tell me more

I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!

Hey There!

How I Use the Profit First Method in My Business

How to Choose the Right Online Course Software

Kartra vs Kajabi

5 Things I Did to Finally Go Full-time in My Business


My First 3 Months Postpartum: The Highs, The Lows, and What I Was NOT Prepared For

Today, I’m sharing my postpartum experience, four months after welcoming my baby, Hallie, last September (it was 4 months later at the time of recording!). The reason I wanted to share this, is to share insight into the joys and challenges of new motherhood, hoping it resonates with expecting or new moms. From things I thought would be difficult, but were surprisingly easy, to the things I did not expect to be so hard (and that I wish I had prepared for).

Join me for a heart-to-heart as we explore both the smooth and tough parts of this journey. I’ll also offer tips for navigating early postpartum days, reflecting on my quick labor and relatively smooth pregnancy. I also want to say this: despite concerns about recovery and changes, my experience has been largely positive.

So, let’s get right into it. I’m excited to share my postpartum experience with you today!

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

Before diving in, I want to normalize and mention that not every experience is the same! While I’ve already shared my birth story, this time around, I want to focus on life after welcoming our little one, Hallie.


Recovery After Giving Birth

Many people warned me about feeling pretty rough physically for a while after giving birth, and I heard all sorts of recovery stories. Now, keep in mind, if you’ve had a C-section, your postpartum experience might be totally different from mine. I kept hearing about how you’re going to feel like you’re falling apart for months and months and months after you give birth.

But, surprisingly, my experience after a natural birth without complications or pain meds was actually pretty positive. Right after my daughter was born, I was shocked to feel no pain at all, which was the opposite of what I expected. And that trend of feeling good continued in the days following delivery, which was a big relief. I felt like I had this surge of energy, like I could take on anything, thanks to adrenaline and hormones, I guess. Even during my postpartum checkup around day five, I was still feeling good, although the midwife warned that the energy might fade soon, which it did.

In those first few days, I felt amazing, with minimal pain or soreness. And even though I knew I’d just given birth, I didn’t feel all that debilitated. Surprisingly, I was actually eager to get up and go for walks, stay active, which I think really helped my overall well-being. It was kind of eye-opening how the postpartum recovery wasn’t as tough as I expected, especially compared to those late pregnancy discomforts and sleep struggles. And despite the sleep disruptions from having a newborn, I was just so relieved not to be uncomfortable from the pregnancy anymore.

My Postpartum Experience Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding turned out to be surprisingly manageable for me, despite my initial fears and worries. I was expecting it to be tough, especially after hearing about the challenges from friends and healthcare discussions. I was expecting that I was going to fail at it, which that probably sounds really weird, but it’s something that really intimidated me. In general, I have had so many friends tell me that it’s not worth it. It’s really painful. It takes up so much time. So I was just expecting it to be absolutely terrible and I had given myself the grace of if it’s not working okay, formula is totally fine. We even had a canister of formula read at home!

Fortunately, that is actually not what happened at all. So I was expecting for it to be terrible and hard and I was going to fail at it and I’ve actually really enjoyed it. Now I don’t want to minimize how much work breastfeeding is because it is so time consuming and now that I am four months into it, there’s a lot of feelings I’m starting to feel about it that are different than how I initially felt (because it IS exhausting), but those initial weeks really the first three months I was surprised by how much I enjoyed breastfeeding.

It became this really enjoyable thing to me to learn and then really be able to bond with our daughter. We did have some minor breastfeeding issues by the way, but I think because I was expecting it to be so terrible, I really set myself up for success.

Breastfeeding Challenges: Tongue and Lip Ties

Because I was kind of expecting to fail at it, I had already researched lactation consultants and made an appointment so that we went in two days after she was born. That was really helpful (and we went in several times when she was really little) so that I could have help figuring out latching and positions and pumping. I highly recommend doing a lactation consultation if you can, and specifically doing one with some sort of “outside the hospital” lactation consultant because for me that was really helpful and I’ve heard mixed perspectives from people about the lactation support they get in the hospital.

We did have some issues with a tongue tie though. Hallie had both a tongue tie and a lip tie, and there’s recently a New York Times article that came out about how some tongue ties are kind of a scam. I felt some weird mom guilt after that came out because it came out after she had her tongue tie corrected. But I think we made the right decision because we had multiple professionals, tell us that this was impacting her feeding and was going to impact her probably when she was older.

So we did have to go to a pediatric dentist, get her tongue tie revised and do the mouth exercises (which makes babies very unhappy – by the way!).

Thinking About Breastfeeding Now

I guess my big lesson here is just that breastfeeding might not be as terrible as you’re expecting and to definitely get some support if it’s something you are interested in. That was so helpful for me. I know a lot of people have the opposite experience where they think breastfeeding is going to be really magical and amazing, and then I think it’s one of those things you have to be very open about and recognize that it really is just so different for everyone based on your health, your life, and your baby.

There’s some babies who just never learn how to latch correctly, but it also might not be as hard and as terrible as you’re expecting. Thinking of what I wish I knew before, I also really did not have any idea about how much time breastfeeding takes, and that’s the thing I am starting to struggle with now that I’m four months down the road from having a baby. It takes up so much of your time. I’ve seen things before about how a year of breastfeeding is pretty much equivalent to having a full-time job. And now that I’ve been through it, I’m like, “oh, people are not kidding about that”.

It is literally like a part-time or full-time job because you are constantly feeding your baby or even if you give your baby a bottle, you have to pump and you have to be worried about your supply. It’s a lot.

Transitioning to Combo Feeding

While we’re talking about feeding by the way, I will also just share that we did exclusive breastfeeding for the first 16 days until her tongue tie had been revised to introduce the bottle. Once that happened, we went back to the lactation consultant, and then we introduced a bottle with breast milk.

Introducing the bottle after starting with pumping significantly eased our routine, especially as it allowed my husband to take over some late-night feedings, improving my sleep. Only sleeping two hours at most at a time was very challenging.

Combo feeding for us, meant including breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing with formula. A month in, we began supplementing with formula due to my anxiety over constant pumping and worrying if I’d have enough pumped milk for my husband overnight or if I was gone. Postpartum anxiety made me worry about unexpected scenarios, like accidents, affecting my ability to feed my daughter. Introducing formula provided peace of mind that she’d be well-fed regardless of circumstances.

Our little one took to both the bottle and formula with no issues, which was a relief for us. It not only reduced the stress I mentioned but also allows us to feed her comfortably while we’re out, eliminating the need for private nursing spaces.

I loved just “being happy” as a mom

While I know this isn’t the case for everyone; adapting to motherhood came naturally to me. I felt an instant connection and joy in being a mother. Instinctively, I found myself understanding her needs, whether she was tired or hungry, and responding appropriately. Before becoming a mother, I worried about handling various situations, but my instincts guided me well.

Understanding my baby’s needs, deciphering her cries, and establishing a routine came more naturally to me than I expected. Many mentioned postpartum tears of both sadness and joy, and I experienced the ladder strongly. I found myself overwhelmed with happiness for our new family of three, marveling at the baby I had anticipated for so long, now a real individual with her own personality, leading to many happy moments early on. 

Now, that I’ve shared some of the good things about my postpartum experience, I also want to share some of the harder things.


The Exhausting Reality of New Parenthood

This one takes the cake for the most challenging aspects of motherhood. Despite knowing newborns frequently wake at night, I underestimated the mental toll of constant disruptions. In the first month, particularly during the initial 16 days of exclusive breastfeeding, she rarely slept more than two hours at a stretch, often waking even more frequently for feedings. Cluster feeding was common for us in the beginning, often taking over the whole day.

Additionally, transitioning from feeding to sleeping wasn’t straightforward; it’s challenging to immediately relax and sleep after tending to a baby, even though I would try to sleep when she sleeps. Beyond the normal disruptions, I struggled with insomnia, not sleeping for four days post-birth. This was partly due to adrenaline and the transition home from the birth center, making it impossible to rest, even when others could watch her. I was constantly on edge, fueled by adrenaline and the fear of something happening to her.

The common advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” often frustrated me, as falling asleep wasn’t simple. My body and mind, buzzing with adrenaline and worry, refused to rest. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is more difficult than people realize and the effects of fragmented sleep became increasingly evident over 16 days. It significantly impacted not just me but also my husband, who struggled with the disrupted sleep patterns, affecting his well-being, even though he technically did get more sleep. We both struggled with the sleep!

Reflecting on this period, understanding that it was a temporary phase, and a season of life, helped us through it. In the first eight weeks, our daughter woke every two hours without a distinct bedtime routine, favoring contact napping. This meant she preferred sleeping in our arms, requiring constant attention and preventing any long stretches of sleep for us. 


Taking Shifts for Sleep

My husband and I, recognizing the need for rest, decided to take shifts. This was SO helpful. I would go to bed early, sometimes right after dinner, and my husband would take over baby care. While we were exclusive breastfeeding, he would bring her to me for feedings, then take her out to allow me some rest, as I found it difficult to sleep in the same room as her.

This shift system significantly improved our ability to manage sleep deprivation. This shift approach significantly improved my sleep. My husband’s shift, from 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM, involved him taking care of our daughter, including feedings, which allowed me uninterrupted rest. After 2:00 AM, I took over until 10:00 AM. This schedule ensured I was less frustrated and more rested for early morning care.

I strongly recommend shifts for new parents (if you can!), and ideally one can sleep undisturbed in a separate space, while the other manages baby care in the living room or guest room. The first eight weeks involved waking every two hours and contact napping. At eight weeks, her sleep improved, introducing stretches of four to five hours. By nine weeks, she began sleeping even longer.

Currently, she typically goes to bed around 7:00 PM, after the last feed and a story, falling asleep by 8:00 PM. She usually sleeps solidly until 3:00 AM, then, with her pacifier, easily returns to sleep until 7:00 AM. We have her crib next to our bed. One of us rotates every other night to sleep next to her, putting the pacifier back in. She’s been sleeping well lately, but I’m worried about the four-month sleep regression. I keep telling myself (and her) she will skip it, but we might face some hard stuff soon.

Becoming the Default Parent

Another unexpected challenge is becoming the default parent. People mentioned it before, but I didn’t grasp it until experiencing it firsthand, and it’s frustrating. Before having a baby, my husband and I discussed equal parenting roles. We intended to share all responsibilities like feeding and diapering. However, I ended up taking on more due to various reasons.

Firstly, I breastfed, so I was the primary feeder. On top of that, I seemed to have a knack for soothing her quickly. Hallie also had a strong preference for me since I spent more time with her, especially during her early months. During the first few months, calming her down fell mostly on me. Plus, pregnancy made me think about life changes more than my husband, so his adjustment to fatherhood was different.

Despite trying to share responsibilities equally, I often felt burdened with more baby care duties. I was overly concerned about keeping the house clean and managing laundry, which added to my stress. This did not help. I constantly felt overwhelmed with tasks like bill payments, health insurance, diaper trash, and walking the dogs. My husband didn’t share the same level of constant worry and was better at switching off and relaxing when not caring for the baby.

However, I still felt stressed when he was watching her, even without a specific reason, just due to worry. I struggle to switch off and feel guilty for not constantly watching her. This leads to burnout and stress, despite having a really supportive partner. 


Struggles with Shared Responsibilities

There also were a few times, and there were some testy moments, I’m not going to lie, where my husband agreed to do something or ran an errand without telling me. Which made me feel like he had a built-in babysitter who will always be there and take care of the baby and he doesn’t have to worry about anything. I was always the default parent, even though it wasn’t his fault. There were tough moments when my husband went out without me, leaving me feeling isolated.

Another challenge was when he had a trip planned when our baby was six weeks old. Despite voicing my concerns, he went on the trip, and looking back, I found it really difficult. In the future, I wouldn’t want solo parenting in the first two months. While handling it alone felt overwhelming at the time, having my mother-in-law came and helped a lot.

Juggling Motherhood and Business: Finding the Right Balance

Balancing my fast-paced business with caring for a baby has been incredibly challenging during my postpartum experience. After taking a full six weeks off, I gradually reintroduced work tasks, starting with client work and podcast recordings. Despite my husband watching the baby, I still find it hard to focus solely on work. I feel guilty when working. It took time to establish a schedule that works for us.

Currently, I handle baby duty in the early mornings until my husband wakes up. In the afternoons, I focus on work, and in the evenings, we share childcare responsibilities. Figuring out this routine was challenging, especially on days when I had to juggle work, childcare, and household tasks. As for childcare plans, we plan to have her home for the first six months. My husband and I both work from home part-time, allowing us to rotate care for our child.

During my postpartum experience, I’ve found it draining to constantly switch between work and mom duties. Having our child at home is distracting, even when my husband is watching her. Breastfeeding while working adds another layer of complexity, although I’m fortunate to work from home and not have to worry about finding a place to pump. Sometimes I opt to breastfeed instead of giving her a bottle to avoid pumping, but this leads to me spending a lot of time feeding her and falling behind on work.

Finding the right balance has been challenging, which I expected. My husband and I are considering dedicating two to three days to childcare. He started taking her to his parents’ house one day a week when she was two months old, which has been incredibly helpful. Having that day to focus on work or rest has been a game-changer. No one interrupted me—it was life-changing. Before having a baby, anytime I claimed to be too busy was a lie.

Some Tips to Navigating the Postpartum Stage

To wrap up, I want to share some tips for the postpartum phase:

  1. Walking: Going on walks has been incredibly helpful for me. It took some time to realize the benefits, but now I make it a regular practice. Hallie is content in the stroller, either falling asleep or enjoying the surroundings, so I often go on two-hour walks with her and our dog. Going on walks provides a much-needed mental break. I can call someone or listen to a podcast or audiobook, which was particularly helpful in the early days when I felt isolated. There were days when I went on three-hour walks with Hallie just to enjoy the peace and quiet or to avoid worrying about her crying.
  2. Extra sleep spaces: While pregnant, you often focus on where the baby will sleep, but it’s equally important to consider where you and your partner will sleep. Having a guest room has been helpful for us, especially since our baby still sleeps in our bedroom. She’s a noisy sleeper and sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night. Having one of us sleep in the guest room while the other sleeps with her is much better for everyone, rather than all three of us being exhausted. Having a second sleeping space has been incredibly helpful, and having a guest room already set up was fortunate. For future pregnancies, I might consider putting a twin bed in the nursery since we have a smaller house and prioritize guest and office space over a traditional nursery setup for now. Eventually, her crib will move into my office, prompting changes to my workspace. We may need to figure out office sharing between my husband and me.
  3. Additional help: Take advantage of all the help you can get and be clear about what you need from people. In the early weeks, I struggled to communicate my needs to willing helpers like my mom or mother-in-law. Having a list of tasks on our fridge helped, as it gave them ideas of how they could assist without us needing to ask directly. My mom took care of tasks like walking the dogs, doing the dishes, and laundry when she stayed with us for two weeks. Unfortunately, she lives far away and couldn’t stay indefinitely, but her help during those first few weeks was invaluable. If you know someone who has just had a baby, consider ways you can assist them without them having to ask. It’s often difficult for new parents to request specific help like doing laundry or walking the dog. I wish more people had offered specific tasks like dropping off dinner or cleaning the kitchen, rather than just asking if there was anything they could do to help. When I was exhausted and overwhelmed, I didn’t have the energy to think about how others could help.
  4. Tough moments: A tip I read early on was to imagine yourself in the future going back in time to spend a day with your child when they were young, especially during tough moments. While I haven’t had exceptionally hard days, I’ve experienced many challenging moments during my postpartum experience. Future me will miss these moments. Reminding myself that the tough times won’t last forever and staying present in the moment has been helpful. The first two months were the hardest with sleep deprivation and constant breastfeeding, but things got easier after that. Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, I’ve seen continuous improvement, which reassures me during difficult moments. Hard times don’t last as long as they feel in the moment.

Reflections on My Postpartum Experience

That’s my full experience, though there’s much more I could share. I might explore motherhood in future content. Balancing business ownership, motherhood, and everyday responsibilities like oil changes and doctor appointments remains challenging. But overall, it’s been great. We adore Hallie; she’s funny and goofy. Seeing her personality emerge with smiles, laughter, and playful interactions melts our hearts and brings immense joy.

Links Mentioned:

*This post may contain affiliate links.