I often tell you to focus on yourself and try to get some me time. So I am going to practice what I have been preaching and give you a few minutes of me time by talking about you today, and not your babies.
Let's start with the fact that you deserve a medal. Not only because you are an involved enough mother to be reading up on parenting, but because you did it - you grew a baby in your belly, and gave birth to it (for my pregnant readers, you too will be here soon but don't shy away from accepting your current accomplishments, and also of course keeping your feet high up!). Really, the list of your accomplishments since you found out you were pregnant are endless, but so is the list of changes that your life and your body has been through.
Here are 14 things about your body and health that you should know:
1. You're body has been through it all. Every organ has felt stress and felt change, and what our muscles have been through is even more taxing. It is okay to no longer feel like you did before. The fact is that your life has changed, not just your body. So at some point, you need to take a step back and embrace the new you.
2. This doesn't mean that you don't strive to get your figure back (or whatever else you feel you are missing). However, with the hormone changes we have been through it may be harder for you than you imagine (I know it is for me). We all know moms that look like they never had children, but if you are not one of those few don't worry, you are in good company.
3. Your husbands unfortunately, may have forgotten everything that you have been through, even if they were in the room and helped to hold your legs in the air. Trust me, take every opportunity you can to remind them, it will help when they start to ask you what you do all day that keeps you away from the gym, or are rude about how your body is different now.
4. If your feet grew, try and look on the bright side and allow yourself to shop for a whole new range of shoes. I haven't indulged yet because I am in denial about all my never worn shoes not fitting me again (and frankly, I'm sticking to flats nowadays), but if you can afford it, feel free to go on ahead.
5. Do be careful though about the fact that there is alot more stress on your body while carrying a child (even one that is outside of your body), so try to be a tad bit practical as well to make sure that you do not aggravate your already taxed joints - your knee, back and hip do not need any more strain.
6. Did you know that holding your baby on your hip can actually change the curvature of your spine? Which eventually will affect all your joints. Try and keep baby in the center, but if he throws a fit (mine does), then make sure to alternate which side you hold your koala on.
7. Swollen hands? These take a while to come back to size, if ever. Set a goal in your mind (either in time or in weight - eg, "when I am 1 year post partum/ when I weigh 150 lbs...) and when you get there, if your fingers haven't shrunk back, you will have to accept that your hands will never be the same, and then just get your rings re-sized.
8. If you are among the many, many of us that have political ovarian syndrome or disease (they are actually two separate conditions, with similar consequences), you may be lucky enough for your hormone profile to actually have reset with the changes that your body has just been through. However, if you are among the unlucky minority (like me), who did not receive this long awaited relief, it may be even harder for you to lose weight (and unfortunately, even more necessary) - but try to be positive and stay at it. Whichever category you fall in, you will find changes to your hormone profile post baby so try and focus on the positive - whether it is your hair, skin or weight.
9. IUDs (intrauterine devices) - a lot of people don't know about these little things. They are a completely reversible and extremely safe form of contraception that is recommended for those who do not plan to have another child for a year or so. They are actually effective for 5 years but can be removed at anytime. Feel free to ask your doctor about it. (If you are a fellow PCOS victim though, beware that there is a small chance for you to experience bloating with this and have a slightly harder time losing that post baby weight - I know this from experience though it is extremely unusual and only affected me because of my already messed up hormone profile).
10. The stretch marks will eventually fade... eventually, or so I hear. But till then try and wear them with a little pride (since there's nothing else you can do).
11. Try to insulate yourself from the rat race - and not just when it comes to comparing how the kids are doing, but also when it comes to how you are progressing.
12. Postpartum depression is very serious, very real and not something to be ignored, or ridiculed. If you know someone suffering from this or if you yourself have been affected, do not shy away from seeking help.
13. Ignore anyone who offers you any advice or tells you that you can do it better! You already know how to take care of yourself (and your child), so trust your gut.
14. Don't shy away from getting a drink once in a while even if you are nursing. It is safe (you can do the strip test with milk alcohol strips, or use a rule of thumb: Wait 2 hours for wine, and 3-4 for the harder stuff). So, fill up and relax when you get a minute, you deserve it. Cheers!
A mistake I myself make is thinking I need to do it all by myself while juggling how I am feeling. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and doesn't make you (or me) any less human or any worse of a parent. Ask for help when you need it, and when it is offered to you, try and take it even when you don't think you need it, because it will recharge you for the next few hours if not days. It used to take a village to raise a child, so why do we try to do it all on our own?
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