depression) is more common than you think and is NOTHING to be ashamed about. 10-15% of women deal with PPD. Reach out for help if you suspect you are dealing with PPD.
UCHealth has a great article on understanding postpartum depression and the signs:
Before you even have baby, talk with your partner about watching out for these signs, and to check in on your emotional health.
I know you’re exhausted, I know maybe you haven’t showered in five days, and that none of your clothes fit, but getting up and getting dressed, maybe putting makeup on, and doing your hair has helped me so much! I think it helps me feel a little more like myself again. A good friend once told me your first kid is the hardest because they take your independence. This is so true, in the midst of a huge change, feeling just a little bit more put together has helped me cope with the change and know that someday things will be back in a groove again.
3.Get out of the house:
I know you think I’m crazy, but for me, getting out of the house a few times a week helped so much! Go for a walk, get your baby in the carseat and go through the Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks drive-thru. You don’t even have to get them out of the car! Just get into the sun, feel some fresh air and again, remember that things will feel normal again soon.
I know that I am a lucky girl with an amazing husband and amazing support. I also know that even with having amazing support it’s hard to ask for help or even talk about the crazy thoughts that go through our head. I definitely have feared the worst happening to our babies when they are so helpless, and I know some of those fears can start to control your thoughts. Talk about those fears. Say them out loud to a loved one and I promise you will feel better. Though opening up like this can be hard, it’s so important to let these feelings out and work through them. If you don’t have support in a partner or friends that you feel would understand, talk with your doctor about resources or therapists you can see.
I talked earlier about the tribe I have found in my church’s small group. Find a group like that! I know it’s not always just that easy but I know they are out there, and if you can’t find one, create one. Find local mamas that are in the same place as you and get together with them. Facebook is packed with local mom groups and I know women are always up for meet-ups with other mamas. Go out on a limb and host a meet up! I promise you will make lasting friendships in these women!
Check out this article about local UCHealth support groups!
These are offered in many regions of Colorado!
Here is an international online support group https://www.facebook.com/groups/25960478598/
You can find more resources on their page.
Here are more resources if you feel like you have symptoms of PPD:
In my previous post, I talked about how breastfeeding did not come naturally for me and my first born. It was HARD. It was a battle every feeding and I felt alone when most my friends LOVED it and would talk about how it came easily to them.
Scarlett was born three weeks early. She was sent straight to the nursery and spent three days in there. She wasn’t in our room with us. My milk took over a week to come in, and she had a lip tie, and her latch was ALWAYS painful. We were not set up for success in nursing but with the support of the amazing UCHealth Lactation Consultants I was able to overcome it all and nursed her for 14 months!
Here are some steps I took on my breastfeeding journey to help me survive:
Image by Debi Rae Photography
The encouragement I was given by an amazing Lactation Consultant was so crucial in helping me get passed the pain and hiccups of the first few weeks, and later months of breastfeeding. Becky (who has now retired) helped me feel able and empowered to feed my baby, and also encouraged me to trust my gut when it came to taking care of my baby. She said to me “You’re her mama, you know what’s best for her” and those words were such an encouragement to help phase out so many other voices telling me what to do and how to take care of my baby. She helped recognize that Scarlett had a lip tie and gave me practical tips to make nursing less painful.
I am so thankful for the help she gave me in those first few weeks!
Before you even leave the UCHealth hospital a Lactation Consultant will check in and make sure you and baby are doing well!
Wee steps is a support group where women can go and nurse and weigh their babies to see how many ounces they are getting. The Lactation Consultants are there to answer any questions you have as well. This is also a great way to meet some moms and find a tribe to help in support of being a new mama.
Here is the link for more info on local Northern Colorado Lactation Support through UCHealth https://www.uchealth.org/locations/uchealth-wee-steps-at-poudre-valley-hospital/
Also UCHealth is a baby friendly hospital and all of your nurses are trained in helping you with breastfeeding and latching! So know you will have support even from the moment you deliver!
If you’re outside of Northern Colorado, reach out to your health care provider for local lactation support groups.
You will find that most women, whether new or seasoned mamas, can be of incredible support to you. If you need help, ASK FOR IT. We have all been there, we all know how hard being a mama can be, and some are on the other side now and can tell you how they survived. (most likely on coffee)
If you are struggling in any of these areas, PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally, I might not always have the right advice but I can always be a listening ear!