Once you’ve birthed a baby, it takes time to get some semblance of your “before baby” body back, and things may never be exactly the same again. (Tiger-striped mamas, unite!) The same goes for you as a person. During the postpartum period, your thoughts, feelings and perspective changes, and it can take time for you to get back in touch with your pre-baby self. To encourage the process along, here are a few things you can do to reconnect with the old you while embracing your new reality of mamahood.

photo: thedanw via Pixabay

1. Sleep.
We’re making this #1 on our list because we think it should be #1 on your list, too, Snagging some extra Z’s restores and refreshes the mind, body and soul in a way that nothing else can. While baby naps, throw laundry to the wind, leave the sink full of dishes, and give yourself permission to sleep while baby sleeps. (It’s the oldest trick in the new-baby book for good reason.) You may just wake up feeling as good as “old” again.

2. Laugh.
When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? If it was while baby was still in residence in that belly, it’s time to reconnect with your sense of humor. Call up your funniest friend, turn on a TV show that makes you laugh so hard you could pee your pants (much easier now post-birth!), or, if you’re ready to make a night of it, hit up a local improv comedy show and get ready to giggle the night away. 

3. Join a moms group.
Being a new mom is bewildering, and your post-partum self could use some solidarity. At least for now, your new reality includes diaper changes and infant sleep struggles, so finding friends who can relate with the challenges, hopes, fears, joys and downright weird topics of this season of your life will give you a renewed sense of belonging. 

photo: StockSnap via Pixabay

4. Hang with your baby-free friends.
This may seem like direct opposition to the previous point, but hear us out. Staying connected with friends who aren’t in the baby stage can help keep you connected to the you that once was. Kid-less friends are more likely to do things you did pre-baby, like going to concerts, baseball games, museums, etc. While these excursions may not be doable on the reg, attending an occasional cocktail party (or even just hearing a friend tell you about one) may have you feeling more in tune with yourself.

5. Drink coffee.
We’re convinced that coffee solves pretty much everything. (After all, during these sleepless newborn days, your yawns are really just silent screams for coffee.) But even if the caffeinated nectar of the gods isn’t your thing, what matters is the ritual of setting aside the responsibilities swirling around you, even if only for a moment, to slow down and appreciate what’s in front of you—especially if what’s in front of you is the home decor aisle at Target and the drink in your hand is from the in-store Starbucks.

6. Clear the baby clutter.
Look around the room right now. Do you see baby blankets and toys here, diapers and wipes there? If baby stuff has found its way onto most surfaces of your home, it’s time to find a central spot to stash the infant items. Keeping baby’s things in a collected spot rather than strewn about may be the mental signal you need to help you feel a little more like you. While little one is an incredible part of your life, he or she needn’t take over every area of it. 

7. Sweat it out.
Squeezing in a sweat sesh a few days a week will get your endorphins surging through your system, whether it’s a casual walk in the fresh air with baby strapped into the stroller or a jog on the treadmill at your local gym that offers childcare.

photo: justynafaliszek via Pixabay

8. Shop!
We’re not suggesting you go on a Carrie Bradshaw-style shopping spree, but adding a few staples to your wardrobe that fit your new shape will help you transition from pregnancy through the postpartum period. Because trying to wiggle your post-baby self into pre-baby pants…well, ain’t no one got time for that.

9. Pursue intimacy with your partner.
While your healthcare provider likely laid down the hammer on intercourse for six weeks post-partum, make an effort to reconnect without sex. Cuddle on the couch, smooch like teenagers, or give each other a massage. And while we are all about being real, a swipe of lip gloss and some dry shampoo can go a long way toward giving you the confidence you need to get romantic.

10. Embrace the new normal…and how amazing you are.
Before you try out every point on this list trying to conjure up your pre-baby self, remember that just feeling like the “old you” isn’t the goal. What’s more important—and realistic—is realizing that this new (and, dare we say, improved!) version of you deserves to be celebrated. The you who is tinged with spit-up and hasn’t showered in recent history gave life to another human being. And, let’s be real, that’s way more amazing than anything your old self ever did.  

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—Suzanna Palmer

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