Maintaining Your Identity in Motherhood: Part 2
It’s 6am on Day 27 of your maternity leave. You’re up, feeding your baby, beginning another day just you and your baby. Your partner has left for work and you think about the days when you used to get ready together. Before your sweet baby arrived, you worked downtown wearing your OOTD that shouted “professional woman”. After work, you might grab dinner or Happy Hour with some of your work friends. You would socialize. You had conversations. Some were serious, some funny, but you had things, other than your baby and leaking breasts and childbirth, to talk about.
Where are these friends? Are they visiting and keeping you up to speed on everything you’re missing at the office? And when they do visit, are you regaling them with stories of your 40-hour labor, the number of stitches you received and Junior’s latest poop explosion?
Where’s the balance? You love staying home with your baby, but recognize that you’re feeling like you’ve lost some of the old “you”. You’ve mastered the art of maintaining your personal care (read about that HERE), but you’re struggling to think of anything to talk about besides pregnancy, birth and your new baby.
A 2013 article regarding social support during the postpartum period published by PubMed.gov (click here to read full article) stated:
“Research has indicated that social support is a major buffer of postpartum depression….. The results of this study suggest that identifying support needs and expectations of new mothers is important for mothers' recovery after childbirth. Future postpartum depression prevention efforts should integrate a strong focus on social support.”
As you work at maintaining your identity after childbirth, it is important to consider your personal need for social support or socialization. If you were a social person before baby arrived, it’s likely you’re feeling a little “stuck” and isolated afterward. How do you integrate social connections into your new life with a baby? Here are a few simple ways to rebuild your social networking and support game:
1. Meet your co-workers for lunch
Going to lunch means getting dressed and leaving the house…..both you and the baby. Although this may sound exhausting, by getting out and touching bases with your professional friends, you may find yourself invigorated instead. This is a win-win situation. Your co-workers will have a chance to meet your new baby (and possibly hold them while you eat your lunch sans babe in arms) AND you will have a chance to talk shop instead of all baby all the time. These are people you have spent a lot of time with during work hours. Meeting up with them may also remind you that staying home with your baby is kind of nice and a lot less pressure than being at work every day.
2. Join a postpartum fitness group
If you were someone who enjoyed your physical fitness routine before childbirth, then finding a postpartum fitness group, for example, BirthFit, can connect you with like-minded moms. Some groups, like Fit4Mom, incorporate your baby (and stroller) into the workout. Again, this is a win-win situation. You not only get a chance to exercise in a way that is geared for the postpartum body, but you meet other moms. These are usually moms who share the joy of talking all about babies. This could lead to other social opportunities where you meet these newfound mom friends for a long stroller walk and hash out all your questions, concerns and frustrations.
3. Join a Library based book club or reading group
It is a likely assumption that, before starting your professional career, you read A LOT of books! Joining a book club at your local library, especially ones that will be cool with your baby coming along, may be just the thing you have been craving to stimulate your intellect. It is another way to meet like-minded women (aka women who like to read and talk). A book club is another opportunity to talk about something other than your baby. To have an intellectual, meaningful discussion about something you all have in common: the book of the month. On the other end of the spectrum, bringing your baby to the library to enjoy story time can be a healthy way to meet some new mom friends as well. I hear there are even coffee shops in some libraries to continue your friendly visit afterwards.
These are just 3 simple ideas for socializing after your baby is born. Social support and interaction have been proven to be key factors in maintaining a healthy frame of mind and alleviating social isolation.
These ideas are merely reminders that there are so many options and opportunities around your city to get out, breathe some fresh air, open your mind and talk with other like-minded people.
You’re not alone. Give these a try.
~Sheryl Cooksley, Owner -Family Tree Doula Services