Making the Most of Your Maternity Leave
Let's be real: maternity leave is not a vacation.
As you anxiously await the arrival of your little one, you might start to make plans for all the things you'd like to do during your maternity leave, ranging from painting the living room to traveling abroad.
However, despite what your co-workers believe, maternity leave is not quite as relaxing as it initially sounds, especially if you're expecting your first baby.
Plan to spend the first few weeks recovering.
Expectant parents tend to plan for the birth of their baby with precision. However, few consider the physical and emotional recovery from childbirth and the intensity of the baby's transition to life outside the womb. Whether you delivery vaginally or by cesarean, you'll be sore for a few weeks after giving birth, so take it easy. Resting as much as possible in the 2-4 weeks after birth will ease your overall recovery.
Whether it's the professional support of a postpartum doula, your mom's expertise in the kitchen, or an extra few weeks of time off work for your partner, having non-judgmental help is important. Consider in advance who is the best choice for each job. For instance, your mother-in-law might be the tidiest person you know, but when it comes to rocking the baby to sleep after a 2am feeding, she might not be the best pick for the job.
Get outside of the house.
Your sanity (and your Vitamin D levels) will thank you. When you're feeling up to it, go for a short walk around the neighborhood--even if it's cold! The fresh air will you do you good, and your can wear your baby underneath your maternity coat to keep her warm.
Use your gear.
Many parents are overwhelmed with what items they've purchased are a good fit for their needs and aren't quite sure how to make the most of the products they've invested in. A couple shifts with a postpartum doula can help you to become a master baby wearer, for example. Are you finding yourself not liking something you thought you'd love? Consider selling it or returning it while you still can.
Bond with your baby.
It sounds like a silly reminder, but try to remember how transient this time with your baby truly is. It won't be often that you'll have further chances to snuggle your baby on the couch. At the same time, recognize that it's okay if you feel like you need a break from your baby now and then. Mothering is an intense job, and it's a huge transition for first time parents. A postpartum doula or trusted caregiver can help you create balance between self care and bonding.
Thriving not surviving.
So many of the cultural messages we receive treat new parenthood as something to be "survived." The truth is, those first few weeks with your baby can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience with the right support.