Taking care of yourself
It’s pretty easy to forget about yourself when you have a new baby to look after, and for some – a partner and siblings on top of that! When you are always putting others first, your own needs and priorities can fall to the bottom of the list. Parenting is hard work. It is constant work. It is so easy to stop caring for yourself or to feel overwhelmed with the constant demands of a new baby.
You must remember, in order to provide for those who depend on you, you need energy. When you stop caring for yourself, your ability to care for your child is impacted and your ability to enjoy motherhood is too.
Taking care of yourself requires thought and planning, as the demands of your baby and the day tend to take over. Even taking a few minutes each day for yourself, can help reduce feelings of stress and frustration. It can also help you to recharge and replenish yourself, allowing you to feel more patient and positive in the way that you think and feel.
Below are some suggestions on how you can start taking better care of yourself:
Allocate a window of time for you each day
The amount of time you can spare and when, will depend on your own routine and demands. It may be when the baby is asleep, or for some parents, they will set their alarm to wake and have that space and time without interruption.
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Take care of yourself physically
Eating well, exercising and resting will help to give you the energy to feel strong and rejuvenated – as opposed to drained and depleted.
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Take care of yourself mentally
This includes reducing the level of stress by not putting unrealistic demands on yourself. Having a day planned with a loose structure can enable you to experience a sense of achievement, without too much pressure. Be prepared to accept that some days nothing on the list gets done… you’ll need to be prepared to let things go for a while.
Take care of yourself emotionally
This includes acknowledging your feelings and having the opportunity to express yourself – even when you feel negative. Remember, it’s normal to feel bad sometimes when adjusting to a new baby. Also focus on the times you have positive feelings and feel good, as this can give you clues to pick-me-ups.
Take care of yourself socially
Becoming a parent can be isolating, and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Developing a support network that you can connect with, share experiences and that provide you with mental and social stimulation – can all make a big difference to (what can be) long days.
Dr Nicole Highet Follow +
Dr Nicole Highet is the Founder of COPE. As well as the Executive Director of COPE (the Centre of Perinatal Excellence). COPE is a not-for-profit organisation devoted to reducing the impacts of emotional and mental health problems in the pre and postnatal periods.
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