15 Tips for a Happy Post-Partum
by Kaitlyn Clare Elizabeth Mason
I am blessed to be the Mother of three children. Each one is such a blessing to our lives!
And each one has required me to grow and stretch and live in a new way. A new selfless way.
Motherhood definitely keeps me in continual prayer…
Because caring for a child – especially a newborn – requires sacrifice. It requires a continual outpouring of love, attention, and care that I am convinced is only possible with strength coming directly from God!
So I keep praying! (Just keep praying, just keep praying… What do we do? Pray, pray…)
I have struggled with post-partum anxiety three times now.
God has blessed me with three beautiful children and three golden opportunities to overcome post-partum darkness.
Every pregnancy is different, every woman is different, and every baby is different. Post-partum darkness shows up in different ways. Some women may struggle with depression, or anxiety, or panic attacks, or general confusion, or anger, or intense bouts of obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors, or some combination of these.
But each of these situations provides a unique opportunity to rely on Christ! St. Paul reminds us that we have strength enough for everything through Christ who gives us strength (Philipians 4:13).
Or as my Grandpa Smith used to say, “There’s nothin’ me and God can’t do together!”
You see, graces abound when we persevere! They’re ours for the taking!
I remember a day when I struggled to make a sandwich in the kitchen. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was NOT funny! I called my Dad, and he was quick to provide love, support, and prayer. I remember a day when I struggled to stop crying. I set up an appointment with our parish priest, and he was quick to provide love, support, and prayer. I remember a day when my thoughts got away from me, and I was so scared. I called my husband, and he was quick to provide love, support, and prayer.
I received the love, support, prayer, help, and guidance that I needed to persevere. My own prayers were helpful, sure!
But I had to make those phone calls. I had to pick up the phone and get the help I needed to achieve the peace that I was asking for in my prayers to Christ.
As Mothers, we’re pros at helping everyone in our family stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. (Or we try to be anyways…)
And I’m sure you know where I’m going with this… we need to help ourselves stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit, too!
I am currently 7 weeks post-partum, caring for a sweet newborn baby boy. Here are a few tips I recorded in my diary a few weeks ago that are helping me stay vigilant and pro-active about creating a happy post-partum this time around the block:
1. Open the blinds each morning. Let in as much natural light as possible.
2. Shower. Daily. The oxygen mask goes on you first!
3. Put on shoes at least once a day. Real shoes. Slippers and socks don’t count.
4. Get outside! Do this as much as possible, but get outside at least once a day. Even if it’s just to sit on your deck or walk to the mailbox! Picnics, time at the park, walks, backyard playtime with older kids – these are great goals.
5. Keep a Bible open on the kitchen counter. It’s amazing how much you can read when you just catch a verse or two each time you pass by.
6. Keep a good spiritual or devotional book on hand. (Right now I’m working on the Diary of St. Faustina… I may finish it sometime before my child’s second birthday… wish me luck!) Read it while nursing once you and your baby are established at this… it’s much more rewarding than nursing in front of a television late at night (ask me how I know).
7. Play a CD of Gregorian chant or keep it in your CD player for those moments when you need help relaxing. It’s much easier to stay calm when your toddler throws food on the floor or when you’re cleaning up after a potty training child if you’re listening to gorgeous, sacred music. (I’ll share my favorite CDs for this in a post soon).
8. Allow yourself to feel the emotions you feel – whatever they may be. Even if they don’t make sense. Even if you’re literally crying about nothing. (It’s okay to laugh by the way if you’re actually crying about nothing. Ask me how I know!) Don’t always search for the reason you’re upset… sometimes there won’t be a reason. Give yourself permission to feel however you feel. Then give all of your emotions to God. Ask Him to fill you with His grace and peace.
9. It can be humbling to realize you need help and to ask for help from loved ones, friends, priests, and medical professionals as needed. Do it anyways.
10. Listen and be vigilant. Listen to others. Listen to God. Listen for His will constantly – in everything. He will never lead you in confusion, and He will never steer you wrong. Remember that despair is NEVER from God.
11. Sprinkle your day with prayer. Talk to God feely throughout your day. Ask Him for help. The rosary may seem daunting, so as a priest suggested to me once, say a decade here and there when you can. Say a quick Divine Mercy Chaplet when you can – say it especially when you’re struggling. This is a great way to connect your suffering to Christ’s when the kids are screaming!
12. Feed your soul & stay close to the sacraments. Attend Mass and Adoration whenever you can. Adoration is the absolute best for calming fears. To paraphrase a priest I know: “You are not shirking your Mothering responsibilities by attending Mass and making time for the One who made you.” And if you truly can’t get to Church, invite Jesus into your heart in the form of spiritual Communion – pray that you can be a tabernacle for His body, blood, soul, and divinity throughout your week. Go to Confession when you can. Make time for it. Take advantage of it.
13. Turn on fun music and dance! (Follow this link here for some fun dance music!)
14. Accept that you can’t be Supermom. Supermom doesn’t exist. But you can be a super Mom by realizing that you can do all things through and with Christ who gives you strength!
15. Make time for you!
If any of this makes it sound like I’ve got this all figured out – I don’t. But I’m learning. And I’m stubborn. So there’s no way I am going to let post-partum darkness steal my peace!
You don’t have to be unhappy either. Here’s to a happy post-partum!
P.S. God loves you and He is merciful! Pass it on…
Copyright 2016 Kaitlyn Mason