TLDR: When you have a newborn baby, it’s easy to get so consumed by your life as a new mom that you forget to prioritize things that are important to you. Life coach Lauren Zander has tips for avoiding the 10 biggest pitfalls new moms face, so you don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
When I became a new mom, my life was all over the place.
Every day felt like a training day.
From getting a handle on breastfeeding to successfully changing diapers to learning how to put and keep my newborn baby asleep, everything was an uphill battle. And of course, as any mom reading this can attest, the moment I did get the hang of any of these, my daughter’s habits would immediately change and I’d be right back to the drawing board.
With all of this “newness” going on, my focus and energy solely flooded towards my daughter. I had little if any, time to look outside of my new motherhood box and into the other areas of my life. This meant a lot of things went to the back burner, including my physical health, my relationship with my husband, my nutrition, and my time.
Looking back, I had numerous blind spots after having my daughter, and by not seeing them, I made my postpartum journey more difficult than it had to be.
Realizing this, I reached out to life coach Lauren Zander, the co-founder of Handel Group and author of Maybe It’s You1 , to talk about the top 10 pitfalls that new mothers run into after having a baby—and what steps we can take to avoid them.
After coaching thousands of clients over the years, including Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams, I couldn’t think of anyone better equipped to identify where we get stuck in postpartum, and how we can get ourselves unstuck. Not to mention the fact that she’s also a mother, with three children under the age of 15. I hope Lauren’s thoughts and tips below inspire you to live your best motherhood journey.
Here are Lauren’s top 10 pitfalls women run into as new moms—and how to avoid them:
I’m not sure any of these are original, but, lord knows, they can use repeating and repeating to help us remember. No matter what, getting conscious of these pitfalls is a huge step in the right direction.
Not Staying Active
With your doctor’s consent, continue some sort of exercise. Get out on a walk and you will feel better.
Letting Your Emotions Run the Show
Although your hormones are all over the place in pregnancy and postpartum, it’s important to remember that you can still be your best self to both you and to the people in your life. Offer yourself some compassion and be honest with your loved ones. If you’re feeling emotional, give them a heads up so they can support you the way you need.
Losing Patience With Loved Ones
When you give birth, your partner will no longer be in the front and center position of your life. No matter how much you love your mate, what you used to find cute enough or tolerable (i.e., not picking up his/her laundry) will not be even remotely adorable anymore. Still—you need to find your heart and your patience.
Stepping Down From Leadership
Recognize that, more than likely, since giving birth you’ve stopped being the CEO of the relationship. Instead of holding yourself responsible for keeping the love, heat, and romance alive between the two of you, you’ve stepped down. Become aware of this when you can and see if you can get a new plan in place with the support of your other half.
Understand that this phase in life requires that you grow. You need to expand yourself as you have a baby (figuratively!) and not contract. Motherhood requires growth, new leadership abilities, and living a life by design versus just trying to survive and stay in control. If you stay contracted, you’ll lose a level when a baby comes in versus growing and expanding from it. Get conscious of it and design it.
Not Having Fun
We use having a baby as a legit doctor’s note excusing us from taking care of ourselves. The first things thrown out with the baby’s bath water are our bodies, our sex lives, romance, fun, and adventure. So, although it makes perfect instinctual sense to put the baby first, we also use the baby to avoid looking at ourselves. Don’t do this. Take care of yourself.
Putting Your Dreams on Hold
On that note: don’t use your baby as an excuse to not pursue your dreams. Baby or not, we sneaky humans are always willing to throw out what scares us. And what could be more scary than growing a child, growing up as an adult, AND chasing our dreams?
As we have learned, pregnancy and postpartum aren’t times to eat for two. There are, however, times to eat healthily as someone who is nursing or carrying a child. So if you find yourself feeling nauseous and craving carbohydrates and sugar, take a moment to realize that these foods aren’t going to make you feel better. Find something nutritious that will support your energy. Do your best to stay committed to having a healthy pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Not Reading and Learning
Not Renegotiating the Marriage Contract
This is perhaps the most important pitfall to keep an eye out for. Now that you have a baby, it’s time to have another look at your contract with your partner. See who is in charge now of each department in your marriage, from sex to romance to fun to home to health to community, etc. If you don’t know who should be in charge of what, here’s how to divvy it up: figure out which person is better at the department, or if no one is blatantly better, then the person who complains about a particular department the most is in charge of it.
Not Having Sex
OK, I know I said 10 pitfalls, but this one is so important, that I’m giving it its category. Get some new promises in place around sex. Better yet, create some funny, irksome, self-imposed consequences to keep you keeping your sex promises. For example, if you don’t have sex (once your doctor has okayed it), at least X times per week (yes I said per week, NOT per month!), you lose your Netflix, your wine, etc. Fight the right fight. Not only to be the best parent ever but to be the best partner who is fighting for their dreams. All of them!
So, in a nutshell, what’s the solution to the above pitfalls? Live by design, not default. Design who you are as a mom, as a partner, and in your relationship with yourself. In every area of your life, from your health to your sex life to your career to your fun and adventure to your community, I swear you have a dream, and do not let having a baby act as a doctor’s note allowing you to wave the white flag on what matters most to you. Sure, you have to take care of yourself and your baby, but not at the expense of your dreams.
Divvy up the departments in your partnership/marriage. Renegotiate the contract. Yes, your relationship is a business and should be treated as such, or the growing “company” won’t thrive.