Knowing What Expectations to Ignore

Unrealistic expectations can be harmful because they set us up for failure. Do not let that happen to you!

Part Two

Wonder Woman, shattering expectationsSetting realistic expectations about life with a newborn.

I love helping parents plan and prepare for their postpartum period.  Couples make birth plans to help them feel prepared and empowered during their labor and delivery. Planning for your postpartum period can help answer questions and allow parents to feel less anxious for this life change.  Taking the time to talk through what you think is going to happen versus the reality of what is likely to happen is important for this transition. Plan ahead for support or call in support before you feel like you are going to “lose it.” You may not experience all the expectations in the prior blog, or you may experience all of them and more. Setting realistic expectations can help with your postpartum emotions and your overall adjustment to parenting.  It doesn’t have to be BAD or TERRIBLE!

How to adjust your expectations of the newborn period and ignore the unrealistic ones:

Society: You should bounce right back.      Reality: You don’t have too.

Our society places huge pressures on moms to just bounce back and return to normal in no time.  Whether you have an emergency cesarean section or an un-medicated natural birth, YOUR BODY MADE, SUSTAINED AND BIRTHED A HUMAN! You are a ROCK STAR. Your body and mind need time to heal. Be kind to yourself and allow that to happen on its own, do not rush this process. If you want to live in your pajamas for a couple days, GO FOR IT! It took you 10 months to grow your baby, it may take the same or longer to bounce back.  Sleep, nourish your body, relax, heal and bond with the life you created. Do you!

Society: Life will be better when you put your baby on a schedule so you can get everything done.

Reality: You should’t schedule a newborn, your life revolves around their schedule.

You DO NOT have to do it all. There is NO perfect way to parent!  If this is your first, you are both learning about each other.  If you are a seasoned veteran, remember that every baby is different.  Do you thrive on schedules and routines? You are now on baby time, so in the beginning you may need to throw your schedules out the window. You will learn to be flexible as you adjust. Do not sweat the small stuff, let the little things go and know that it is OK to do things differently.  Work together.

Society: Kiss the time with your partner good bye.   Reality: You will have to make time for each other.

The truth is, your relationship will change. Google “how your relationship changes after the birth of a child” to find page after page of articles, research and expert advice from anyone and everyone.  Some couples grow closer together, while others drift further apart.  Keep the lines of communication open, do something special for your partner, be honest and share your frustrations and happiness together.  It is another huge adjustment if it has just been the two of you, do not forget to invest in each other! After all, you two did make your baby.

Society: Newborns sleep a lot, you shouldn’t feel too tired.     Reality:  yes, they do but not normally during the night.

Yes, you read that right! They do sleep a lot, typically between 16-20 hours a day. Unfortunately, it is not for long spurts and usually not during the middle of the night. Most people are not used to only getting tiny snippets of sleep night after night for extended periods. There is no way to prepare yourself for the utter exhaustion that newborns bring, so do not try.  Embrace it and sleep when they sleep.    Guess what?  All the stuff  on your to do list can wait until after the nap. Sleep or at least rest for the next round.  Do not be afraid to ask for HELP and REMEMBER even wonder woman takes off her cape.

Society: Life is so exciting with a new baby, I feel amazing.    Reality: Life is exciting but also overwhelming and sometimes you don’t feel like yourself.

Wow, where did these emotions come from?  One minute you are rocking your newborn smiling away, the next, you are overcome with emotions.  Tears are running down your cheeks and you feel deep sadness. Take a deep breath and remember your hormones are unbalanced also. They need to get back to your pre pregnant state and can wreak havoc on your emotions along the way.  You feel exhausted, uncomfortable, your breasts are full and leaking and you cannot recall when you showered last. You just want to feel better.  These are normal feelings. Sometimes they quickly vanish with a hug or a compliment but other times they linger. If you cannot seem to shake these feelings, ASK for help!  Tell somebody and know that you are not alone.

Society: You will have plenty of time to yourself with your first baby.    Reality: Not really.

Free time to yourself as a new mom?  Maybe, but not as much as you may want.  They do sleep a lot but they prefer to sleep right on you.  You are their place of comfort and safety. You must meet all their needs.  This makes MOM/ME time more difficult but not impossible. Learn to wear your baby. Make time for you. Period. Ten minutes here or there, EVERY DAY, just do it! Do not make excuses, make it happen! YOU, your baby and your family will thank you for it.

If you want help, call me today to discuss these and several other expectations to ignore.  NO matter what happens in those first few weeks, throw your expectations to the wind and sail into parenting like a champion.

Set yourself up for a great postpartum period by practicing compassion, giving yourself a break and ignoring what other people and society says .