How to survive a new baby: part 1 – self-care
It’s difficult to know how having a new baby is going to affect you in those early months. Three things are guaranteed though: you are going to feel exhausted; you are going to be time challenged – and there are going to be moments when you are anxious about the development of the new soul you have brought into the world.
In this blog, we share some self-care tips to help you over the first two hurdles. We’ll talk about developmental milestones to look out for in another blog and share some age-specific development focussed play techniques you can use to nurture your baby’s primary reflexes and promote healthy sensory integration to give them the best possible start in life.
So, what are our top self-care tips for new mums?
Labour, birth, lack of sleep and the physical and emotional challenges of caring for a newborn baby are exhausting, so much so that it can lead to postpartum fatigue. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are seven things you can do to protect yourself.
Tip 1: Prioritise, communicate your priorities, keep your priorities
You and your baby come first. Everything else can give way to that right now. The laundry, the housework, the shopping, old routines – everything. Let your friends and family members know this. It won’t be forever, they will understand and they will want to help. And, even if you’re beginning to feel stronger, in fact, especially when you are first beginning to feel stronger, remind yourself that you and baby come first – stick to your priorities.
Tip 2: Ask for help
Ask for help when you need it. If your partner is not providing enough support, let them know. Don’t go on the attack though. They are probably tired and anxious too. Just share how you feel and point out that you’ll get better faster if they help you more.
And when your parents, in-laws, out-laws and friends ask if there is anything they can do to help – tell them. From “can you pick me up some bananas?” to “can you do my washing?” to “can you just give me some space?” don’t be afraid to ask for help.
And, if you think your exhaustion might be fatigue or depression – talk to your partner, your health visitor or GP. Early expert support can make so much difference.
Tip 3: Follow your baby’s lead
Eat when baby eats (more about this in tip 5). Sleep when baby sleeps. Yes, we know, there’s cleaning to be done, food to be prepared, friends you feel guilty about neglecting and a whole list of other ‘to-dos’. Remember tip 1 though: don’t compromise on your priorities.
Tip 4: Cheat
Not compromising on your priorities means you can cheat at just about everything. Whatever makes your life less debilitating – do it. Think online groceries. Think cleaning services. Think takeaways and frozen meals. Indeed your freezer will become your best friend for a while now, including when baby starts to wean. Freezer means instant access to fast food – which is going to be vital – but make sure that it is not unhealthy fast food. It’s now more important than ever that you eat well.
Tip 5: Eat well
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you’re going to need to keep up your energy levels. Eating a balanced diet is key. At the very least aim to include the following in your daily diet:
- 2 cups fruit
- 3 cups vegetables including leafy greens
- 8 ounces grains. Make at least half your grains whole-grains
- 6 1/2 ounces of quality protein
As mentioned in tip 3, follow your baby’s lead and eat when she or he does. Have lots of healthy snacks prepared that you can eat with one hand whilst feeding your bundle of joy. Think about food types that release quick energy, bananas, nuts, carrot sticks, mixed seeds, energy balls, whatever tickles your fancy. Have a read of our previous blog about eating for energy for more ideas.
Tip 6: Stay hydrated
You’ve already lost a lot of water during labour and dehydration can lead to constipation as well as further fatigue. Breastfeeding can lead to further dehydration too, so keep bottles of water in every room, so, no matter where you and baby are, you can grab a quick drink. Making sure you have a drink every time baby does is a good habit to develop.
Tip 7: Be prepared
As well as water in every room, grab-and-go snacks in your fridge and freezer and asking for help ‘before’ you need it, there is another important way in which being prepared can ease your experience of early parenthood. That is by preparing for what is to come next in your baby’s developmental journey. Next week our founder, Lisa Wilkinson, will share her tips on this, including how simple play and yoga-based massage can help you to help your baby reach developmental milestones appropriately and safely.
Led by Lydia Sasse, our Spring Mum and Baby Bliss Break from 4th February will give new mums time to get back on their feet in a lovely nurturing environment. Lisa will be one of the professionals providing advice to new mums. The hopsack’s Finn Murray, one of Irelands’ leading and longest established health food stores, will also be there sharing tips on nutrition (and some goody bags too).
We’ve still a few spaces left, so book now to ensure a place…