You’ve just had a newborn and now you need some advice—about yourself. Self-care is not just millennial hype, it’s a revolutionary act best performed in sweat pants with a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.
Everyone’s welcome to parenthood is singularly unique but one thing we all get to experience in equal measure is an all-consuming responsibility unlike any other. I’m here to tell you the secret to overcoming it. Laugh. At. Yourself.
Seriously. Your sense of humor (and collection of stretchy pants) will probably be all that gets you through the really rough, totally amazing first weeks of parenthood. Not to mention prepares you for a lifetime of dealing with a little being with big opinions.
Top 5 Life Hacks for What Not to Do After Giving Birth
Now that we’ve covered what you should do, below are my favorite tips for things not to do after giving birth—spoiler alert: these too involve having a sense of humor.
1. Do not forget to turn the camera on yourself
Of the one billion snapshots and videos of my child passively eating up my mobile’s memory, one of the most treasured is a confessional video of me and my husband 24 hours after bringing our first-born home. It is hysterical. Shot in bed with zero filter, from that unforgiveable down-up angle that gives you 20 chins, we look completely overwhelmed and downright rundown, but touchingly united.
So when I think of things not to do after giving birth the first that comes to mind is forgetting to turn the camera on yourselves. Because even when it looks like everything is falling to pieces, you’re also falling in love. Capture that.
When you finally understand that you’ve been taking your pelvic floor for granted.
2. Do not tally up your ”mistakes”
The concept of a “perfect parent” doesn’t exist to a newborn. They need the creature comforts you can provide and want all the love you have to offer. So, if there’s anything not to do after giving birth it’s tallying up your “mistakes.”
Spare yourself the running list of things you should have known or could have done better; try as best you can not to compare yourself to other parents. Because at the end of the day, your little boss of a baby isn’t going to demote you from BEST PARENT EVER anytime soon.
3. Do not become isolated
The days post birth will be long. Very, very long and very, very exhausting. Understandably, it makes sense that you’d want to nail down a routine and get a handle on parenthood as quickly as possible. But be mindful because an important what not to do after giving birth is become isolated. Leave some wiggle room for friends and family to join you in this new adventure.
Let them bring you convoluted iced java drinks. Invite them over for McDonald’s—break out the fancy china and all! Meet them for weekend morning power walks. Gab and gossip while they help you fold never ending piles of laundry. They want to be there for you, so let them. The more boring and convenient the activity, the better. Yes, a daily routine is important but so are the people that will one day be part of your child’s world.
A little self-love goes a long way when you’re consumed with the responsibility of a newborn.
4. Do not give up on your sex drive
Someday, while checking a mundane chore off one of your many to-do lists, you’re going to realize just how long it’s been since you and your partner have gotten busy. Chances are you’ll promise yourself (and your loving significant other) that you’ll circle back to your sex life soon—just not right now. This is perfectly normal. Feeling like your sex drive is on hiatus, is more common than you think.
Slowly ease your way back into a physical relationship with affectionate little moments, like morning kisses, holding hands while taking the baby out for a walk, cuddling up for some tv catch-up, or going in for a hug just because. These small moments help keep your emotional bonds strong and nudge your sexual ones back to the surface (eventually)! In conclusion, what not to do after giving birth: give up on your sex drive.
5. Do not be embarrassed of yourself
Remember what I said about laughing at yourself? Well my last piece of what not to do after giving birth advice is: be embarrassed of yourself. It’s going to be important when you notice patches of hair falling out of your once glorious mane, when you finally understand that you’ve been taking your pelvic floor for granted with every sneeze and cough, and when everything in your closet either fits your prebaby body or your pregnant body with no in between options.
All in all, you’ll be a walking mess, something which the security screen at Target’s self-checkout will not hesitate to make abundantly clear. But it’s all good because these hiccups are not forever and although you may not physically recognize the person you have become, you are evolving into a whole new you. It takes time—and a lot of Kegels—but the journey will have been worth it.
While we wait for society as a whole to get better at supporting the emotional, physical, and financial demands of parenthood, we as parents must remember to give ourselves the breaks we so much deserve. Let clean laundry go unfolded one more day! Make breakfast food for dinner! Take an extra 20 minutes to deep condition your hair!
These may not seem like revolutionary acts but a little self-love goes a long way when you’re consumed with the responsibility of a newborn. Which reminds me of one of my most favorite things not to do after giving birth: be perfect.
Liz Rodriguez is an advertising and marketing copywriter living in Jersey City, New Jersey with her firefighter husband, toddler daughter and newborn son. They love lazy weekend mornings and vacation destinations that involve sand, surf, sun and room service.