Being a parent is no mean feat. In fact, in can be the biggest, most satisfying, and most nerve-wracking adventure of your life. Your life will change, you will have hormones to deal with, as well as a lack of sleep, and the physical aches and pains from being pregnant, giving birth, and breastfeeding. That is why it’s so important to look after yourself as well as Baby. But how can you do this when it seems like all of you head space and your time is taken up with looking after your little bundle of joy? Read on to find out.
An hour of me time
It might sound like a pretty tall order, once you have given birth, but an hour of me time a day can work wonders for you and baby in the long run.
This is because it gives you enough time to decompress and to relax without having all that weight of responsibility on you. You can listen to your thoughts and your body and see what your needs are.
Tempting as it will be to clean the house or get some washing done, resist if you can. Make this time all about you. Do something that you enjoy, or desperately need that will enrich your life. Don’t feel guilty about watching your favourite TV programme, or having a long bubble bath.
Of course, to do this, you need to agree on this with your partner, or others that are supporting you. Don’t feel like you are putting on them though. As it gives them a perfect chance to spend time with Baby, bonding and getting that sense of satisfaction and confidence that they can cope and enjoy the experience too.
Make life easier
Another way that you can ensure that you look after yourself while you look after the baby is to put in place some things that cater to your well being. Things like using an insulated mug when you are feeding Baby, so you drink don’t constantly go cold. Or have a favourite book, or movie downloaded on your Kindle to watch while you feed, so you don’t get bored.
It can also include investing in other gadgets that will make your life a lot easier. Things like a car seat that rotates is a great idea. As then you don’t have to go through all of that rigmarole to fit a baby in the seat, which can often exacerbate problems with you back. Something you may notice you are getting a lot of as since your have been pregnant or given birth.
Get some rest
Of course, everyone associates having a baby with not getting much sleep. That is an unfortunate fact that you will have to come to term with. As either now, or later baby is going to have some restless nights.
However, there is no need to make it harder for yourself than you need to. That means if you are already wondering when to get a new bed, then now is probably the time. A more comfortable bed and mattress can make all the difference once you have given birth. As then the precious little sleep, you do get is better protected.
Of course, different sleeping situations work for different families. You may choose co-sleep with the baby in the same bed. But, it is more sensible to use a side cot to do this, than have the baby in the middle of you both. Or you may decide that you and your partner will sleep separately, taking it in turns to feed baby in the night. Allowing the other to get some much-needed rest and recuperation.
You may even decide to let the baby have their own room right from the get-go. If this is the case remember to install a baby monitor to help you keep an eye on them. So you can make sure that they are sleeping soundly.
Get some help
Next, on the list of ways to look after you and well as Baby is to request help. Do it often and don’t be embarrassed about it. Yes, you have had them in your belly for nine months, but the best thing about when they actually come along is that you don’t have to be tied to them 24 hours a day.
I know it can feel like that sometimes, especially if you are breastfeeding. But there are options that will allow you to step away and take a little time for your own recovery and mental wellbeing.
These could include switching to bottle feeding or expressing your milk using a pump. So Baby can be fed by someone else, and you can have a break or a night of unbroken sleep.
Another way that you can welcome some help into your life is to hire a professional cleaner. This can be so helpful when you are dealing with a newborn, as its stops you feeling under pressure to keep the house immaculate.
Some people see this as a bit of a luxury, but if you are in a position to make things easier on yourself, you should. Being a mum is hard enough as it is. You really need to do everything you can to lighten the load. Other people’s opinions be damned!
Enjoy Baby and you time
Remember too that a little time away can really enhance the time you and Baby do spend together. But don’t feel like you always need to be doing something like cleaning or washing. In fact, it’s totally fine to just enjoy spending time with your little one without running yourself ragged.
Take time for a cuddle when feeding, and smell that amazing new baby scent. Why not choose a favourite book from your own childhood and read to Baby? Something that can be very soothing for both of you.
Or you can even select some relaxing music like Mozart, ambient, or even white noise. As that will have the effect on soothing you both, and making your bonding time even more relaxed and enjoyable.
Remember bonding with baby is something that is important for each parent and can make the whole process of a child reading a lot more enjoyable and less difficult.
Go out without baby
So this next piece of advice may be a little challenging to a new mum, and that’s OK. You don’t have to do it all in one go. You can stagger it, so you and Baby are most comfortable.
But why go out without your new arrival at all? Well, it is something that you will have to do at some time or another, and putting it off and worrying about it can create unnecessary anxiety. It can also put a big strain on your relationship with your partner if you can’t get some time out of the house together on your own.
So now we know the why, the next question is of course: how? Start small. Don’t go for a whole day out. As this is likely to be distressing for you and for Baby. Which is the exact opposite of the what you are trying to do.
Maybe leave Baby with dad, or your mum while you go to the shops for 30 mins? The built it up to an hour, and so on. Until you feel confident that the people you are leaving the baby with can cope if any emergencies happen, and that you feel you can cope without them being on your mind constantly.
Then when you do get the offer of the odd day out, you can attend it with peace of mind, and not worry unnecessarily. Something that can really ruin your day.
Make time for the little things
Lastly, to look after yourself as best you can it’s a good idea to take care of some of the little things that you know you will need to be at your happiest.
First of all, ensure that you have some of your favourite non-alcoholic beverages in when you’re breastfeeding. As well as plenty of milk products as you will need the calcium. If you are allergic to milk or lactose, you may want to try cow’s milk alternative such as almond and soy milk.
Also, ensure that you have some outfits that you are happy to wear out of the house. This may seem silly, but may women struggle with their body image during and after pregnancy. So having some clothes that you feel good in can make all the difference to your emotional well being.
It’s also nice to have that pressure to lose the baby weight as soon as they are born off of you. Remember, you have just been through a very emotional a physical experience, you don’t need to diet straight away. In fact, this can be bad for both you and Baby.
Also, take an hour once a month to pop and get you hair or nails done. Yes, it might seem a little frivolous when there is a pile of washing in the corner 7ft high, but it actually isn’t. By taking care of yourself you are giving yourself the message that you matter, and this perspective can help you be more loving and compassionate to yourself in other ways too.