The Postpartum Support That Wasn't: When The Postpartum Period Does Not Meet Your Expectations

Photo Credit: Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Cristian Newman via Unsplash

Maybe you had a great baby shower and everyone and their cousin showed up and told you they would come and help out after you had your baby; Maybe you have a large family and there is an unspoken expectation that you will come home to more help than you can use. Regardless, sometimes the postpartum period doesn't look exactly like we imagine it will. Perhaps something happened during birth that you weren't expecting, or maybe, all those people you expected to show up just never do and you are jarred into the reality that sometimes Motherhood isn't what you expect it to be.

Postpartum can be a very difficult period. Between the "fourth trimester", learning how to breastfeed, hormonal changes galore, and so little sleep. Here are some tips to help you get through the postpartum period when it was just not quite what you expected it to be.

1. Lower your expectations, and then lower them some more.

Maybe you expected your baby to sleep through the night by 4 weeks, or that you would get so much work done during your maternity leave, but your new baby is keeping you awake all night and you just aren't being as productive as you wanted to be. This can be a difficult transition for many new moms, especially when your baby seems like they are on no schedule that you can decipher. Take a few days and log your baby's sleep and eating habits and you may find that your baby is on somewhat of a schedule and this can help you maximize your time to get a little more work done.

2. Communicate your needs to friends and family

If you were expecting a parade of meals to show up at your door, and yet no one seems to have gotten the memo, you may need to communicate to a close friend or family member that you are surprised because you had a certain expectation and it hasn't been met. Instead of feeling forgotten and resenting your family and close friends, you may need to take matters into your own hands and contact that friend that has all the connections and just let them know that you could use some help.

3. Don't be afraid to reach out to a medical professional

If you seem crankier than usual and your partner is walking on eggshells, you may need to be in touch with your doctor to be evaluated for Postpartum Depression. Despite the stigma that is often associated with PPD, it is a very common condition and is easily treated.

4. Make a change

Maybe something isn't working for you. Perhaps you always wanted to breastfeed your baby, but now you dread each feeding; or, maybe you were dead set on your baby sleeping in the nursery from day one and your baby is still sleeping in your bedroom at six weeks. Don't be afraid to say that something isn't working for you and to make a change; you are the only one who knows what works best for your family.

Postpartum can be a difficult period for even the most prepared parent. Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to remember to give your self extra grace and make time for self care as you transition to having a new baby in your household.