In among the haze of nappies, feeding, burping and sleeping, looking after yourself can be low on the list of your daily priorities. Motherhood is a big transition and looking after a new baby is a full-time job with no days off, no instruction manual and often with very little feedback!
Taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally, is just as important as looking after your baby. Here’s our top tips for making sure your mental wellbeing stays at the top of your list:
1. Do one thing every day just for you
Maybe it’s a hot cup of coffee, reading a magazine or listening to music. Whatever brings a smile to your face, find time to do it daily.
2. Learn to say no, or at least maybe
A friend wants to catch up for coffee but you’d rather have a sleep? Just say no. Maybe you’ve accepted a request from a family member to visit your new baby but you’ve both been up all night. Call and reschedule. What you want and need matters the most, so put yourself and your baby’s needs first.
3. Leave the house
Initially, you may not feel ready to leave your house, but after a few weeks, it’s a great idea to get out and about, even if it’s just for a short time each day. Keep a nappy bag packed with everything you may need, including a snack for you, so when the weather is nice and your baby is settled you can get out the door fast.
Getting out by yourself is also great for your mental health; if you’ve got support at home try and schedule some ‘me’ time out of the house at least once or twice a week.
4. Limit your time on social media
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are great places for people to post photos that capture the good moments in life. But remember, what you are seeing is highly curated – nobody usually posts pictures of their overtired, hungry baby or during bad times. Turn off your device and focus on your own journey with your baby.
5. Find a new mum’s support network
Connect with other mums with babies of a similar age. Having someone to talk to who’s dealing with similar issues can make you feel like you’re not alone. Talk with your Plunket nurse about joining a local group.
6. Recognise the signs of postnatal depression
Postnatal depression affects a small percentage of new mums. Not everyone with depression will complain of sadness or persistent low mood. Other signs include: losing interest in usual activities, feeling worthless or guilty, anxiety and panic attacks.
Postnatal depression is a real and treatable condition so it’s important to talk with your midwife, doctor or Plunket nurse if you feel you need help. Read more about postnatal depression.
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