Creating a Postpartum “No Judgment Zone”
The first days and weeks of postpartum can be a rollercoaster. From the moment you give birth, your body begins to gradually transition back to its pre-pregnancy version of itself, albeit with some significant changes like lactating breasts and perhaps a stretch mark or two.
From a hormonal perspective, you’re all over the place. This can impact your emotional state, leaving you feeling raw and vulnerable – the sleep deprivation you’re experiencing only heightens this state of being.
And amidst all this physiological and emotional upheaval there you are, trying to figure out how to care for a brand-new human.
Figuring Out Your New Day-To-Day?
If you read books or took classes about the care and feeding of a newborn while you were pregnant, you might be trying to establish a “routine” for yourself and your newborn. It’s understandable – you want to prioritize getting sleep for yourself and your partner – but any sort of set routine is usually impossible in the first few weeks.
Although in the early days your baby is sleeping a lot, it may feel as though it’s never at a time that benefits you. When they’re not sleeping, they’re eating and it feels like you never get a break. No wonder you feel wrung out at the end of the day.
As your baby grows and you begin to get the hang of things, it’s common for friends, family and peers to share tips and tricks about things that worked for them, e.g., tips for getting to baby to sleep, moving to solid foods, setting a routine, co-sleeping, child-proofing the house – the list is endless. Some of this advice might be helpful and welcome. But inevitably there will be someone who has a strongly negative opinion about something that you’re doing.
Guess What? That’s OK.
The decisions you make behind closed doors for you and your family are no one’s business but yours. Many of us waste mental energy worrying about what other people think, but ultimately, it’s not worth it. Whether you decide to sleep train or not, co-sleep or not, stay on a routine or not, it’s up to you to decide what is best for you and your family.
Rather than second guess whether or not you’re doing the right thing, take a step back and relax. We are often our own toughest critics so we need to remind ourselves that no one is keeping score as to whether we’re using cloth or disposable diapers, swaddling or not, or when we decide to wean our baby from a pacifier. Our self-judgment can be the most intense of all, so whenever you find yourself becoming a critic, remember to stop and move into your “no judgment zone”.
How to Utilize the “No Judgment Zone”
Your no judgment zone is an imaginary place you can create in your mind that takes the pressure off of everything going on around you. Sometimes, without even trying to, family members dispensing advice can come across as questioning or critical of our decisions.
When we internalize this critique, whether or not it was deliberate, our self-confidence erodes and, not far behind it, feelings of anxiety and depression can arise. Birthing people are already vulnerable to mood disorders in the postpartum period*, so if you find yourself feeling sensitive to someone’s opinion or comparing yourself to others, take a deep breath and step into your no judgment zone.
*If you’re concerned you might be suffering from a PMAD (perinatal mood and anxiety disorder), please know that it is treatable and curable. Help is available. Please visit https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/ for more information.