Finding your voice and speaking up for your needs during postpartum can feel challenging, especially when it all feels so new and you’re just so tired.
The period of life after birth is challenging – the kind of hard you hear people talk about but can’t truly understand until you’re in it.
And yet, there are – thankfully – those fleeting moments when you’re reminded it will all be okay: You catch one of those gassy smiles, the baby sleeps for five more minutes so you can pee, or you take your first shower at home after birth.
How to advocate for yourself after birth
Speaking up for your needs – to your partner, health care team, and family – doesn’t always come naturally. For some, it feels downright impossible.
The below five steps will help you feel more grounded in believing that you’re worthy of speaking up and will guide you on the path to self-advocacy.
Read next: Ask an OB-Gyn: How to Self-Advocate in Your Doctor’s Office
1. Become present to what is
Pause. Take a few breaths, close your eyes, and feel your belly rise and fall.
The house is messy, the dishes need to get done, and the baby won’t sleep. You’re convinced you’re a “bad mom” who isn’t doing enough.
The facts: You’re a badass who just grew and birthed a human, a physical feat that is greater than running a marathon. You’re taking care of that tiny human and yourself, and maybe some other humans of various sizes in your household, too.
You’re doing the best you can. Say it out loud. Do you feel that truth? How amazing you are, despite the challenging moments right now? Soak it in and believe it.
2. Take up more space
With your next few breaths, begin to take up more space. Not just physically in the room but also mentally and emotionally.
We were taught to shrink somewhere along the way, that our needs or feelings don’t compare to others. Now that we are present to what’s true, we can feel more power, more intention in our breath.
What you’ve accomplished up to this point in your life is incredible, and all of your dreams that you have are real, and you’re worthy of them. Feel that with each inhalation and let go of whatever isn’t serving you with each exhalation.
3. Work to trust your gut
Now, lean into your body – this powerful body of yours – and trust your gut.
You were made for this baby. Anything and everything that baby needs right now, you’re able to give in some shape or form.
But (there’s always a but), this only works if you take care of yourself first and work on trusting your thoughts, feelings, and instincts; it’s that simple.
What you think you need, you do. What you believe feels off probably is. Your motherly intuition will only become stronger the more you try to use it.
4. Learn to set boundaries
As you grow into your believing in yourself, know that it’s essential to set boundaries. What you say No to now isn’t suitable for you at this moment.
Someone wants to see you and only hold the baby? Nope.
You’ve been invited to a party and feel obligated to attend? That’s a nope.
Here’s a reminder: You’re allowed to take up space; you’re allowed to conserve your energy because of yourself and that tiny baby.
You’re trusting your intuition because you’re present to what is and using your voice to speak up – and set boundaries – about something that doesn’t feel right.
Listen in: How to Actually Set Better Boundaries After Birth
5. Ask for what you need
The earlier you ask for what you need, the easier it is to make it happen. The more you do ask, the easier the muscle becomes to flex.
Here’s a step-by-step method to help you ask for what you need:
- Observe what’s happening in a situation
- Notice and take note of just the facts
- Honestly and completely confess your feelings and thoughts
- Make your request
Use this four-step guide to speak up and advocate for yourself in just about any situation. Your voice is worthy of being heard.
Final thoughts on self-advocacy in postpartum
Not going to lie; the five tips shared above may feel like a lot when you first put them in practice. But as well-intentioned as the advice of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps,’ it’s not that simple to take care of yourself post-birth. Self-advocacy will help.
In time, I promise, tips one through three will become second nature as you grow in your confidence as a mother.
And not only as a mother but as a human raising two incredible beings: herself and her baby.