Maternity Leave Tips
In the blink of an eye, 15 weeks have come and gone and I am getting ready to enjoy my last week of Maternity Leave. How did it happen so fast?! These last 15 weeks have been unlike anything I was expecting, and there are so many things I wish I was told before my baby girl was born. This post is for all the expecting mamas out there planning for Maternity Leave. Here are some tips for making the most of (and really just surviving…) your time off. Get ready for the most crazy beautiful roller coaster of your life!
1. UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF MATERNITY LEAVE
First, it’s important to understand what Maternity Leave is and what it isn’t. Maternity Leave is meant to allow new moms time to heal from delivery and bond with their new baby. It is not a vacation, so you shouldn’t plan as though it will be. Try not to commit to any projects or trips during this time and just plan to enjoy your new baby!
I was grossly unprepared for the amount of healing my body would need after delivery. I assumed I would have a textbook delivery and would heal quickly. What I didn’t expect was to have a minor complication that would add weeks onto my healing time. Every woman is different, and every delivery is different. But plan to take it easy and rest as much as possible for at least the recommended 6 weeks. And it’s OKAY if your recovery takes longer than that! Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. It took me a full 8-10 weeks before I started to feel normal again.
3. SIGN UP FOR AMAZON PRIME
If you aren’t already an Amazon Prime member, now is the time to sign up! The first few weeks with a new baby involve a lot of trial and error. It’s inevitable that certain products won’t work for your baby, or that there was something you forgot to buy ahead of time. The last thing you’ll want to do is change out of your pajamas, put your newborn in the car seat, and drive to the store. Amazon Prime was a total lifesaver for me! If you’re not ready to commit to a membership, at least sign up for a 30-Day Free Trial.
4. HAVE A PLAN FOR VISITORS
The first few weeks postpartum were really difficult for me for many different reasons, and I made it worse by saying yes to every visitor. We had visitors every single day for the first 3 weeks and while it was so nice to see everyone, I was completely exhausted. Before you bring your baby home, come up with a plan for how you’ll handle visitors. What will you do if someone is over and your baby needs to eat or sleep? Will you have a designated day or time that you’ll limit visitors to? Will you allow visitors to hold the baby, or bring their young children to meet the baby? Whatever you decide, remember this is your time with your baby, so you make the rules! And if you’re not feeling up to it, don’t be afraid to say “no”. Your friends and family will understand.
5. MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY
When you’re giving all of your time and energy to your new baby, it’s easy to put your own wants and needs on the back burner. Don’t forget to frequently set aside some time to do something that makes you happy! Maybe it’s just going to the store alone, or giving yourself a pedicure. You’ll need some “me time” to de-stress and recharge your batteries. You’re a better mom when you’re a happier YOU.
6. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER
This next tip is something few people will talk about, but it’s something I really wish someone told me before I went on maternity leave. After you have a baby, your spouse or significant other will drive you crazy. Like, really crazy. Over the stupidest things. You’ll be emotional (thanks, hormones), your every move will revolve around the baby, and your significant other or spouse will get to leave every day to go to work. And in your exhausted, jealous, sleep deprived state, you’ll take it out on them. During this time, it’s so important to communicate with each other!
When my husband would come home from work, he would immediately jump into feeding our pets and starting dinner because he thought that was the best way to help me. What I really needed was a break from being attached to the baby all day (cue the mom guilt for even feeling this way!), but he had no idea because I never told him. When I finally talked to him about it, everything changed and I wish I had said something sooner. You are both figuring out this new life together, and neither one of you know what you’re doing. You have to communicate and support one another!
7. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
Mom guilt is real. Motherhood is hard. Everyone will have an opinion about how you should raise your child and in someone’s eyes, you will always be doing it wrong. There will be days when the baby hasn’t stopped crying or when the pain of breastfeeding brings you to tears. You’ll be certain that there’s no way you’re doing this whole parenting thing right. In those moments, remind yourself that you are amazing, and that having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom! You got this! It will get easier but until it does, hang on and enjoy the ride!