Latest posts by Merril Bainbridge (see all)
- Caring for Yourself when You’re Caring for a Newborn - February 26, 2018
For most mothers, especially new ones, giving birth is a joyous occasion. It is one of life’s treasured moments. After months of anticipation, your bundle of joy is now in your arms. Life will never be the same again.
Along with the new addition to your family comes new challenges. Adjustments have to be made and priorities will need to be rearranged. With all the commotion that comes with a new baby, there is a tendency to forget one important factor: caring for yourself.
The postnatal period – the days and weeks following childbirth – is a critical time where both mothers and babies should receive particular care. It is a crucial time to watch out for possible complications that could endanger the lives of both parent and child.
Usually lasting from six to eight weeks, the postnatal period subjects mothers to various changes. This is also a period where you and your partner will learn how to care for your newborn.
Remember to take extra care so you can regain your strength. There is a reason why experts have come up with specific guidelines for postnatal care for mothers. They know that you have been through quite an ordeal and, therefore, must receive particular attention while recuperating.
Ways to care for yourself
- You need to rest. You need to take a breather from taking care of your baby. Doing so will refresh you and give you the energy to attend to your child’s needs.
- Eat well. Maintain a healthy diet to help your body heal and recover. You can get so exhausted from taking care of the baby, so plan to prepare simple but nutritious food that can keep you going.
- Sleep while the baby sleeps. Sleeping for eight hours straight will be an alien idea to you for quite some time until the baby adjusts. Take the chance to get some much-needed zzzs while your baby naps.
- Strategize. Map out your bedroom or nursery where everything should be within reach. Move the baby’s crib closer to your bed or breastfeeding chair. Keep the wipes and diapers at arm’s length of the changing table. The less time you spend walking (or scrambling) around, the less you get tired.
- Exercise. After consulting your physician, slowly ease in physical activity. Check out health clubs or yoga studios for postpartum exercises suitable for new moms.
- Have realistic body expectations, however. Some mothers want to get rid of their pregnancy weight fast that they go on extreme dieting. Rapid weight loss can be dangerous for both you and your baby, especially if you are breastfeeding. It usually takes several months to lose the post-pregnancy weight, so take your time and opt for keeping a healthy and active lifestyle.
- Wear supportive clothing for engorged breasts relief. During the first few weeks, moms may experience breast engorgement and swelling. If your breasts become over full with milk, they become hard and painful. To alleviate pain, warm compresses, gentle massage to aid the flow of milk, and avoiding restrictive clothing can help.
- Family and friends could be equally excited to welcome your newborn and flock to the hospital or your home to visit. While most parents enjoy receiving guests, you shouldn’t feel obligated to entertain. Feel free to beg off to feed or nap.
- When you’re up for it, connect with people whose company you enjoy. Take turns with your partner or ask someone you trust to watch over the baby for even a few hours so you can go out. Even a quick chat over the phone with a friend can already recharge you.
- Seek support. Ask family members, trusted friends, or even a professional to help you with household chores while on the adjustment period.
Mothers need to be relieved of all responsibilities other than taking care of herself and her baby in the first few weeks. This is especially important if she is breastfeeding or if she has undergone a C-section (which takes longer to fully heal).
Taking a mental breather is equally important. Some moms find it hard to put themselves first. This shouldn’t be the case as you will need to clear your mind to be able to think clearly while caring for your baby. Take time to do something else that is not connected to child-rearing. Read a book, watch a movie, take up a new hobby, or do anything else that is totally unrelated to parenting.
- Treat yourself. Do not let yourself go. Just because you’ve become a mom, it doesn’t mean that you will devote all of your care and attention to your child. Go enjoy a hair spa, get a mani-pedi, or pamper yourself with a full body massage. Take a stroll or simply enjoy a few moments of peace and silence. You will thank yourself for taking time out to rejuvenate.
- Watch out for the “baby blues”. It’s not uncommon to experience the blues after giving birth. Some women feel weepy, frustrated, irritable, impatient, restless, or anxious, but these feelings usually go away after a few weeks.
However, these symptoms may also be indicative of postpartum depression. If these feelings mount and you experience more anxiety, memory loss, or fear of hurting yourself or the baby, talk to your doctor at once.
Don’t feel embarrassed or afraid to share what you feel with a loved one or a medical professional, and seek help early. Proper treatment will ensure that you can resolve your symptoms and fully experience the joys of motherhood.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Take care of yourself first. You have been through a rollercoaster of emotions and physical changes during pregnancy that you need time to catch your breath. Savor the pocket moments with that tiny human that is your child, but also save some time for yourself.
By making sure that your needs are met, you can fully take on the challenges of motherhood with a clear mind, a sound body, and a stout heart.