New mothers can experience a range of emotions after giving birth, from euphoria to unhappiness. What should be one of the happiest times in your life can easily become one of the most miserable. This is because new mothers often feel like they can’t – or shouldn’t – take care of themselves. This is not only untrue but can be dangerous. If you are healthy, you will be able to better take care of a baby than if you are exhausted and struggling. Therefore, I’ve put together some tips on how to take care of yourself and your baby.
1. Rely on the people around you
The baby is entirely dependent on you, the mother, for the first several years of his or her life. You are responsible for another life. So, it’s only fair that if the baby relies on you then you should rely on help from other people. Whether it be your partner, your family, or your friends, it is important to ask for and accept help when you need it. It does not make you a bad mom, it makes you a human. If you can afford it, you can also get professional help, such as the new motherhood package at Mama Glow.
2. Spend time outside of the house
Many new mothers rarely go outside of the house in the first few months of their child’s birth. This isn’t healthy. You don’t have to go out to lunch or go shopping if you don’t feel up to it. Something as simple as taking a walk around the block can work wonders for your mental health.
3. Get adequate sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things a new mother can do to stay healthy and keep her sanity. It sounds simple but in reality, when the baby sleeps, mothers often feel the need to catch up on chores, such as cleaning and cooking. Don’t do it. With a new baby, sleep is precious so try your best to sleep when your baby sleeps. It is ok if your house is not clean for a while. The most important thing is for you to take care of yourself.
4. Spend time with your partner
Many new mothers become engrossed in their new baby once it arrives, and while that’s great, you often forget other important things in your life, such as your partner. Spending alone time with your partner is not only good for your mental health and your relationship, but it will help you appreciate your baby more when you spend some time away from it.
5. Get professional support
You wouldn’t hesitate to take your baby to the pediatrician if they are sick. The same principle goes for you. According to CDC research, approximately 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. If you believe yourself to be one of them, you should go to your family doctor who can recommend medication and/or therapists to help you work through many of the problems faced by new mothers. Think of mental health as any other disease, and just like other diseases, there are many signs (and symptoms) that are indicative that you are suffering. You wouldn’t think twice about taking antibiotics if you have an infection, just like you shouldn’t worry about taking medication for postpartum depression. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you think you need therapy, especially during this time of a global pandemic and social unrest.
6. Know you are not alone
Millions of mothers every day are going through the same thing you are. It might help you to connect with them through mommy groups in your area. If not, there are many online forums where mother shares their experiences and problems that they are going through. Join one of them!
7. Know there are professionals waiting to support you if are struggling with your postpartum body
Having a baby takes a huge toll on your body, often leaving new mothers extremely self-conscious about the way their body looks and feels after. Your post-partum body is nothing to be ashamed of. Your body has literally spent the last nine months cultivating a human being, which is a miracle. However, if you feel like you are having trouble feeling confident again or experiencing extreme discomfort and you don’t think it will improve, then you can consider some of the incredible practitioners that are out there for new mothers. From pelvic floor therapists to surgeons, there are treatments, physical therapy options and procedures that are available for new mothers and birthing people. For example, urinary incontinence (urine leaking when you laugh or cough) can be fixed with pelvic floor therapy or reconstructive vaginoplasty.
At the end of the day, only you know what your body needs. Listen to it. If it’s telling you to get more sleep, then have a loved one watch your baby while you catch up on sleep. If it’s telling you that you are unhappy, then get help from a doctor or a therapist. The important thing is for you to be happy and healthy.
Dr. Ammar Mahmoud is a board eligible gynecologist and highly trained cosmetic surgeon specializing in cosmetic and functional gynecological medicine.