The postpartum period can be identity-altering, messy, painful, exhausting, overwhelming, imperfect, but also magical, exciting, beautiful, and amazing. Every mother and baby (and every day, for that matter) is unique, so it’s also normal if you don’t feel all of those emotions.
Having a baby is the perfect time to create a cosy cocoon (research ‘Hygge’) with your baby, and settle into the fourth trimester. This will allow you to forget about visitors for the time being, or comparing yourself to other new mums, or ‘bouncing back’ physically and emotionally after having your baby.
The most important thing you can do when caring for your baby is to care for your own mental health
Mental health wellness tips for new mums
- Expect that there won’t be a routine. Babies wake for feeds and require comfort around the clock. Try to just go with it for now, a rhythm will start to fall into place with time.
- Have a shower in the morning, or get dressed out of your pyjamas. It’s amazing how this small step can lift your mood, and bring a sense of normality.
- Put your baby in a baby carrier or pram and go for a walk around the block. Fresh air and a change of scenery can really lift your mood, even if initially it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Remember, you probably won’t see anyone, so throw on something comfortable, and take some deep breaths outdoors.
- Put your favourite music on, and have a dance party, or find some gentle postnatal yoga videos on YouTube to get your body moving at least once a day.
- Reach out to other new mums, and chat via text, phone, or video chat. Connect with family and friends, and ask for support or have a cry with someone you trust.
- Stay hydrated and eat well. A great idea is to have a water bottle beside you all day, and sip on it regularly. If you’re breastfeeding or pumping, you need to drink up to 3 litres a day, but that also includes tea and other breastfeeding-safe drinks. Ask friends and family to drop healthy meals off, or order some if you can, if you’re not up to cooking.
- Set up a little self-care ‘nest’ on the couch with a blanket, cushions, some nutritious snacks, an inspirational book or photo album, some knitting or other craft that calms you. Settle in and watch movies with some chocolate and popcorn.
- If you have a partner, factor in some time alone where they take care of the baby even for 15-30 minutes, so you can nap, have a shower, wash your hair, or sit outside with a hot chocolate. Wherever you can find a retreat to relax and do whatever calms and recharges you.
- If you have older children, you can expect there to be some behavioural issues and disruption. See ways to help your firstborn adjust to the new baby . Respond gently, they are going through more than you realise, and focus on connection and cuddles.
- Lower your expectations and standards during this time. It’s unchartered territory for all new parents so take each day as it comes – remember, tomorrow is a new day!
- Keep the news turned off, and limit social media. Instead, you might like to find or start your own mothers group. Don’t forget you have a lovely and supportive mothers group that you can ask questions anytime (even anonymously) on Newbornbaby’s Facebook page.
- Focus on today, and not worry about what tomorrow might bring. We only have the present, so forgive yourself for something you feel you didn’t handle well yesterday, and move on.
- Remind yourself that this period is temporary – the postpartum period is short and it will pass.
- Find something to laugh about every day, whether it’s your favourite comedy TV show, or cat video on YouTube, or a funny book that you can dip into when you’re feeding.
- Find a creative or long-term project to take up. Learn how to crochet and make your baby a blanket, watch a long Netflix series that you haven’t had time for previously, work on a big jigsaw puzzle, paint a picture, or put together a time capsule or photo album of this special time
- Write a list of everything you want to do when it’s time to go out again and socialise. What’s the first thing you’ll do? Who will get first cuddles with your baby?
- Reach out for help. If you aren’t coping in any way, there are plenty of free resources available to you that you can access from home, for professional advice and support for you and your baby’s health. Contact PANDA here.