Looking After Yourself
Having a baby is supposed to be a happy and exciting time but the reality is sometimes different and not what was expected. Adjusting to motherhood involves sudden and huge changes in your life as you get used to a new set of challenges that a baby brings. These include physical, psychological and emotional changes which if not acknowledged can lead to increasing tiredness and feelings of being overwhelmed, which, unchecked, may reduce the joys of early motherhood. To try and prevent this happening something that needs to be prioritised is self-care - how to look after yourself during this time of transition in your life.
Here are some things that you can do to help maintain well-being:
Rest as much as you can especially during the first few weeks after birth. Tiredness is known to have a negative effect on mood and chronic tiredness can lead to low mood. Prioritise rest over non-baby related tasks such as housework and non-essential tasks.
Eat well and regularly: low blood sugar also has a negative effect on mood. Try to eat as healthily as possible and avoid junk foods.
Be kind to your self: you should not try to be superwoman. Start recognising your daily accomplishments, no matter how small you think they are. Remind yourself that you are new to this role and your baby is also adjusting to their new surroundings so don’t blame yourself when you have difficult days and things are not going so well.
Accept practical offers of help.
Exercise is known to have a good effect on mental health. Try to take baby for a walk with sling or pram every day and enjoy the fresh air and connect with what is around you. Exercise is good for your fitness and can boost self-esteem. Think about returning to whatever exercise you normally enjoy or start something new e.g. yoga, pilates, running, swimming (as long as you have had your post-natal check with your GP
Talk to friends and family. Avoid becoming isolated by making contact with other mums whenever possible, this will help you to establish a support network, share experiences and gain information about local facilities.
Nurture yourself on a regular basis! Simple activities such as having a bath by candlelight, using nice body lotions, doing your hair differently, painting nails, reading a magazine, enjoying a favourite food, listening to music on your own, putting on makeup, wearing different clothes etc. will help you feel good about yourself.
Baby-free time: if the opportunity comes up, take it and don’t feel guilty. You could do something simple like trying one of the self-nurturing ideas already mentioned or try practising relaxation or get creative e.g. mindfulness colouring for adults, knitting or craft activity, playing an instrument, singing or cooking-think what activities you normally enjoy and give it a go!
Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to bottle up difficult feelings, if you can talk to your partner or those closest to you it will help them to understand, remember that it is okay not to feel okay, do talk to a health professional such as your Health Visitor or GP who can then support you and help you to access specialist help if needed.