5 Ways to Navigate Postpartum Parenting
Parenting in any phase of life brings about its own set of challenges. Postpartum parenting is often overlooked, but it is a phase of parenting that brings about much uncertainty and is overwhelming for new parents – the sleepless nights, the endless desire for coffee, the zombie-like state of mind, trying to figure out what each cry means, and how to manage the precious life God has entrusted to you.Not only is the mother physically recovering from having the baby, but she may also be dealing with a flood of new or heightened emotions. She’s facing new physical, emotional, and spiritual roadblocks. She’s navigating this new realization that a huge part of her heart is now outside of her body.
Not only is the father trying to help care for mom and baby, but he is also often facing his own set of emotions – this strong and overwhelming desire to ensure his family is safe and taken care of them on multiple levels. The mother is trying to care for this beautiful new life and trying to find a new balance with her husband, career, faith, and dreams. She gives selflessly while often feeling like it is never enough.
The father is trying to provide for his family, but he is also trying to navigate his career, dreams, spouse, and spiritual leadership responsibilities. He constantly feels torn between his commitments, career, and not missing the milestones of his young child’s life.
Where there are other children in the home when a newborn enters the world, the parents are trying to give everyone attention, make everyone feel loved, trying to navigate a smooth transition, and reprioritizing their day-to-day.
5 Tips for Postpartum Parenting
If you are entering the postpartum parenting period, here are five things to consider as you navigate this new season of life:
1. Offer yourself grace.
The postpartum period can be a difficult one because you often feel torn between cuddling your newborn and the to-do list that continues to grow. A new mom often yearns for those cuddles after a feeding session but feels pulled to the sink full of dishes, the mountains of dirty laundry, and unanswered emails.
Remember that this season is chaotic, but it is short. Offer yourself grace when you can. Newborn cuddles will not always be there, but the stacks of laundry and dirty dishes are endless. Choose your battles.
2. Make every effort to connect with your spouse.If there is one certainty in parenthood, it is that you and your spouse are better together. Becoming a team and one another’s biggest cheerleader is one of the best things you can do for your marriage and your family. While it may be difficult to find time in the chaos of newborn schedules and a zombie-like state of mind, take time to just be together.
Have coffee together at dawn. Watch a movie together once the children are in bed. Have conversations about life and dreams at the dinner table. Send thoughtful text messages throughout the workday. Small things can go a long way when you are running low on time and energy.
Here are a few simple things you can do to connect with your spouse during the chaotic postpartum season:
- Play a board game while the baby sleeps
- Watch a new show
- Create an in-home movie theater, complete with popcorn!
- Do a Bible study together
- Bake a dessert together
- Cook dinner together
- Have your morning coffee together as you watch the sunrise
- Pray together
- Change diapers together (nothing bonds you quite like being peed on by your baby)
- Keep one another company while feeding your newborn
- Fold laundry together and do simple household tasks as a team
3. Let others help you.
One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to let others help you so you can connect as a couple. If someone offers to bring dinner over, drop off coffee, come help around the house, or hold the baby so you can shower – let them if that is something your heart so desires.
Sometimes removing some of the outside distractions and endless to-dos opens your schedule to spend more time connecting with your spouse and family. This is just a season – let others bless you so you can focus on your physical, spiritual, and emotional healing and connections.
It is pivotal to embrace a mindset of transparency during this season of life. If you feel like you are drowning in an unknown sea of emotions, ask for help. If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, be open and honest with your spouse. If you need someone to hold the baby so you can shower in peace and start a load of laundry or run to the coffee shop for your favorite drink, be vulnerable with your needs and feelings.
4. Recognize that this season of exhaustion will not last forever.While it is important to remember that having an infant in the home is a short season, it is an exhausting one. Right now, you might find that you constantly run on no sleep and struggle to form a complete sentence. Remember that it will not last forever. You must aim to live all-in throughout this season by soaking in your newborn’s scent, sitting on the couch snuggling and appreciating their littleness, and etching those milestones in your mind.
That first little smile is priceless. The first time they reach for you will make your heart melt. The first time they get sick and want nothing else but to be in your arms will leave your heart in a puddle of mush. You are your infant’s world and to be the best you can be for them, you must not neglect yourself – physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
While it feels like your child is the reason your world continues to spin, it is important to realize that you are human – do not be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, counselor, friend, or family.
5. Seek professional help.
The postpartum period is filled to the brim with a variety of emotions. It is often feeling stressed yet thankful, bliss and chaos, grateful and overwhelmed. These emotions can weigh heavily on your shoulders and send your emotions on a roller coaster that feels almost impossible to stop. It is in these moments that you must permit yourself to seek professional help.
Whether you feel depressed, grateful, overwhelmed, or like your emotions are in overdrive, please seek help. Your heart can still be thankful, and it does not make you a bad parent because your emotions feel heightened. This new season of life brings a whole new set of emotions.“Being a mother means having my heart permanently stitched to my sleeve, out there and vulnerable and afraid, yet somehow finding such fulfillment and hope that I’m able to appreciate the extraordinary journey. Though it is maddening, terrifying at times, it is also glorious and beautiful; and the most absurd part is that I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.” —Stephanie Jankowski
Schedule a counseling session today and let us aid you in your new parenting journey. It is in these chaotic and overwhelming new seasons where we need an extra hand to help us up when we are tired and cheer us on as we navigate uncharted territory.
Bible Verses for New Parents
For this child, I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. – 1 Samuel 1:27
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. – Psalm 91:4
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. – Psalm 91:15
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. – Psalm 127:3-4
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:5
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. – Psalm 37:7
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. – Psalm 46:1-5
“Father and Child”, Courtesy of Ксения, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Tiny Hand”, Courtesy of Bady Abbas, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Learning to Walk”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Napping With Daddy”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License