In my recent blog So you had a baby, what next? I talked about how tricky it is to fully prepare for the post partum experience. In my latest blog, I spoke about utilising affirmations during your pregnancy and labour. After supporting so many new families, I noticed there is a common thread of communication that a lot new parents are internalising. Today I want to give you and your partner some affirmations to remember and use while you get to know yourselves as parents.
It is beautiful to see couples have a relatively seamless transition into parenthood, those that feel instantly comfortable in their new roles; Their baby feeds and settles well, Mum feels good in her body, dad is helpful, plenty of active support around them and little to no anxiety about venturing out in to public as a new family. (Insert fist pump and party poppers)
If this dreamy narrative is not your reality, I know it may not feel ok right now, but it is ok. You are not doing anything wrong, you are normal, you are not failing, you are not useless or doomed and you are definitely not alone. Every family is different, we are all different and babies are all different.
When your energy and attention is consumed by your new baby, it is common for you both to be feeling like your own relationship is a little abandoned. Often we have a mix of feelings towards our partner, particularly once they return to work; we can feel punches of resentment, agitation, jealousy and impatience, made all the more confusing when those feelings are interrupted by overwhelming respect and admiration.
Depending on your birth experience, you may take a little longer to recover than you anticipated and that can amplify all those feelings. Perhaps your dream of breastfeeding is not matching your reality, or your enthusiasm to be social is jarred by your exhaustion.
If you are someone who is use to being organised or independent, surrendering to the unpredictable demands of someone so tiny and helpless can be confronting. On the other hand, if you are feeling incredible but your partner is having a hard time adjusting, that can cause friction in your expectations towards them.
So how do we support each other in the less than perfect moments of parenthood?
Kind communication is essential. With each other, and with ourselves. Below are some ways of communicating positively to yourself and your partner whilst still validating what you are experiencing and feeling.
As with my last post, take what feels valuable and valid, leave what doesn’t or use them as motivation to create your own mantras to help you through the days that feel particularly long and prickly.
Reminders for yourself Post partum
- I am doing the best I can, I am not expected to do anymore than that.
- I can ask for and accept help whenever I need it.
- There is courage and strength in admitting I am struggling. I am not useless, I am learning.
- My value as a mother is not defined by my baby’s routine, my baby’s ability to breastfeed or by the length of time he/she sleeps for.
- I’m not enjoying today and that is totally acceptable.
- I admire ………………….(fill in the blank) because she can ……………….(fill in the blank) I can openly praise her without ridiculing myself because it is ok that I have different strengths.
- Missing pieces of my pre-baby life is normal and not a negative reflection on my love for my baby.
- I don’t have to like all the parts of motherhood to validate my love or gratefulness for motherhood.
- I am learning how to be a mother one day at a time, I will not accept unrealistic expectations of myself in this new role.
- I had some tough moments today and I am proud of myself for getting through those.
- I am proud of my intentions and wont expect perfection.
- I am allowed to feel good about myself today.
- It’s ok to say no today
Celebrating the little things when you are having big emotions is really important; Reframing your expectations about what you “should” be doing is also necessary for a healthy inner dialog. For example often we find ourselves saying “My baby only slept for 30 minutes or I can’t get anything done”, we say it like this because our expectations or desires are for our baby to have a nice long sleep and we want to achieve the worlds longest to-do list. If we change that to say “My baby slept for 30 minutes and that gave me enough time to have a cup of tea and wash the dishes” suddenly you are focusing on your achievements and can count it as a win.
A mothers day is often lived in 30 minute increments, instead of fighting that notion, run with it and notice the 48 high five moments that are available to celebrate.
- Baby slept for 1 hour = 2 high fives
- You got to hang out a load of washing = high five
- You settled your baby = high five
- You had a shower = high five (got to put on makeup or do your hair = extra high five and a fist pump)
- You went for a walk = massive high five
You get my drift.
So what about communication with your partner? It is helpful to remember that they too are learning and you will need to be really clear with them what it is you actually need from them. Acknowledge them, their efforts and desires. You’re a team, this is his story too.
For your partner
- I miss you, I miss us.
- I want to be considerate of your need to get up for work in the morning but I still need you to consider helping me out at night.
- I need you to notice how hard I am working to be the best mum I can be to our baby.
- You are really good at………….(fill in the blank) when I am not, that makes me proud and sometimes a little jealous.
- Are you overwhelmed? I am sometimes too.
- Can you please help me with……………….(fill in the blank) because I have noticed that is your strength.
- I work really hard to understand what our baby’s needs are all day and it’s not always easy. I love that you want to support us, please ask me what is helpful.
- I really need to be able to check out sometimes, you probably do too, can we work out how to support each other to get our own time.
- I am so proud of how hard you are working to be our provider, our supporter and an amazing Dad.
You won’t always feel like you can communicate calmly or with great articulation and that is soooooo normal. Just remember to give yourselves a high-five for all the times you do have a productive, healthy conversation. Need extra help? No problems, connect with me here and lets get you both feeling confident in yourselves and your new role.