Hi there! I’m Christina, a mom of two littles, a licensed mental health therapist, and an award-winning children’s book author! Thanks for checking out my site. Look around! I’m sure there’s something here for you! This article by Jenna Sherman at Parent-Leaders.com speaks about three tips for realistic postpartum care.
3 Tips for Realistic Postpartum Care
Feed, burp, change, nap, repeat — life with a newborn is a sleep-deprived blur. Sure, newborns sleep most of the day, but when sleep only lasts a few hours at a time, during which you’re washing dishes, loading laundry, and hauling dirty diapers to the trash to prepare for the nex feeding frenzy — well, let’s just say there’s barely time to breathe, let alone brush your hair, brew a pot of coffee, or do any of the other things that make you feel like a human and not just a
milk machine. Mix in fluctuating hormones, body image issues, and pre-existing mental health challenges, and you have a recipe for a postpartum mental health crisis.
One in five women will experience postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. PPD and PPA are more than the “baby blues” that 80% of new moms experience in the weeks after delivery. If you’re constantly plagued with worry and guilt, are struggling to concentrate, and feel like something terrible might happen, you may be experiencing a mental health problem that can be treated, so consider working with Christina.
Don’t wait for a crisis to take care of yourself
Don’t wait until you’re touched out and burnt out to make room for your own needs in these crazy newborn days. It’s only a matter of time before sleep deprivation and fraying nerves catch up with you. Self-care should be part of every new parent’s daily routine.
That’s not to say breakfast in bed and long bubble baths are on the menu as the parent of a newborn. To avoid feeling totally overwhelmed, you need to lower your expectations of what you can accomplish in a day.
3 self-care priorities for new parents
- Take care of the basics
Part of your postpartum care is going back to basics. Drink enough water, eat enough food, and get enough rest. Forget trying to sleep when the baby sleeps if your newborn sleeps in short spurts. Napping for 20 minutes at a time simply isn’t that restful. Instead, get the best sleep possible when you actually do sleep.
Lay off the caffeine, turn off your phone, and sleep in a room that’s cool, dark, and quiet. A bedside bassinet helps you get back to sleep after nighttime feedings, but room sharing with a newborn also guarantees that if your baby sleeps poorly, so do you. Don’t rule out separate bedrooms earlier than the recommended 6 months. Research shows that early independent sleepers sleep better than room-sharing infants — and so do their parents.
- Shower and get dressed
Let’s be honest: daily showers are a luxury, not a necessity. However, you do need to put on some semblance of real clothes. Changing out of your milk-stained sweats isn’t about not “letting yourself go.” It’s a daily exercise in self-love and self-acceptance.
Dressing as a new mom is all about balancing comfort, function, and fashion. Look for pieces that are easy to throw on yet look put-together. I’m a big fan of maternity jeans for postpartum support. Pull-on pants are another lifesaver when you need to look polished. Up top, look for shirts with easy nursing access and soft fabrics. Wrap tops are great, but even a well-designed t-shirt can elevate your look as a nursing mama.
- Do something for yourself
Things you like to do tend to come after things you need to do. The problem is, there’s always more to do as a new parent. Push yourself to the bottom of the priority list long enough, and it’s only a matter of time before you forget your identity outside of motherhood.
Carve out time for the things that make you feel special and schedule it to keep mom guilt at bay. This can be as simple as a quiet cup of coffee in the garden, doing postpartum yoga in your favorite fitness app, or committing an hour to your hobbies. The important thing isn’t how you spend your time, but that you spend it for you.
Self-care looks different when there’s an infant relying on you for every need. However, just because your priorities are shifting doesn’t mean that self-care should fall off the map. Remember: A cared-for parent is a happy parent, and a happy parent is a good parent. Make time for yourself, and your whole family will benefit — little one included.
Jenna Sherman is a mom of three (two girls and a boy). She hopes to help other parents acquire the skills they need to raise future leaders by providing a collection of valuable, up-to-date, authoritative resources. She created parent-leaders.com as an avenue for parents who want to make sure their children grow up to be strong, independent, successful adults.