Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone joked that there would be a COVID baby boom, but we ended up having a baby bust instead. However, there are still plenty of new mommas in the world who are navigating how to care for their little ones and maintain their own sanity. While every new mom gets plenty of advice on how to take care of their babies, they don’t get enough advice about how to take care of themselves too.
When I had my son, I was clueless. I had a Caesarean-section, so I was recovering from surgery as well. When you have a C-section, you face the daunting task of caring for a baby as your body recovers from one of the most physically traumatic experiences that it will ever face. Luckily, I had a support system that helped me learn quite a bit along the way.
The “postpartum” period is typically the first six weeks with your new baby. This can be a joyful time, but you may also experience other emotions too. Here are my tips and tricks for taking care of yourself as a new mom.
Adjusting To Life As A Mom
One minute, you can’t see your feet over your stomach, and the next, a doctor places your baby in your arms, and you’re a mom. Most moms take the first six weeks off of work (more or less depending on your economic ability) to heal and bond with their babies.
The first shock to your system will be how little sleep you’ll get. Babies sleep upwards of 16 hours a day, but it won’t seem like it, and that’s OK. Babies wake every two to three hours to feed too. So forget cleaning, skip the shower, and sleep when your baby sleeps.
Asking For And Accepting Help
Friends and family may reach out to help you during this time. It’s tempting to do it all on your own, but don’t try to be supermom. It’s hard to accept help, but it’s better than wearing yourself down. So let your mother-in-law watch the baby for an hour while you nap. Ask your partner to make dinner. And when your best friend offers to pick up your dry cleaning, let her.
Eating Healthy(ish) Food
It’s so tempting to grab the quickest food you can find when you’re caring for a new baby. You’re starving, and that bag of chips is within arms’ reach! However, as tasty as chips are, they won’t give you the nutrition that your body needs right now. Eat whole grains, veggies, fruits, and protein along with some carbs. If you opted to breast-feed, hydrate your body. But still let yourself have the occasional cookie – you earned it, momma!
After your medical provider clears you to work out, exercise. I know that you’re tired, but I promise that a little bit of movement can make a world of difference. Walk around the neighborhood or local park with your newborn. The fresh air and sunshine are truly a balm for the body and soul.
If Having A Baby Isn’t So Joyful After All
First and foremost, the “baby blues” are totally normal! Most new moms experience negative emotions after giving birth. If your baby blues last more than two weeks, though, you may have postpartum depression (PPD). Symptoms can include depressed mood, difficulty bonding with your baby, fatigue, and excessive crying. This can happen days or weeks after having the baby due to hormone changes. If you have symptoms of PPD, see your doctor for treatment options.
Giving birth is a miraculous experience. You literally created life, which is kind of a big deal! The best way to truly care for yourself during this period is to celebrate yourself. Some days will be harder than others, but you’ll adjust to mom life and be a great parent. All of your hormones will eventually settle down, and you’ll feel like “you” again. I promise, momma, it gets better!