100 Days of Darkness?
Early on in my postpartum days, someone sent me this article, titled The 100 Days of Darkness with a New Baby.
They talk about things like the extreme exhaustion, the hormones, the changes in your relationships. These are all very real things, but I want to share with you how I got through the first 100 days with minimal tears.
GASP! Co-sleeping?? But how do you not roll over and suffocate your baby? As long as you follow the basic guidelines, such as not being intoxicated, swaddling baby, or pulling the blankets up, you should be fine. I am not suggesting you do this if you're uncomfortable with it, but it has saved me. She shuffles or cries when she needs to eat, I roll over and get her latched, and close my eyes. Next thing I know, she's up again. I have gotten to the point where I am conditioned and we both barely wake up to latch and then we continue sleeping. It took a few weeks to get used to broken sleep, but I generally wake feeling rested and never need to nap in the day (and I'm not even drinking coffee!)
We also have a king bed, my husband is a light sleeper and the baby has lots of space. The hardest thing has been getting used to sleeping without curling up with the blanket right up to my neck. We keep the blankets at hip height and that just covers the baby's legs.
Here are some basic guidelines you can read more about.
2. Gut Health
Hormones being all over the place is a give-in after having a baby creating lots of ups and downs when it comes to your mood, but it doesn't mean that we can't do anything to mitigate that! Most of our serotonin (feel good hormone) is created in the gut. So when the gut is happy, we are happy. The best way to achieve this is to eat foods that don't aggravate the gut, and support with a probiotic. What foods aggravate the gut? Well, it depends and is quite personal, but if you rely mostly on whole foods and figure out what your gut doesn't like, you should be fine. Your baby can often tell you what they don't like and will show up as colic (common offenders are beans/legumes, gluten and dairy).
By maintaining a decent diet and keeping my gut happy, I have been able to keep my mood from spiraling into darkness as my hormones work to stabilize.
Vitamin D, Vitamin C, fish oils, magnesium... these have all played a role in keeping my nutrients up and staying happy and healthy throughout the early postpartum days. When your body has all the tools it needs to support itself (immune, bowel, brain, bones etc.), then you will be happier, and so will baby. Remember, baby gets all the nutrients she needs from you, and you get what's left, so keep yourself topped up!
I actually just continued on with my prenatal supplement plan, because even though I'm not pregnant anymore, my body still needs nutrients at the same rate because a lot of what I take in goes to baby through breast milk. Even if you're formula feeding, it's a good time to replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy.
4. Embracing "Dolce far Niente"
Italian for, the sweetness of doing nothing! I remember in the early days when she would want to sleep on me all day and I would get so anxious, guilty, worried, upset that I couldn't get up and make a meal, or clean the house, let alone go pee or reach the TV remote. I would sit there, preoccupied with all the things I couldn't do, that I forgot to enjoy the very thing I had waited so long to do... snuggle my baby!!
It can be difficult in the moment to remember that these moments are short lived and to just embrace them. It can be hard for someone who is used to running around all day, to slow down and enjoy the precious moments, but trust me, they go by so quickly and I'm learning to cherish every moment I have her in my arms.
Once I passed the first 6 weeks, and got clearance from my midwife and pelvic floor physio, I felt like my life was renewed! Once I started exercising, I felt better than ever! But even before that, walking made a huge difference between having a good day or a bad day. On the days I would get out for a walk, I felt accomplished and like I wasn't stuck in the living room all day. That lead to me not resenting my husband for "having a life" when he got home from work (win win!).
Also, doing some postpartum specific rehab/training helped me to feel like I was prioritizing my needs as someone who has just gone through intense physical changes (pregnancy and birth). Putting energy into your recovery is paramount! Here are some basic ways to start rehabilitating your body after childbirth.
6. Accepting Help
This was a tough one for miss independent over here. I am someone who has always taken pride in doing things for myself. When you have a baby and are spending the majority of your time feeding, changing, holding a baby, it is absolutely imperative that you not only accept help, but ASK for it!
Once you embrace the fact that you need help, and you have a handful of people that you feel comfortable asking for it, life gets much easier. Things you can ask for:
- Can you cook/bring me some meals that I can freeze?
- Can you come over and help me fold this mountain of laundry?
- Can you come and keep me company?
- Can you come over so I can take a shower?
- Do you mind picking up a few groceries for me?
The list goes on. Ask and you shall receive! The truth is, people want to help. They just have no idea how they can help you. By asking for exactly what you need, it makes both of your lives that much easier.
How did you get through those first 100 days postpartum?
If you need help when it comes to nutritional support postpartum, book a discovery call to figure out how I can help you!