Having a baby is one of the most exciting yet most difficult times in your life. From preparing the nursery to going through labor to finally bringing the baby home and living with this new and fully dependent infant, you experience so much in such a short period of time.
Many new moms may feel overwhelmed, scared, and alone as they try to navigate a new reality. Along with huge and new responsibilities, many new moms also experience large fluctuations in neurochemicals and hormones–and a critical lack of restorative sleep. Some mothers may struggle with their mental and emotional health post-baby.
Luckily, there are many ways to cope to get you feeling more like yourself again now that baby has arrived! You want to enjoy your new bundle of joy as much as you can while they are still so small.
If you’re feeling unlike yourself post-baby, try these few tips and tricks to improve and maintain your mental health.
Find Time to Sleep
It might seem crazy to even think of getting good sleep when you have a baby to care for, but it’s one of the most important ways to restore your mind and body.
A good rule of thumb is to get some shut-eye every time your baby falls asleep. Don’t worry, they’ll wake you up if they need you!
When the baby is a few months old, you might even consider using a daycare to give yourself a break. As this resource from Ladybug Daycare points out, some daycares even offer flexible schedules so you can drop your baby off for just a little while, letting you do important errands or take a quick nap.
Daycare is also a great place for your baby to start experiencing the world around them and interacting with others, even while they are still young!
No matter how you do it, it’s essential to give yourself breaks throughout the day to get some good R&R and keep your mind healthy and sharp.
Get Some Fresh Air
It’s common to feel like you are stuck in the house all day in the first days home with the baby, making many parents feel isolated.
If you can, get outside and take a walk! A good dose of fresh air can work wonders for clearing your mind and reminding you that you aren’t alone or trapped inside.
If you aren’t feeling up for a walk just yet, simply sitting on the porch or cracking a window can get the fresh air flowing. Though when you’re feeling up to it, a stroll with the baby can calm you both down when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Step outside and take a few deep breaths when you can to slow down for a moment and enjoy the world outside your front door.
Give Your Friends A Call
Remember: you are never alone! Your friends and family are always there to have a quick chat or give you a little laugh whenever you feel down.
You can always talk to your partner, but sometimes it can feel good to talk to a close friend or your mom on the phone to find some reassurance or get a simple distraction.
Friends are always a good source of advice if ever you feel like you need some help. You may even find they’ve had similar experiences and can guide you through any complicated feelings you’re having!
It’s simple to pick up the phone and give a friend a call, especially when it helps you feel more like yourself after such a life-changing experience.
Eat Vitamin-Packed Meals
You may have heard the phrase “healthy mind, healthy body,” and it’s just as true post-baby! Eating foods packed with vitamins can improve your cognitive functioning and boost energy and mood overall.
Getting enough protein, fiber, and iron can make all the difference in how you recover after having your baby. There’s just one problem: it’s hard to find the energy to cook a nice, healthy meal when tending to a newborn!
While family and friends are likely to step in and help, you can prepare ahead of time by pre-making nutritious foods and freezing them to reheat later. Soups and stews full of protein and veggies are perfect for freezing since you can easily throw them in a pot and have a meal in no time.
Easy-to-grab snacks like trail mix and fruit are also beneficial to have on hand. You can snack on these small treats between feedings and diaper changes to give yourself more energy and more mental clarity.
A good, well-rounded diet can truly make a difference in how you feel daily while caring for your newborn.
Be Kind to Yourself
Parenting is hard! Everyone struggles, and it’s important to remember that you are not the only one feeling this way. Especially if you are a first-time parent, you have to take it easy on yourself and not think too hard about every decision you make.
You have to do what’s best for you and your baby and not compare yourself to others. You are your own harshest critic, so don’t worry about what anyone else thinks!
Your house may not be spotless. You may have stacks of laundry to do and dirty dishes in the sink. These will get taken care of in time, but you have to take care of yourself first without setting unrealistic expectations.
Know When to Ask for Help
If you feel as though you are struggling more than you should be, reach out to your obstetrician, general practitioner, or a mental health professional for help. They have so many coping tools and resources to guide you through a difficult time that is so unfamiliar.
There are many resources for free and confidential help to make sure you get the emotional support you need.
Whether it’s finding the right daycare, calling a friend, or trying to eat healthier recipes, you can take care of yourself post-baby in so many ways. Your mental health should be a top priority so you can give your new baby the love and attention they need.