Post Baby Wellness: New Mom Mental Health Shape-Up
Congratulations! You’ve brought your bundle of joy home. You could not be more excited about your new addition to the family, but you are less than thrilled with your body and can’t wait to get your pre-baby body back. While you’ve got the best intentions, you’re very concerned with the variables that will factor into what you can do now that you have this new bundle of joy to care for.
You’ll read lots of stories about “5 quick moves to get your body back” or “Post Pregnancy workout”…there are literally hundreds. While I believe in them all, working out is not the first thing you are thinking about when you get home with your new child. You are feeling overwhelmed with all the new responsibilities and changes to your life. You don’t need a body shape-up. Not yet. You need a mental health shape-up.
Right after having a baby, the first thing you need to “workout” is your mind, insofar as you need to manage stress, understand how this new baby will fit into and adjust to the life you had previous to him or her, and focus on maintaining a happy marriage.
Easier said than done? Maybe not.
Here’s Five Simple Steps to Post Baby Optimal Mental Health
- Take It One Day at a Time
Don’t beat yourself up. Taking care of a new baby – whether it is your first, second or third – is life–altering. Even though you’ve planned for months and months, something will slip through the cracks. Don’t expect things to be perfect. Keep in mind, perfect is the enemy of good and being good enough is really a huge achievement. When things seem completely out of control, take a minute to do some breathing exercises. Tell yourself there is always another day to do some of those chores that need to get done. Try not to think too much about the future by living in the moment. Enjoy the here and now and don’t stress about getting all things done. Everything will get done when it is meant to get done and, even if it doesn’t, the world won’t end.
- Ask for Help
You may not have been the ‘ask for help’ type prior to the baby, but things are different now. Any form of help will assist you in getting to a healthier state of mind. If your mom wants to play with the baby for an hour, let her. Take that hour to do something for yourself. If your friends are asking what they can do to help, don’t be too shy to ask them to come over and help do some laundry. Really. If they want to help, let them. If your neighbor stops by and says call me when you need a hand, call! Don’t be shy.
- Get Sleep Often and Shower Daily
You’ll need all the sleep you can get, especially if you are breast feeding (which I highly recommend for both your health and the babies). When the baby sleeps, you sleep – even if there is work to be done. Refer to Point 1 and 2. Baby is sleeping. You are sleeping. Don’t push yourself to stay awake when you physically feel you cannot. You won’t be any help to anyone, especially the baby. When you have that feeling of overwhelming exhaustion, ask for help (Point 2) and take a power nap. While showering daily will seem like a herculean effort on some days, it is important for you to make the effort. You must maintain your life too and that means caring for yourself. Something as little as running hot water over your body is very therapeutic and will help your mind, body and soul. Take the time to shower. Don’t worry about doing your hair and makeup (maybe sometimes), but get dressed so you can start feeling like yourself.
- Cook and Eat Right
you are busy enough with all these new responsibilities, cooking is likely the last thing you want to do. However, to ensure good health, you’ll want to invest the time. If you are breastfeeding, you want to make sure you are eating well and getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need so the baby in turn can get what he or she needs. Instead of cooking every night when you don’t know what unexpected event may happen that day, invite the parents, in-laws, or both over on the weekend. Ask them to take over baby duties (Point 2) and do meal prep with your significant other. This can turn into a lot of fun for you both. Start with a trip to the food store. When you get home, cook together, try new things and then package your meals so you are set for the week. You’ll feel good all week knowing you have healthy food to eat that can easily be cooked.
With a baby, your priorities will inevitably shift a bit. That’s okay. Having a baby is not the only life event that causes us to re-prioritize what’s important. It’s called “adulting” and we all hate it. It happens when we get married, buy a house or change jobs. Speaking of which, within three months (for most people) you will be preparing to go back to work. The biggest prioritization once you have a baby is transitioning back to work realizing you are a different person than when you left to go have a baby. You may not be able to put in late nights or early mornings anymore. You may have to leave for various appointments. That’s okay because your priorities have shifted. Make sure you write down what matters most and rank your priorities so you can look at that list when you feel stressed out. If you are prioritizing the right things, don’t stress yourself. Know the other stuff is not as important anymore.
When you feel you are mentally in a good place, you can begin focusing on that post baby wellness.
Check back for my next blog where I introduce great exercises to blast the Mom Bod.
Remember to have fun and celebrate life!