As a new mom, taking care of your little one can be an overwhelming task. Feedings throughout the day (and night), diapering dilemmas, and all-encompassing fatigue can make everyday tasks overwhelming.
While it’s hard to think past the moment when you’re stuck in a sleepless fog, it’s important to maintain your health alongside of your baby’s. Here are three health tips to help you care for yourself while enjoying the first sleepy weeks with your newborn.
Health Tip #1 - Use Your Support Network
The importance of having a support network in the early days of motherhood is substantial. Traditionally, this comes in the form of mothers or grandmothers coming alongside you for an extended stay after baby’s arrival.
Yet, over the years of bringing home newborns, I’ve found those who truly help sometimes go beyond blood relations.
Several times in my earliest days of motherhood I asked for help with specific tasks only to be told, “I really came just to cuddle the baby.” While the sentiment of wanting to hold a newborn is nice, it doesn’t promote a new mom’s recovery and ongoing health.
When thinking about your support network, look for people who meet some (or all) of the following criteria:
- They ask what you need and are willing to truly help with any request.
- They don’t pop in unannounced while expecting to stay for a visit or be entertained.
- They boost your morale by truly listening and offer advice only when asked.
Once you’ve identified your support system, find ways to utilize them during your early days as a new mom. Here are some specific ways you could ask your village to help:
- Picking up, cleaning, washing dishes, or cooking meals.
- Buying and delivering groceries for the week (including easy to prepare snacks and meals).
- Someone to watch the baby while you shower or take a nap.
- Childcare for older siblings.
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Health Tip #2 - Plan for Small Successes
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a new mom can make is having rigid expectations for success in the days following baby’s birth. Despite the number of parenting books read before baby’s arrival, unseen circumstances and curves in the road have a way to making any new mom feel like she can’t live up to her self-imposed specifications.
As a new mom of a (somewhat) unpredictable newborn, it’s best to plan for small successes for a healthy day and a healthy you. Plan to triumph in the following areas:
- Your Feedings - Just as you’re planning to feed your baby throughout the day, plan to feed yourself. Look for easy meals and quick (but healthy) snacks to keep you fueled up. If you’re breastfeeding, the first few weeks will bring an increased appetite, so don’t be alarmed if you’re running to the kitchen a bit more often than usual.
- Your Morale - Start your day well by showering (bring baby in the bathroom with you if needed) and getting dressed. You can even get in the habit of dressing your baby so you’re both ready to meet the day.
- Your Appointments - Just as you won’t be missing baby’s checkups in the coming weeks, make sure to schedule and keep your own appointments. Furthermore, if you have concerns about your postpartum recovery, call your doctor immediately. Don’t put your health on the back burner by solely focusing on your child’s.
- Your Health - Help stop the spread of germs by washing your hands (or using hand sanitizer) throughout the day. This is especially important after diaper changes and before preparing food for yourself or bottles for your newborn.
- Your Hydration - Staying hydrated won’t just help your immune system, it’ll also give you an extra burst of energy. In those first days of motherhood those little energy bursts are what sustain you. Keep a water bottle nearby and fill it up throughout the day.
Health Tip #3 - Be Prepared to Offer Forgiveness
Much like the mood swings during your first trimester, the postpartum period is fraught with hormonal changes. Without warning you may find yourself on an emotional roller coaster: on top of the world one moment and feeling like you’re blue the next.
Plan to offer yourself (and your partner) forgiveness from day one. All of a sudden you may be spending hours each day feeding a baby while your partner rests on the couch. Skip the frustration over undone chores and recognize that you’ve both had a lot of changes; stealing moments to rest are okay.
After all, the days (and nights) can be extremely long with a newborn. Yet, before you know it, your baby will be smiling, reaching for toys, and rolling over. Find moments to cherish and store those memories of the first weeks with your newborn.
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