Right around this time is when I finally started to feel like I was getting the hang of being a new mom. My baby and I were in sync, I’d developed some systems and schedules that worked for my family, and I was better at handling unexpected challenges. (And those still kept coming at me!) It felt great to have made it past the toughest part of the learning curve.
But just because that was my experience, doesn’t mean it will be yours! Every mom finds her groove at a different time, and under her own circumstances. Studies have shown it takes most parents 6-9 months to feel like they’ve developed a rhythm within their caretaking duties. When I polled a few hundred moms myself, I found out there was an even broader range: they said anywhere from 6 months to 18 months was when they hit their sweet spot.
No matter where you’re at, this is a time of firsts and big changes. Whether you’re feeling pressure to get back to your “old” self or feeling antsy for your new rhythm and body to settle in, here’s what you can do as you enter month 8 postpartum:
Month 8 of your 6th trimester: A.K.A. The Next Stage
This month may find you feeling restless or unsettled, even if you’re still working to master some mothering basics. Your mind and body have started to make some serious headway toward recovery, and you may be eager to make more progress. Meanwhile, your baby is growing by leaps and bounds! All this change can be both invigorating and overwhelming.
It’s natural to feel a little impatient around this time. But instead of focusing on bouncing back or judging yourself for where you are, name your negative emotions or beliefs and try reframing them, like this:
“I don’t like that my baby’s sleep schedule is unpredictable leaving me no time to work out, rest, eat well, or connect with my partner. This is stretching me beyond what I’m comfortable with, but I know that it won’t last for much longer. I remember feeling like I’d be pregnant forever, I then gave birth. The stretching will stop. In the meantime, I may need to prioritize rest and self-care these next few days until perspective returns.”
Doing this will help you feel more balanced, and might help you refocus your energies where they’re needed most.
Remember that dark line running down your belly? The linea nigra? Of course you do. Around this time it disappears. And here you thought it was going to be with you forever!
As your body begins to feel like it’s yours again, you may become frustrated with those extra pregnancy pounds that are clinging to your belly, waist, and thighs. Again, that’s a natural, normal feeling, but try not to put a ton of extra pressure on yourself. Postpartum weight loss is different for every mom. If you’re going to lose weight, you need to find ways to do it without limiting those key nutrients needed to replenish your body from pregnancy and breastfeeding. The safest way is to focus on eating for nutrition and enjoyment. Sounds fun, ya?
Instead of going for a big bowl of pasta, add pasta to a salad with healthy proteins and fats, like chicken or avocado. Think of food as fuel, and find ways to satisfy your cravings in the most nutritious ways possible.
Your Home and Work
How’s work going? Now is a great time to sit down and assess your goals, level of happiness, and professional needs. Around month 8 postpartum, most women feel they have enough data to make a decision on whether they want to stay at their job or make a change.
If you have conflicting feelings around staying at home or pushing forward in your career, you’re not alone. Here’s some guidance on how to decide what’s right for you:
- This is a question my therapist asked me that helped me gain clarity. She said, “Which regret will be easier to live with? Either choice will come with an element of regret, you can’t get around that, but there’s probably one decision that’s easier to tolerate than the other.”
- If you know you want to work, but don’t find your current role meaningful enough to miss moments with your baby, sit down with your manager and discuss new opportunities or work arrangements that provide value to you and your team.
- If you do decide to stay home but want to keep your skills sharp, look for opportunities to stay current in your profession. Attend conferences, volunteer, join networking groups, or freelance a few hours a month.
At the end of the day, it’s not all or nothing. You can work part-time, work from home, find creative ways to extend leave, or find ways to integrate your baby into your work day. And even if you leave your job, that doesn’t mean you have to quit working forever! On the same note, if you keep working and decide six months from now that you need more time with your baby, you can make the call then. Neither decision is final.
Your baby might be cruising around the house at top speed and gearing up for those first steps. This is incredibly exciting, but if you’re working full time may also be a source of anxiety. As your baby grows stronger and more interactive with the world, you might find yourself feeling guilty for missing some of your baby’s firsts: first step, first word, first trip to the zoo … If you struggle with these feeling, Serena William’s account of missing her daughter’s first steps, and the thousands of women who jumped in to reassure her, will renew your sense of belief that all is OK.
What to do:
If you’re pregnant:
- Experiment with meal-planning and prepping NOW, so you have tried-and-true strategies for postpartum life.
- Practice these healthy eating habits during pregnancy:
- Instead of eating while on the couch or at your desk, enjoy your meals at the table or outside.
- Instead of scrolling through instagram or watching TV, have a device-free meal
- Instead of eating past the point of fullness, check in with your hunger cues
- Instead of following a strict diet, enjoy all the foods (in moderation) and make adjustments as needed
If you’re postpartum:
- As you’re adjusting to your new life and settling into your routine, make time to check in with yourself. Your life may feel like a whirlwind, and stepping back to take stock is a great way to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Every week or so, ask yourself:
- How am I feeling?
- What do I need?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- Whose help do I need?
- What can I celebrate?
- What can I let go of?
The biggest hurdle in month 8?
Wanting to emotionally and physically “bounce back” before your body, baby, and family are ready. I promise this won’t last forever, hang tight! You’ll get there.
Looking for support during your 4th or 5th trimesters? We’ve got you covered!
- How to Survive the 4th Trimester Without Losing Your Mind: Month 1, Month 2, Month 3
- The Best Way to Navigate Your 5th Trimester: Month 4, Month 5, Month 6
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