5 Lies We Tell Ourselves Postpartum

Family at Maternity clinic
Photo © Kei Uesugi/Getty Images

Once you have had the baby, there are many platitudes that you will hear from well meaning friends and family. Sure, they all sound like great things, but are they really true?

  1. The baby will sleep through the night.

    One of the hardest things about being a parent is the sleep deprivation. We prepare for it by steeling ourselves against the thought. The sleepless nights of the end of pregnancy that we manage with (mostly) grace have lured us into a false sense of security for what it will really be like once the baby is here. After all, it’s one thing to be awake in your bed and unable to sleep, it’s another to be up and functioning while caring for a newborn. (And no, two half awake people up in the middle of the night still don’t quite equal one awake person.)  The part of this platitude that is wrong is that most people assume the definition of sleeping through the night is a much longer period of time than it really is in medicine. Sleeping through the night is about 4-5 hours at a time. While it comes sooner than you feel like, it’s often not before most parents have nearly lost their minds.

  1. People are coming to help you after the baby is born.

    People have great intentions, but the truth be told, most people don’t know how to be a proper postpartum visitor. There are a lot of rules that they need to follow in order to be considered helpful. Most people simply want to come and visit, hold the baby, and be entertained. Some even expect you to look presentable, like wear clothes, and serve snacks. That’s just totally crazy in my book.

  2. It gets…

    Better or worse. It’s something we feel the need to expound on for every family. It’s hard to imagine it getting worse when you haven’t slept more than two hours at a time for six weeks. And who gets to define worse? Status quo might be the worst case scenario. It gets better? What does that mean? Is Mary Poppins coming to live with me? (There are these people called postpartum doulas who are a lot like Mary Poppins.) So just strike this one from your vocabulary.

  1. You’ll get your body back.

    You have a body. You get to keep it. That’s where the truth ends. Even if you lose all of the baby weight, your body will never be the same. Your feet may have spread, your hips may have spread, heck, your ribs might have expanded – your body is different as a mom. What you can get back is a sense of normal, a feeling of being strong, and beautiful. You may have some things that look differently than before, you may have a few stretch marks. It’s all good. It’s your body that nourished your baby to perfection – enjoy it and treat it well.

  1. You can nap when the baby naps.

    Sure, you could nap when the baby naps, and we’ll keep telling you that, but the truth is – you won’t nap. You’ll tell yourself you will take a nap… just after you put in one load of laundry. Oh, and send that one thank you note… and pull something out of the freezer for dinner. Time to put the clothes in the dryer before you can lay down and then as soon as you hit your head to the pillow, a baby cries like an unwelcome alarm clock. You missed your nap time, it’s time to feed the baby.

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