Guest blogger: Julia Merrill
Having your first child is an intense and exciting time. However, between midnight feedings and diaper changes, there’s little time for anything else. But you mustn’t forget to care for yourself while you care for your bouncing bundle of joy.
Here are five ways to keep your own health and sanity intact.
While babies sleep, according to Parents, for up to 17 hours each day/night, it can seem as though they are awake at all hours. Infants only sleep for short periods of time before hunger takes over. You, on the other hand, need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep for optimum health. This may not be feasible in the first few months of your baby’s life, but try to focus on making your bedroom as comfortable and relaxing as possible. If you are breastfeeding, you may find that co-sleeping is an option.
Reduce Stress at Home
Your home’s environment plays a major role in your everyday stress levels. But you can do things to keep that sink full of dishes from becoming a source of unrest. Start by adding extra storage in the kitchen and planning and preparing meals ahead of time. Keep in mind that clutter is a major source of stress, so anything you can do to prevent it will make your home more inviting. HomeAdvisor’s room by room stress reduction tips offers additional ideas.
Eat Right but Don’t Be Afraid to Indulge
You already know that you should eat a balanced diet, but you may not realize that having a baby may necessitate changes to your dietary habits. If you are breastfeeding, you will need intake additional calories in order to compensate for the added energy your body uses nourishing your infant. Even if you aren’t nursing, it’s accepted that a woman’s body remains nutritionally depleted for up to 12 months after birth. Talk to your doctor to find out how many calories you should consume and be sure to eat on a regular schedule. Even though your focus should be on fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, you can still indulge with a few sweet treats every now and then without causing adverse effects to yourself or your child. Eat This, Not That notes that even chocolate – specifically dark chocolate – can be a healthy addition to your diet.
Use Your Time Wisely
The first few months after having a new baby can be isolating. This can take a toll on your mental health and even lead to postpartum depression. But if you use your time wisely, you can do things to socialize even while you breastfeed. Use this time to catch up with your girlfriends, talk to your spouse, or scroll through social media to stay connected with your friends and family. Breastfeeding is also a great time to listen to an audiobook or grab a snack for yourself.
Split Parenting Duties Strategically
Many new moms believe it is their responsibility to do it all: cook, clean, care for children, and continue to work. And while these are admirable goals, keep in mind that your spouse or partner has just as much responsibility as you do to ensure these things are done. Take the time to list your responsibilities and needs along with your baby’s needs and discuss with your significant other which chores make the most sense for each of you to complete. You might find that your spouse is open to cooking dinner while your baby naps, which will allow you to take a stress-soothing bath during the downtime.
Once you have a baby, your daily schedule will change. It may be years before you can get back to your “normal” routine. However, if you consciously make an effort to prioritize sensible self-care, you -- and your baby -- will be healthier and happier.