Postnatal Advice for Mothers: Give Yourself Time

But when it comes to becoming a mother, there is no going back; there is only through. After birthing her child, every woman must pass through this initial adjustment phase. It is a strange and beautiful limbo zone that is both exhausting and exciting, mysterious and monotonous. When she arrives a the other side of the postpartum phase...she will most certainly be facing forward, prepared to take her next steps into motherhood.
— The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother

It has been nearly five weeks since having our fifth baby, and I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that we have a new precious being in our family to love and nurture. This postpartum period has not been without a wave of emotions and experiences that I am still processing. Birthing a baby into the world encompasses highs and lows, transforming a woman as it brings her into a new identity and sense of being.

The reality is that growing a baby in your body for nine months and then birthing that life into the world brings with it a surge of physical and emotional change. And all seasons of change are not without contradicting sentiments that ebb and flow: sometimes gently, and other times, overpowering, like crashing waves.

Navigating the Postpartum Period

In my earliest days of motherhood, the postpartum period was a vicious storm, swallowing me alive as I learned to care for new life while feeling lost in my newfound identity as a mother. Battling postpartum depression made my journey thorny and difficult to navigate.

Gratefully, I have found myself at this junction in life again, after bringing another sweet babe into the world. But this time, postpartum has greeted me like an old friend, and I have found comfort in this familiar yet beautifully messy season in life.

Perhaps it is that sense of familiarity that has guided my path and braved my steps, helping me face the beautiful and difficult through yet another transforming experience. Understanding that these newborn days are indeed fleeting, that the raw, intense emotions do eventually pass, that my body does gradually heal, that the sleep deprivation will end; this knowledge eases the discomfort and gives prominence to the beauty that is postpartum.

I have learned to give myself grace through it all, to honor a body that has given and endured, to let myself feel the emotions that come without judgment or criticism, to embrace the newness that greets me at these crossroads.

In the past few weeks, most days, all I have done is nurse and care for our baby, slowing down to a pace that hasn’t accomplished much that is tangible in the viewpoint of the world. And I’ve finally realized that this is perfectly okay. As I’ve soaked up her newness and given myself permission to sit still, suddenly what seemed like a whole lot of nothing is actually quite something.

The Postpartum Chapter in Motherhood

The postpartum journey, I have learned, is not something to be feared or a time to try to end prematurely. Rather, it is a season of honoring our bodies for bringing a new life into the world, it is a time intended for rest and recovery, a time for pausing and reflecting, a time to learn how to embrace ourselves in a new season of change and transformation; these days that make up this postpartum phase are perhaps the most sacred part of the childbearing story.

Yes, the postpartum period brings an intense paradox of emotions: the juxtaposition of true joy and gratitude to melancholy and grief to boredom and despair. It all exists here, and in giving ourselves space and time, we allow these feeling and experiences the room they need to move through us. Protecting these precious weeks and months in postpartum empowers women to step into motherhood.

If you are a mama in this postpartum chapter of your motherhood journey, know that whatever place you find yourself in - you will make it out okay. By giving yourself permission to embrace what you are feeling and to slow down long enough to take in the experiences of this precious time, you will find your footing and inch your way into this new chapter of your life.

Be gentle with yourself, as it takes patience and love to move through this time. Make a commitment to receive care and nurturing, from yourself and from others. You deserve this time of healing, rest, and bonding with your baby and the opportunity to honor yourself and your body as you settle into this new way of being.