A short while after rapper, Cardi B, gave birth to her daughter Kulture she took to Instagram to let her fans know that she would not be joining Bruno Mars on his tour like she had anticipated. She wrote:
And all I could think was…girl, same! Okay, no I didn’t have to cancel a tour when my daughter was born over two years ago but I underestimated motherhood too. In fact, I think we all do. And like many, I underestimated the time I’d need to get back on my feet. There’s no way to know what motherhood is really like or how you’ll feel postpartum than to go through the madness yourself. But time and time again, we are told that six weeks is enough time to return to normal activities, life, and work. When I was pregnant I was a business owner. But complications during my pregnancy knocked me off of my feet and I was forced to pull the brakes. I dreamed of my six-week-postpartum checkup when my doctor would give me the green light to get back to my life and to carry on as normal. Although my doctor did just that, I’m here to tell you six weeks is just not enough. Although most of us won’t be returning to a tour postpartum, I’m glad Cardi B spoke up about needing more time. Not only did she mention that she needed more time to physically heal but also mentally. We live in a world where we are terrified to admit that we need a break or an “extended” maternity leave or simply can’t afford it. Our worth is measured in our productivity and how much we can get done in a short amount of time. Our physical and mental health isn’t prioritized enough especially postpartum. And sadly people still have this assumption that those first few weeks or months postpartum are spent cuddling and sleeping with a calm newborn.
I wish I knew that it wasn’t a race. I wish I knew that I wasn’t alone in thinking that six weeks just wasn’t nearly enough. I can’t say that there is a universal amount of time a woman may need to physically or mentally recover postpartum but all I can say, is that trying to return to “normal” six weeks postpartum caused me so much physical and emotional pain. I simply was not okay to “get back on the horse”.
I kept trying to keep up and to carry on but I was losing my mind. The first six weeks were a blur—a constant state of feeling so tired I thought I could die but not being able to get more than an hour or two of sleep a night. Breastfeeding didn’t pan out like I had hoped and I exclusively pumped. I was also recovering from a C-section and had a lot of visitors to consider. I was not resting with my newborn or taking adorable photos. I was not updating social media. I was filled with anxiety, I was totally unprepared, and I was a hot mess. You see, the first six weeks are insane and that’s just the beginning. I thought things would get better with each day that passed but things were just getting started. Adjusting to motherhood isn’t something that happens over night and the pressure to have it all together and under control as quickly as possible was draining.
Those first few weeks were filled with last minute runs to the store because we ran out of diapers or didn’t have enough pumping supplies and bottles because we thought I’d be breastfeeding. It felt like we always needed something! Those first few weeks I winced every time I had to get up, in pain. Those first few weeks, I had no idea what day or time it was. I struggled to find time to eat and shower. And when my husband went back to work two weeks postpartum, things just got worse. For moms, it needs to be known that support is needed well beyond six weeks postpartum. We need help and we need time to care for ourselves.
Rushing to resume to regular life postpartum, I believe, greatly contributed to my postpartum depression, anxiety, and also issues with my physical health. If I could go back in time I would have prepared for beyond six weeks postpartum. I would have lowered my expectations and let go of the guilt I felt when asking for help. If I could do it all again, I would’ve let the house be a mess, I would’ve forgiven myself for not being able to cook, I would have screamed out for help.
Honestly, it’s different for everyone. But I don’t think six weeks is a reliable or realistic amount of time to figure out motherhood or to emotionally, physically, or mentally adjust or recover postpartum and we have to start speaking up about it more.
If you’re suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety please speak to your doctor or seek help immediately.