Having a baby is something that is exciting and scary at the same time. When you have a baby, and when you become a new mum, everything can feel a little bit overwhelming. Suddenly, you have a new little life to take care of all the time. This little life depends on you and needs you more than you realize, and it can scare you at times just to think of the sheer weight and responsibility that rests on your shoulders. Of course, when you start focusing on the responsibility that is on your shoulders, you can start to take less care of yourself, and as a result, your mental health and well-being may no longer be the main priority. Of course, your new baby is your priority, but this does not mean that you do not have to look after yourself (and, most importantly, should not look after yourself). If you are neglecting to look after yourself, then small problems may soon build up and turn into larger, more unbearable problems. So, before this happens, you need to take action.
Taking Care of Yourself
You may not have as much time to yourself as you had before your baby arrived, but this does not mean that you should neglect your own well-being or your looks. When you look good yourself, you then feel good. It can be easy to just wear frumpy and loose-fitting clothes after your baby has been born, and this can, unfortunately, lead to a downward spiral. If you just wear any old clothes, then slowly, other aspects of your self-care routine will also start to follow that same downward spiral. Taking care of yourself starts with loving yourself and appreciating that your body needs care and attention because it has just been through a major amount of trauma and stress.
Getting Enough Sleep
Yes, sometimes sleeping when you have a newborn baby can be more difficult than you imagine, but whenever you can, you must try and rest. Sleeping when the baby is sleeping is always a good rule to follow because this way, you can ensure you are catching up on lost sleep (even if only through napping). If you do not get enough sleep, then your body will start to work against you. Your body will start to shut down, and then your lack of sleep will affect your energy levels and even your mood. Sleep is essential to have as part of a healthy lifestyle, and if you are not getting the sleep and rest that you need, then sooner or later, this will begin to catch up with you.
You can fall into a terrible habit of snacking as a new mum, especially if you are not getting the right amount of sleep. When it comes to eating healthily, it can help to prepare your meals in advance (to ensure you are getting nutritious meals). Batch cooking, perhaps once a week and then freezing your meals, will ensure that you have enough food to keep you going for a few days and that food is readily available – even at short notice. When you focus on batch cooking, you ensure you have convenience, too, because most meals can simply be reheated in an oven or in the microwave. Getting your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables will ensure that you have the energy and the strength to get through those first few months with a newborn baby.
Cutting Down on the Caffeine
You may be drinking copious amounts of coffee or tea to help you get through the day or the night. However, excess amounts of caffeine can be incredibly bad for your health and overall well-being. Caffeine can keep you awake, and this is no good when you are trying to sleep at the same time as your baby. You may also find that caffeine can leave you feeling irritable and possibly even a bit restless, and these are certainly not two emotions you want to be feeling when you are taking care of a newborn baby.
Talking to Those Around You
Reaching out to those around you is something that you must do. Speaking to friends, family, health professionals and perhaps even work colleagues is beneficial for you. When you talk to those around you, you share your worries, your thoughts, and possibly even your concerns. Quite often, when you share a problem, you can halve a problem, and the relief that you get might just improve the day you are having, or possibly even the week that you are having. Opening up and sharing what you are experiencing and going through is crucial, especially as a new mum. Do not shy away from opening up and sharing with others.
If you do not feel that talking is helping you as much as it should, then there are other avenues you need to explore to get support. For example, reaching out to your local midwife or healthcare professional is always recommended. Getting support for what you may be feeling or experiencing is a positive step to take and not something that you should be embarrassed about. If you do not get the support that you need, or if you are afraid to reach out to others, then what you are feeling and going through might have an impact or effect on your bond and relationship with your baby.
Focusing on You
You are just as important as your baby is. Of course, your baby’s needs must always come first, but that does not mean that you should forget about your own needs in the process. Focusing on what you need and what you want can help you enjoy those first few months even more. When it comes to focusing on yourself, think about what you want at the start of the day or even at the end of the day. Just having five minutes with a fresh cup of coffee can give you that all-important me-time.
Focusing on Education
There is so much to learn about mental health and well-being. It is fascinating to see how your mind works and the true capabilities it has. Looking at pursuing a new line of education, or perhaps even studying for something specialised such as the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, may just give you something very positive to look forward to. When you focus on improving your own education (even as a new mum), you empower yourself, and you strive to be better all of the time, which can usually only be a positive thing.
Striving to be a Perfect Mum
Of course, striving to be better does not mean striving to be perfect. There is a lot of pressure placed on new mums, and sometimes this pressure can leave you feeling stressed and anxious. There is no such thing as a perfect mum, so it is important not to strive to be perfect because you will be left feeling disappointed. Instead of striving for perfection, you need to try and focus your efforts and attention on your baby and on yourself. Social media can put a lot of pressure on you as a new mum, and this is why it is important not to get hung up on what you see online.
Getting Out of the House
Travel and movement can sometimes be a bit limited or restricted when you have a newborn in tow. However, it is important for your physical and mental health and well-being to get out of the house when you can. Getting out of the house and getting some fresh air will give you clarity and peace of mind. Leaving your phone at home and switching off from everything (and just focusing on you and your baby) is sometimes what you need.
Embracing all Parts of Motherhood
It is true that motherhood is challenging and testing (even in those early days). However, those early days soon turn into months, and before you realise it, they have disappeared, and all you are left with is memories. Yes, motherhood is difficult, and it is tiring, but if you can, you need to try and embrace everything that it offers as much as possible. If you do not embrace all parts of motherhood, then you may experience sadness or even regret later down the line, and this is something that is hard to shake.
Self-Awareness Is Important
To look after your mental health and well-being, you have to be aware. Self-awareness of what you are going through is crucial. Spotting the warning signs and then subsequently taking action is what you need to focus on. If you are not self-aware, and if you are not in tune, then you may find it difficult to accept help or assistance (at any point). When you are self-aware, you can actively take control. When you are in control of a situation, you can then make changes as necessary.