Becoming a mother is huge. It’s life-changing. Nothing will ever be the same again.
It doesn’t matter whether this is your first or fourth baby, there will be an adjustment period after the birth.
Your newborn baby is completely dependent on you and that will keep you pretty busy, not to mention tired.
That’s why we have maternity leave. Maternity leave allows you to completely focus on yourself and your baby, making the transition to parenthood that little bit easier.
How long you get will depend on where you live (the US has a pretty stingy maternity allowance of just a few weeks).
While you’re on maternity leave, however, you will still have plenty of other non-baby related things to do. In fact, many women find themselves taking on the bulk of the domestic chores whilst on maternity leave. You can easily fritter away your maternity leave on domesticity.
7 Reasons You Should Take Maternity Leave From Life
Maternity leave isn’t designed to give women more time to take care of the home, it’s supposed to allow them to take care of the new baby. Domestic chores can still remain a shared responsibility.
In fact, you should take a maternity life from real life for a while, too. Scale back how much you do and instead invest the time in enjoying motherhood. Here’s why:
#1: It Takes Time To Recover Physically
Maternity leave isn’t just to give you time with your new baby, it’s also to give you chance to rest so your body can heal after the birth.
Pregnancy and birth are natural, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy on the body. It takes time for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy shape.
You might feel sore for the weeks following the birth, and might need time to allow stitches or piles to heal. If you had a c-section, the recovery can take even longer.
You’ll need to take it easy and get plenty of rest, so don’t tire yourself out tidying the house or playing hostess. Put yourself and your baby first.
Read more about the early days with BellyBelly’s The First Week After The Birth – What To Expect.
#2: These Early Days Will Soon Be Over
When you’re in the midst of those newborn days, they feel like they will last forever. You wonder whether you’ll ever sleep again, you cry because you can’t imagine your nipples ever not hurting and you long for just a few minutes to yourself.
But, hard as it might be to see now, these days will be over very soon. In just a few short months, your baby will be mobile and you’ll have a whole new set of problems to deal with (you’d be surprised to find out just how many choking hazards are hiding under your sofa).
These early days of being trapped under a sleeping baby, breathing in the intoxicating scent of his head, don’t last long so make the most of them. Don’t waste these moments on everyday chores.
#3: Things Have Changed
You’re a mama now. Holy crap, you’re somebody’s mother. That’s going to take some getting used to.
At times, the responsibility can feel huge, crushing down on you whilst you desperately Google to find out what you should do and how you should parent. It’s scary and overwhelming.
There’s no training, nothing can prepare you for this. You’re just thrown in at the deep end and expected to swim. Focus on keeping your head up, don’t waste energy on anything else right now, just keep yourself and your baby floating.
#4: It’s Time To Bond
You carried him for nine long (so long, right?) months, but you didn’t meet him until the midwife placed him in your arms. Already it feels like he’s always been there, like you’ve known him your whole life.
You look into his eyes and suddenly the whole world makes sense. This is what you were born to do. And he looks back at you, getting to know you. Now is the time to bond with your baby.
Whether you were floored by a sudden outpouring of love in the birth room or your bond is taking a little longer to come to fruition. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you give yourself a break from real life so you strengthen that bond. You both deserve that. Ignore all of the other stuff for now.
#5: Your Baby Doesn’t Care
Babies care about being fed, warm and safe. They want to be close to you as much as possible. They want to hear your heartbeat and feel the warmth of your skin.
They don’t care if the laundry is done. They don’t care if there is a pile of dirty plates by the sink. They don’t care if there’s dust on the mantelpiece. They don’t care if your car needs vacuuming. They don’t care if you have greasy hair.
They don’t care about any of that stuff. They’d much rather be spending time with you amidst the mess than lose you to domestic chores.
#6: Nobody Else Cares Either
When people come to visit the baby, they go away thinking how cute your baby is and how happy you seem. They don’t comment on the unwashed pans, the unironed babygros or the stash of unopened post by the front door.
They care that you’re happy, that your baby is loved and that you’re taking of yourself. Not your house, yourself. Nobody expects you to be on top of everything right now, they just want to see you in your new role as a mama.
#7: There Is Help Available
People can’t bond with your baby for you, they can’t breastfeed for you and they certainly can’t catch up on sleep for you.
But they can fill the dishwasher, they can fold clean laundry and they can vacuum the stairs. And any guest worth their salt will do at least one of these tasks when they visit.
If you don’t have friends and family nearby who are able to help, you may be able to get help from the community. Some communities organise cooked meals for new mamas or help with household chores. Speak to your health visitor to see if there is anything available in your local area.
Or consider hiring a postnatal doula. These are women who are trained and experienced in supporting new mothers in the transition to life with a new baby. Find out more about these angels in disguise in BellyBelly’s Postnatal Doulas – 8 Reasons Why You Should Hire One.
Being a mama is a fulltime job. It’s exhausting. You are needed almost constantly. When you do manage to snatch five minutes for yourself, don’t waste it cleaning. Instead do something for you. Have a quick bath, read a book, paint your nails or just drink a hot drink in peace.
Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty jug. Make sure you feel happy and loved and then you’ll best be able to help your baby feel the same way. You need to fit your own oxygen mask before you can help your baby.
Take a maternity leave from life. Ask your partner to do more to help out around the house so that you can take time to recover from the birth. Slowly ease yourself back into your responsibilities, but only when you feel ready to do so.
Recommended Reading: Check out BellyBelly’s New Mama Code. Will you take the pledge to help other mamas out?