As a mom, it’s natural to willingly make sacrifices for your newborn, from losing sleep to not taking the time to see friends. However, the best thing you can do for your newborn is to take care of yourself. Your child needs you to be alert, in a good mood and feeling well mentally and physically. Women often take on the responsibility of taking care of others instead of themselves or feel guilty if they take time to indulge in a hobby. There are certain things that will be out of your control for a while–like getting a full night’s sleep–but there are other ways to care for yourself, while caring for your baby. Here are a few ideas.
Journaling: You’ll experience significant hormonal changes after having your baby. Those hormonal shifts may cause you to feel down or stressed. It’s important to find an outlet, like journaling, to express those feelings. Getting your feelings out will help alleviate stress.
Depend on your family and community: Asking for help does not come easy for many women. This is not the time to try to do everything by yourself. Your friends and loved ones want to help, so try to give yourself a break even if it’s having someone stay at the house while you nap or go to pick up a few groceries at the store.
Hygiene: It’s important to take care of your hygiene, especially being around a newborn. Wash your hands regularly, particularly after diaper changes and before feeding your baby. Make sure to not let healthy habits slip. It’s very easy to suddenly realize at the end of the day that you didn’t brush your teeth! It’s also important to keep your perineum clean. This is the area between the vagina and rectum. It may feel irritated or painful from giving birth. If you delivered vaginally, a warm bath helps clean and soothe the area.
Parent Group: Sometimes the best therapy is learning that there are many other people going through the same thing as you and feeling the same way you do. A parent group will allow you to share feelings and ideas with other parents going through similar experiences.
Regular OBGYN follow ups: Make sure to schedule a 6-week postpartum appointment following your delivery. Your doctor will ensure that you are healing and recovering properly. Pregnancy and childbirth have a great impact on your body’s organs, like the bladder, so it’s important to make sure everything is functioning as it did before you became pregnant. The 6-week visit is also a good time to bring up any concerns like if your baby isn’t breastfeeding, or to ask your doctor when you can go back to the gym. This visit isn’t only a physical checkup, but a mental check-in as well. Your doctor will most likely take this opportunity to find out if you are experiencing any postpartum depression.
Overall, make time to take care of yourself. You’ll be happier and so will your baby!