048. How to TRANSITION with a Newborn When You are a PEAK PERFORMER

Do you usually excel in your endeavors? What if that changes when you enter a new chapter of life, such as parenthood? Navigating the delicate dance of transitioning into parenthood while excelling as a peak performer presents a unique challenge. Balancing a thriving career with the joys and hurdles of raising a newborn demands meticulous planning, unwavering determination, and a strong support system. Peak performers often find themselves redefining work-life boundaries, mastering time management, and adapting to a new rhythm, all while embracing the transformative journey of nurturing a newborn. It’s a testament to their resilience as they strive to maintain professional excellence while savoring the priceless moments of parenthood.

In today’s episode, join Dr. Ann Tsung on her remarkable journey into motherhood as a peak performer. She shares her insights on harmonizing life with a newborn while excelling professionally, caring for herself and her loved ones. Learn from her experiences and uncover the secrets to achieving peak performance in this new chapter of life that she has embraced.

Key Points From This Episode:

  1. Ann’s routine before having her newborn compared to her routine as a new mom.
  2. Self-care should come first; if you don’t take care of yourself, nothing else matters.
  3. Self-care involves nutrition, sleep, exercise, and reducing your sympathetic drive.
  4. Try to keep your sleep highly efficient.
  5. Maintaining your nutrition postpartum.
  6. Balance your exercise with adequate sleep.
  7. Start a digital detox to reduce your sympathetic fight or flight response.
  8. Consider hiring a house manager during your postpartum recovery.
  9. Create time for yourself and enhance your emotional well-being.
  10. Focus on your significant other and build stable relationships.

Listen to the previous episodes here


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48 - How to TRANSITION with a Newborn When You are a PEAK PERFORMER

00:06 Announcer If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So here’s your host Dr. Ann Tsung.

00:42 Dr. Ann Tsung Hello. Welcome to It’s Not Rocket Science Show. I am your host Dr. Ann Tsung. Today I like to share my journey postpartum in the past eight weeks — how if you’re a high achiever, if you strive to be productive as productive as possible, if you’re a high performer, how can you adapt when you have a newborn come into your household? For me, it was a huge shock because I value routine. I value getting all my tasks done. Hopefully, the top three before 8 AM. Waking up early, doing my meditation, my cold shower. And when I had that newborn, everything went out the window. So I like to share with you my journey the past eight weeks and how I’ve had to adapt to the changes of a newborn when there’s no routine at all. It’s kind of a controlled chaos. You never know what to expect. This was my firstborn. So to me, everything is new. We will talk about how to achieve vitality freedom, because I’m always huge on the five freedoms. Achieve vitality freedom. That’s essentially physical health. We’ll talk about achieving an emotional freedom, time freedom, and the last two. There’s location freedom and also financial freedom as well, and how all of that plays a role in adapting to a newborn. So let’s go ahead and begin.

02:03 Before I had my baby, I had this morning routine. I will wake up, get the most difficult tasks done first before everything else. That’s like my magic hour. The spreadsheet, or document, or slideshow would have been opened already, ready to go so I’m not distracted by anything. Then I would drink my bulletproof coffee, do my cold shower. I dance in the cold shower, et cetera, and just play deep focus music afterwards and finish the second task or third task. Typically, those are done by 8 or 9 AM. And I would have won for the day. Now after the baby, because I am pumping, breastfeeding, so I am waking up. Before the baby, I was optimizing my sleep. I was a sleep maximizer, the most efficient sleeper ever. I would definitely not eat three hours before bed. I have all of the lights dimmed down. I have intense blue-blocking glasses. I have the Oura Ring to track my sleep, and I am always very cognizant of screens before bed. And now my sleep is always interrupted — pumping or breastfeeding every three hours. I never have a routine. I’m looking at screens before bed, because sometimes I just have to get things done on my phone or on the desktop whenever I can. So my sleep has taken a huge hit in terms of routine. So I want to share with you going through all of these. The first few weeks was just chaos with a newborn. As a new mom, just learning the routine — the most efficient way to wash bottles, et cetera, the bottle routine, the diaper blowouts, all of those things.

03:48 And maybe two to three weeks, I’m also dealing with low breast milk supply too. So I’m just trying everything, going to appointments, trying everything to increase the supply. I talked to my coach. I was like, “Okay. Tell me how I can still be productive while being a new mom. What’s the trick? What’s the hack?” Because my husband and I, we’re still trying — I’m doing a 1031 exchange, essentially selling my old property in Vegas. I’m exchanging, delaying the tax on that sale and exchanging the whole proceeds into a new property. We’re currently assessing a 17-unit property in Houston right now. I’m doing that. I’m doing high-performance coaching, peak performance coaching. I am also starting back to work in the ER two weeks postpartum, starting weightlifting two weeks postpartum. I just thought that it was just quite a bit. I was like, there’s got to be a way to be more efficient with this. I was trying to make baby care into another task I can solve, to be more efficient so I can still complete everything else.

04:52 Because being productive and still completing things was my identity for so long before the baby, I think what I’ve realized then when I discussed with my coach is that, really, self-care comes first. If you don’t take care of yourself, nothing else matters. No matter how many tasks you complete, it won’t matter. That goes along with low breast milk supply, too. If you’re high stress, if you’re not sleeping well, then you’re going to have increased cortisol. You’re not going to have good milk supply. It’s not about finding the solution to become more efficient to complete those tasks, but it’s to look at within. Right now, look at your vitality freedom. If you’re meeting your needs first, then you can figure out how to connect with your baby while completing all the other tests too, if that makes sense.

05:45 Number one, I wanted to discuss self-care in terms of sleep nutrition, exercise, and decreasing your sympathetic drive. For sleep, what I had to do, I got into a rhythm. What I had to do, I will oversleep, and I will miss pumping. Sometimes I will oversleep up to five hours, six hours. You’re supposed to pump to keep up your supply at least every three hours. I would feel very guilty about it. That’s the reason why I have low breast milk supply — because I didn’t wake up. Now, if you look at the other side, if you don’t sleep enough, then you cannot make milk either. To me, it’s like, okay, how am I supposed to sleep enough and wake up in order to make milk and empty frequently?

06:32 Well, the solution for me, what I came up with is to sleep as early as possible right when the baby starts sleeping. Shower really early. When the baby is ready to sleep, you go down with the baby at 9 or 10 PM so that during the longest stretch — because he sleeps three to four hours — I could also get three, four hours and actually be able to wake up to feed and pump. That has been working a little bit better. In the past, before I did that, I would just keep staying up, keep staying up. When the baby went to sleep, I was like, okay, now it’s time for me to get my tasks done. I need to do this on the laptop, book this, research this, email this. Then three or four hours later, the baby is up. So I’m doing the nursing, the feeding again. Then, really, I don’t actually get to bed at 2 or 3 AM. That was not sustainable. I was sleeping all the way until noon sometimes taking intermittent naps. So I try to make my sleep really efficient and at least during the nighttime, early nighttime, versus sleeping during the day time up till noon. Because early in the nighttime when you sleep is when you get your deep sleep. Then if you sleep during the early mornings, at least for me, that’s when I get my REM sleep. I need to make sure I get an hour and a half of REM and two hours deep. At least, that’s what I need per my Oura.

07:51 Regarding nutrition, I started doing more grocery deliveries or grocery pickups to save time. Also, a huge thing is I started having — I essentially hired a house manager. Initially, it was a nanny position but it became a house manager. On care.com, I posted a job that you had to be able to do house cleaning, meal prep, washing, cutting vegetables and fruits, and actually cooking for us, and laundry, and washing dishes, et cetera. It has to be like an all-in-one help, help for mom and help for baby. And so that’s been really helpful in terms of keeping up with my nutrition meal prepping or having meals delivered that are freshly-made, organic, grass-fed, et cetera.

08:36 Regarding exercise, of course, full disclosure. Please talk to your OB whether you’d be able to go back or when you’d be able to go back. Because everyone’s postpartum recovery process is different because of the delivery. For me, I had a really great delivery experience, where by the time I got into the hospital, to the labor and delivery ER until delivery was approximately seven hours. I have my epidural. I was just waiting for my OB to arrive. By the time she arrived, I was ready to go. We started pushing. The baby was out in 17 minutes — it was amazing — after five pushes. I had no perineal tears, only a superficial tear. I greatly attribute to the short amount of time of pushing to my weightlifting for the past 9-10 years. I think if I had not done my squat, snatch, deadlift, clean and jerk, I don’t think I would have had a strong core or know how to push from the bottom, from the pelvic region as well or as efficiently.

09:42 Then postpartum, within 10 days, I actually felt fairly normal and recovered vaginally. On my third week, I went back to the gym just doing light bar workouts, very, very light like 40%, 50% of my max weight and doing some range of motion. There were definitely some pelvic pressure and urine leakage. I had to be careful on the jerks especially. Though it felt really good going back to the gym, I want to caution you though to please, please, balance exercise with sleep. Sometimes, because I was lifting for so long even with decreased sleep, I was still wanting to go to the gym. Initially, I went twice a week — week 3, 4, 5. Then week 6 and 7, I’ve progressed to three times a week at about up to 70% to 80% of max weight. It’s such a fine balance between going to work out to keep your sanity and self-care versus getting enough sleep, versus stressing yourself out, increasing your cortisol, and you don’t have enough recovery time. Then it leads to low breast milk supply. That is something I’m always trying to balance and trying to keep up. It helps me keep my sanity, at least. It’s time to get away. It feels good to actually lift weights again.

11:05 The last thing from my self-care is that, essentially, the entire goal is to bond with my baby, to feed my baby, to make enough breast milk. In addition to everything I’ve done — from the lactation consultant, fenugreek supplements, eating more oats, et cetera, and pumping frequently — I also started doing digital detox, which means anything to decrease my sympathetic fight or flight drive, and increasing my parasympathetic drive, which is the relaxation mode when you’re digesting, et cetera. On the weekend, I started doing over 30 plus hours digital detox. That means no screens. The phones are off. I put it in a drawer or somewhere we can’t see it. I tell my friends and family, “Hey, I’m doing digital detox this weekend. If you need to get a hold of me, then you can call or text my husband.” The reason is, I don’t want to let the screens or the phones or any tasks distract me from bonding with my baby. I don’t want to look on my phones when I’m bonding with my baby, when I’m feeding my baby or playing with my baby at all, whatsoever. I don’t want to get stressed about logging the diapers, logging the feeds. It’s just going to be pen and paper for that day or day and a half. And that’s it.

12:25 When I first did that, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. I didn’t have to answer to anyone. There was nothing to do, and all I had to do was focus on my husband and my family. That’s it. I strongly suggest you trying at least starting off maybe two hours of digital detox, four hours of digital detox progressing to a day. You’ll find that after your digital detox, the world didn’t end. You just responded when you were able to respond. Nothing emergent. It rarely happens. When there’s something emergent, usually, it will be like something health-related, a family emergency. For the amount I have been doing it, usually, there’s not anything that I had to respond. I do on the weekend like a Saturday, Sunday. You pick a day that works for you.

13:12 Another thing I’m starting to do is, I usually do sensory deprivation floats. That drops me into a lower brainwave state where I can be fully relaxed in alpha state, and then drop even further to a slower state of state where I can be creative, where insights could come, into delta state which is like sleep. I decided that it had been my most effective self-care strategy before the baby. I decided to double down. I got the summer membership where it was $250 for unlimited float for the month. I’m going to start going three times a week. Before, I would go once a month to once every two weeks. Now I’m going to be going three times a week. And it will be my priority. Because, for me, that’s been the most effective to decrease my fight or flight drive.

14:08 The next thing, for emotional freedom. Essentially, to decrease stress, to cope with this new change in your body, new change in the routine. There’s no routine anymore. You have to be a mom. You have to be a wife. You have to be a daughter. It just feels a lot. You’re playing a lot of roles. Right now, baby is almost all the focus. It’s very, very difficult to keep up with all the day-to-day tasks like taking the car to the dealership, or washing dishes, washing all of the bottle parts, doing laundry, folding laundry, et cetera, meal prepping, grocery shopping. There’s just a lot. And if you are financially able to, I highly recommend hiring somebody who is not just a nanny but almost like a house manager.

14:57 I got really lucky, and we found a house manager who’s very loving and also intuitive. She wishes to do well. She would do things that’s not even on the task list. It has been helping greatly in terms of, she does bottle management. She washes and cuts, preps our fruits, all of our vegetables. She would dry rub our meat the day before. Then she will cook it based on instructions the day after, do all the laundry, fold them, take care of the baby, feed the baby if needed during her hours. Also, without us even asking her to do it, she cleaned our fridge, which is amazing. It really needed some TLC. That’s the kind of person that you are looking for to help you out. Because we have trialed somebody before. You don’t want to be with the person that you don’t trust or who stresses you out, who can look at the list and do things halfway though you’re never going to know if it’s going to be fully done. Then that’s not somebody who is right for you. I suggest a two-week trial.

16:06 If their hourly rate is less than your hourly rate, then that’s a task I will give them, if that makes sense, instead of you doing it yourself. Depending on your hourly rate of your work, I think, if it’s something that other people can do for less than your hourly rate, I would delegate that out. That’s another thing I started utilizing, which is TaskRabbit. I had to drop a breast pump off something that’s like a 45-minute drive. It was like a rental. It would have been two hours roundtrip. I didn’t want the time to be taken away from me being with the baby, with the family. So I hired a tasker from TaskRabbit. It costs $25, which saved me two hours of my time, and also driving which can be dangerous as well. Looking to TaskRabbit or any sort of tasks like Upwork perhaps or Fiverr to do any one time or little task or errands for you.

17:11 Then the next thing I decided as a solution to create time and also to improve my emotional freedom, to improve my time freedom, is that I hired a VA. I was referred to a VA recruiter who is very experienced in hiring VAs. He helped me find out of hundreds of applicants. He helped me find this one VA who is going to be full-time salary at 160 hours a month at $3 an hour. What that means is that I can get somebody’s time a full month, 160 hours, for a total of $480 a month. He’s going to be my personal assistant to help me with social media, to help me research on travel, to make appointments, calendar management. Really, anything I need, he is going to be my person, my go-to. Leveraging him to give me an extra 160 hours a month so I can spend with my family, have date nights with my husband, to feed and play with my baby, to me, that is worth it. So I’m really excited about this.

18:26 Now, that is all for self-care. If you can give yourself the relaxation, the time, the physical needs, if you can meet all of that and the emotional needs, everything else will fall into place. You will realize the solutions that you need to address everything else. Because the next thing that is important is not those tasks — like real estate tasks, the emails, et cetera — it’s really focusing on your significant other, if you have a significant other.

18:57 For me, my next focus other than my own self-care, my non-negotiable, is my husband. Because if I have a stable relationship with him, then my baby will feel safe. We’ll be eating well. We’ll be playing well. But if we don’t have a stable relationship, if we’re bickering, fighting, have poor communication, blaming each other, the baby is not going to feel safe and stable in this environment. We’ll not thrive. For me, I put down some of my non-negotiables first on my calendar which is, I want to make sure I have this self-care scheduled in. I have massage, chiropractor appointments because I’m sore for having poor sleep and turning and holding the baby. My wrists have been sore. So massage, acupuncture, chiropractor, float, make sure I have skin to skin with baby, make sure I have couple’s time with my husband, showing him his love language, give him a hug, a kiss. Because it could almost seem like a work relationship when it comes to a newborn. It’s like both sides where just everything’s about the baby — caring for the baby, taking turns so the other person can shower, or the other person can eat while the other person is feeding the baby. So it’s really important to have once you get comfortable having the nanny come over a few hours, so you can go out alone and not have the baby with you. You can focus on each other, talk to each other.

20:30 We just did that yesterday. Actually, it was our one-year wedding anniversary. I surprised my husband by having the nanny come over at 7. We went out on a date to a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to. I was supposed to go to the week of my delivery. It was so nice to be alone to talk, to converse as a couple again. We kind of forgot how it was before. Because right now, it’s all baby talk.

21:00 I also want to share with you a communication tool. Because sometimes, with the baby, there’s a bunch of appointments. We’ve had missed appointments because we didn’t know the time exactly, or there are other tasks that needed to be done, certain things on the calendar. It will be useful to have a shared family calendar on Google, which is what we started, and also Sunday morning to review the coming week. I have this, this, this, this. Are you going to be able to watch a baby at that time? Same thing with him. He’ll let me know when he’s going to gym or if he has any appointments. I’ll let him know all my appointments, which is on the calendar as well, to make sure we’re all on the same page. Because the first few weeks, we had a little slip ups. Then the next day, number three, you want to focus on family which is bonding with your baby, playing with your baby, spending time. Working always late, you never want to miss the baby growing up just because there’s other pending tasks that you think is urgent but is actually not that urgent. Because they grow up so fast. We’ve heard this before, or a lot of us have heard this before. People on their deathbed, they never wished that they could work more. But they always wish that they could have experienced more or spend more time with their family.

22:15 And so number three priority should be your newborn or your family, your mom, your friends, making sure that you have some sort of social event and have somebody help you watch the baby, which is what I did. I went out with some of my girlfriends. I still had some networking events. We set up a physician entrepreneur networking dinner. I went to that, and I was very grateful that my husband was able to watch the baby.

22:43 Another thing that I did that was very helpful for me to feel not too stressed out was, the first few weeks, I was still putting my top three priorities to do Monday through Friday. Every day, I will have top three lists, top three lists. I got to finish this by this. I was getting stressed out because you never know when the baby’s going to wake up. You never know when the baby needs to eat. One task is delayed, and it just keeps getting delayed until afternoon. To me, I’m like, I don’t get to finish. I didn’t get to finish my top three by noon. I really had to come to terms with that. Also, it felt like work, like work week. It’s Monday, Monday through Friday. It felt like an actual work week even though I’m on maternity leave.

23:32 And so what I did was, I did a condensed magic day of the week for work. What that means is that the days for work-related items like tasks or emails are only Tuesdays and Thursdays for me. All the other days will only be self-care items, fun items, or just playing with the baby. That’s it. And so if there’s anything to do, an appointment, a call, a task, or email I need to send, they’re all scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No other calls is going to be scheduled all the other days. I don’t have to look at my calendar to know, oh, do I have an appointment this day? Do I have to go somewhere this day, et cetera, et cetera? It’s all Tuesdays and Thursdays. That’s it. You’ll find that most of the time, they can wait until those two days. If you’re on maternity leave, take advantage of it. Instead of making yourself working emotional state of work mode Monday through Friday, if that makes sense, schedule the fun things on the weekdays. Schedule your massage on the weekdays, whatever.

24:38 And so, after this podcast, I am going to go float. My husband is washing the baby for me. I’m getting this podcast in between and leveraging other people’s help. You just make it work. If you don’t get to complete your tasks though, if there’s something that you happen to miss that day that you have to push to another day, it’s really okay. Because rarely are anything emergent and important. We create these urgencies in our head, but they’re really not that urgent. You just focus on one priority a day. That’s it. If it doesn’t get completed, give yourself some compassion. Give yourself some grace, and please live in the game. What that means is: think about what you have gained for the day instead of living in the gap of what you didn’t accomplish. What you gain in the day, well, at least for me today was I got to feed my baby multiple times. I looked into his eyes. I got to hold him up. He took little steps on my belly and my chest. He spit up on me. It’s so fun. He’s so cute. I think nothing else really matters when you focus on family, the friends, the human connection.

26:00 Again, I want to recap. The first thing to address is self-care. If you do not take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anybody else. Then you can address your relationship with your loved ones, significant other, your family, your parents, your baby, children, your friends. Then you schedule everything else. I’m leveraging taskers. I’m leveraging my nanny to help me with the household items. I’m leveraging the VA for real estate items, for emails, for coaching, for appointments, for research, for travel, scheduling, et cetera. Just find things that work for you. It won’t be perfect all the time. I am learning myself. I will record an update to see how everything works out and if I have found a more efficient way. Really though, it’s about a mindset change. It’s not about being efficient anymore. It’s about being present now. It’s being in the moment, just having that eye-to-eye connection, the love with your loved ones, your baby. That’s it. There’s nothing else that matters.

27:11 Please go to itsnotrocketscienceshow.com for the show notes. I really appreciate your attention, your presence during this podcast. Any feedback, please send us a review. I would love to hear it. And if you go to the website or join my private Facebook group, you’ll see a complimentary seven-day video masterclass on how to improve your productivity in just half the time. Also, please schedule a call if you’re interested in a 15-minute laser call to see if you are fit for peak performance coaching. You can connect with me on my social media — Instagram or Facebook — or go to my website and fill out the application that goes along with the coaching call. Then we will go from there. Well, thank you so much. And remember, everything we need is within us now. Have a fantastic day.

28:08 Announcer That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review in iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung herself. Then be sure to head on over to itsnotrocketscienceshow.com, and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then join us on the next episode.