Having a new baby is a thrilling experience, but it's also an exhausting one. Use these self care tips to help you get through the early days as a new mom:
A new baby is the culmination of months of expectation and anticipation. Holding your newborn baby is one of the most thrilling experiences you'll ever have, but when the euphoria wears off, most new moms discover just how exhausting it is to care for a newborn. While the investment of your time, and the sleep you lose, is worth it in the long run, you can ease your transition into motherhood with the following self care tips.
First, plan to have helpers in the first 6 to 8 weeks. Many new moms only arrange for help in the first week or two, but you'll need more time to recover and learn how to establish a routine with your baby. See if your hubby can get more time off, have your mother visit you for an extended stay, or hire a postpartum doula or mother's helper to assist you in the short term.
Don't be shy about accepting help. Assume that the person really means it when they say "if there's anything I can do, let me know". Be specific; perhaps you can enlist the help of family, friends, or church members in bringing meals, folding laundry, or sitting with the baby for a couple of hours so you can get some much needed rest.
Another important self care strategy is to stock up on comfort items before the baby arrives. Snacks, and particularly drinks, like bottled waters, juices, spritzers, and teas are especially important for breastfeeding moms. Keep on hand some comfy, seasonally appropriate clothes in a size or two larger than your pre-pregnancy size. Remember that it will take some time before your belly flattens and you fit into your old clothes.
You'll also be able to take better care of yourself if you organize your living space in advance, and make it easy to access every day supplies. The more you standardize the chores of daily living, the less time you'll need to get them done. Let go of your need to have a perfectly clean home; nap when baby naps, rest when you need to, and understand that the intense, high-need newborn stage will soon pass.
Don't abandon your needs and interests. Good self care involves making sure you maintain some contact with the outside world. At a very minimum, make sure you have the time to take a shower each day and attend to your own grooming. This time on your own may seem trivial, but it can work wonders for your mood and motivation.
Develop a parenting style that works for you. If the experts tell you to do one thing, but you find that something else works best, then do what works for your family. For example, co-sleeping is great if it helps you and baby get a better night's sleep. On the other hand, if both of you sleep better with a bit of space between you, then it's fine for him to sleep in a crib or bassinet. Do what works for you.
Above all, remember that you don't have to be perfect. No one was ever raised by the perfect parents, and most of us turned out just fine. Let go of the need to do everything just right. You will inevitably make mistakes, and remember that your child's needs won't always be this intense. By planning ahead for your post-partum self care needs, you can make the transition to motherhood as seamless as possible.