When becoming a new parent, it’s not uncommon to wish to do everything and anything for your baby. You want to be the best parent in the world, and to give everything you can to the effort.
When you’re in your pregnancy term, people will often say to you that now you are ‘eating for two!’ and keeping good care of yourself is essential to ensure the baby develops well in the womb. But when the baby is born, it’s often tempting to forget this need for self-care.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you lose your personal hygiene or become lazy, or anything to that degree. But it is quite easy for the lack of sleep and new sense of urgency in life to take plenty from you, and as such, it’s a shame that the self-care we used to employ seems to be a second purpose.
When becoming a new parent, you are caring for two (or maybe more depending on the number of children you have). The point is, when you have become a new parent or even a parent once more, you need to ensure you look after yourself as well. Here are a few things to try and ensure you stay on top off.
Advising you to get enough sleep might seem like the most obvious thing in the world. ‘If only it was that simple,’ you’re likely to be thinking in this very moment. Of course, we’re not here to intelligently dismantle that first ideal, as if you wouldn’t be taking extra sleep the first opportunity you get.
But what you can do is try to improve your sleep quality during the hours that you do get. Of course, a good first instance is to swap shifts with your spouse. This at least guarantees one a good night of sleep every other day, especially if they utilise earplugs to avoid interruption from you getting up multiple times in the night to settling a crying baby.
This can be a bit trickier if you’re breastfeeding, and if this is the case, just try to ensure you have a block during the day when you can get some rest.
But even if you don’t have a partner with which to rely on in this capacity, it can be important to ensure your sleeping environment is well considered. For example, it might be that you notice your bedsheets are relatively old, or perhaps your mattress is damaged. Think of your surroundings and what is needed to help you get a better nights sleep, or even what can help during the day if you get some time for nap.
Trying to get your body and mind in a state of relaxation is half the battle (although, with a newborn it’s hard to get into a true state of relaxation). Some things to consider include a bath or shower before you go to bed, finding some books to read or making a playlist that you can just relax to. Whatever works for you, just try to find something that will help you rest and get some much needed zzz’s when you can.
When it comes to your own sleep as a new parent it really is all about the quality. Chances are you’re going to have less sleep than before you were a parent, and in some cases you could be surviving on minimal hours, so the key is trying to make sure you don’t have a broken and disturbed sleep. Find out what works to ensure you get as good a sleep as you can, and just ensure you have someone on board to help with the wee one when the quantity of sleep starts to impact on the quality.
Of course, we absolutely care for the nutritional intake of our baby. We want to feed them at the right times, and if breastfeeding is not an option, research the best brands of formula, and make the transition to food roughage appropriately as they reach the right age.
Of course, we might not be as sensitive in our bodies as our baby, but nutritional importance should also be reflected in our lives. For example, it might often be the case that a lack of essential vitamins and minerals not only leaves you feeling less healthy than you might have been, but if breastfeeding you might also leave your child wanting.
Eating a fibrous, healthy and balanced diet. Eat plenty of leafy, green vegetables. Drink plenty of water each and every day, around 2L-3L. Switch out to healthy snacks, such as opting for nuts instead of potato chips with your lunch. Eat more fruit.
Calories are important when you’re a new parent, especially if you are breastfeeding. It’s important you have energy to keep you on the go throughout the day because looking after an infant and then a toddler can be tiring work.
You can use quick and easy apps such as MyFitnessPal to calculate your caloric intake throughout the day, to ensure that everything is up to scratch. This will not only help you feel more attentive to your child and better in your body, but a good diet has been proven to help with your longevity, worthwhile sleep, and a better impact for the exercise you do conduct.
It’s essential to be aware of your own mind, and how it might be affected by the pressures of parenthood. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see, but some women do suffer from postpartum depression, and this needs professional help to see you through.
If you have no one to speak to about your worries and fears, you can also feel extremely isolated and unhappy. For that reason, at least having one friend you can talk to, even if this is a sibling or family member, can be a massive help for your stress levels.
A simple 10 minute morning meditation and light stretch will often wake you up for the day also, and give you the tools to feel much more present in yourself. It’s not hard to see how these small elements of self-care can help your mindset be a little more resilient through the day.
Also, don’t be afraid to give yourself credit for looking after your baby well. This can help you feel connected and loved in the parental role, and despite all of the tasks you must fulfill you will likely start to love doing them.
Got Something to Add?
Do you have any tips to add when it comes to looking after yourself when you’ve got an infant, toddler or child to care for? Share them in the comments section below.