Meet Elaine Leung
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, meet first time mom, Elaine Leung. Elaine is a Senior Revenue Accounting Manager, managing a team of 6 staff members; and at home, she's managing an adorable 10 month old son. In our Meet The Mamas Series, Elaine gives us a glimpse into her postpartum journey and shares what she experienced and what she would have done differently.
Elaine Leung and 10 months old son
How long was your recovery after giving birth? Did you run into any challenges? What helped your recovery the most?
I would say I'm still recovering after giving birth. I don't think there is ever returning to how I used to be prior to giving birth. So many things within the body change after giving birth. The biggest challenge for me after giving birth was the constant tiredness and lack of sleep. I would choose to sleep over many things during the first three months such as brushing my teeth, showering, combing my hair and even eating.
What are some products or support you wish you had when you got home that first week after giving birth? What was really helpful in making your life easier as a new mom?
I would have loved preset meals like what Ritual Meals is offering. During the first three months I was shoveling food into my mouth without enjoying the food and also finding quick meals which oftentimes were muffins, croissants, cereal, etc. One of things that helped me a lot were my in-laws; I temporarily moved in with them because I dealt with some postpartum blues. They were supportive of me and would remind me to eat even when I didn't want to.
What are some of your favorite self care rituals to do postpartum?
One of things that I did was take a hot shower. I used to take it for granted but just standing in a hot shower helped with my body aches and helped relieve some of the stress I was feeling because of dealing with a newborn but also some of the postpartum blues I was feeling.
I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with getting help from family or friends.
I temporarily moved in with my in-laws because my husband went back to work after taking 2 weeks off. He would drive 70 miles one way to work and it would take him 1.5-2 hours each way. So the thought of being alone with a baby while he was gone for that many hours made my anxiety go up. My son had his day and night time switched, and then there were moments where I couldn't figure out why he was crying and what he needed. I also wasn't producing much milk and when I pumped, it felt like not much was coming out.
One of the things that I wished I would have done differently was researched more about how to care for a newborn prior to giving birth. I had a fantasy about babies just drinking and sleeping.
Did you experience any baby blues or postpartum anxiety or depression? Do you have any advice for new mothers struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression?
Yes, I experienced postpartum blues and with COVID-19 happening soon after I gave birth, it didn't help my anxiety at all. There were doctor appointments that only one parent could go to. My son was also losing weight and I saw a lactation consultant a few times.
What's the worst advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
The worst advice I got was trying to keep my son awake more during the day so that he would sleep better at night. This caused my son to cry so much because he was constantly overtired. I should have listened to my mama gut and also listened to my baby. He was telling me things and instead I listened to those who had children a long time ago.
What's the best advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
The best advice I have received is to never compare your baby to other babies. It's very easy to compare babies and get concerned about milestones, but I came to terms with it when he was 6 months old. He will do things on his own time. All I can do is offer him a caring and safe environment.
Any closing advice for someone who's just about to be a new mom?
I would advise a parent, not necessarily just a mom, to look into books on how to care for a newborn. What to Expect When You're Expecting was a great pregnancy book and I wished I would have read in advance prior to giving birth What to Expect the First Year book. Within the first chapter it mentions the things I was experiencing.
What I also advise is to seek out support groups online. There are parenting groups on Facebook for the month and year your baby is born. I am in two Facebook groups for parents who have January 2020 babies. The groups are helpful, because it allowed me to see what other parents were going through and in essence it made me feel comfortable with my situation because other parents were experiencing the same thing.