Babying Yourself After Having a Baby
Congratulations! You’ve just endured the great challenge of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. Your prize? A beautiful bundle of joy—and the even greater challenge of figuring out how to take care of it while recovering from the brutality your body went through. The first six weeks after delivering will definitely be one of the toughest you will ever face, filled with raging hormones, an aching body, little sleep, and a crying, needy baby. That is why it is so important to take care of yourself in this time. Your health and happiness is of utmost importance, because when mom is healthy and happy, baby is too.
You might have been the most organized and on-top-of-things women before your child, but right now is not the time to be that women. Put aside your housework and cooking for a while (or hand it off to someone else) and focus on yourself and your baby. Remember, you’re in a recovery period, so cut yourself some slack. The housework can wait, but your baby won’t be a newborn forever. You’ve heard all your friends with kids say “they grow up so fast”; you will soon discover it’s true. Take all the time you can to bond with your baby. Commend yourself on a job well done bringing a baby into the world, and as long as he or she is taken care of, you’ve done a full day’s work.
Remember that raising a baby is not a job meant for one person. You cannot do it alone, and you shouldn’t try, especially now. Reach out to family members, friends, or your partner for help (many times you won’t even have to ask). Let them take care of the housework, cooking, or shopping. They can lend a hand in raising your baby, too. Even if you’re nursing, they can still help with diapering, burping, or bathing. If you feel guilty relying on other people, you can always return the favor when you’re feeling better and they are the ones with a newborn!
It may sound strange to you, but making a conscious effort to make ‘me’ time for yourself is very important in this time. Taking care of yourself makes you happier and you are more likely to do a better job taking care of your baby. Repeat this phrase to yourself now and any time you ever feel guilty about taking time for yourself. After your baby (finally) gets to sleep, designate that time for yourself. Relax and read a book, watch your favorite show, anything you enjoy. If your friend/family member/partner offers to watch the baby for any amount of time, take them up on their offer. Even if it’s only for a short period of time, taking a shower or just sitting listening to music can be surprisingly relaxing and rejuvenate you for another day of baby care. As much as you can, make a point to shower and dress every day—nobody feels happy or confident when they’re grungy. Taking simple measures like these can also help fight postpartum depression.
I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s very important during the first six weeks: nap when the baby naps. “But there’s so much to do, and whenever the baby is sleeping is the best time to do it!” you may object. However your sleep is more important. Taking a twenty minute power nap can turn your whole day around, and usually babies nap for much longer than this, so you can still get a few things done. Taking a nap longer than twenty or thirty minutes can leave you feeling groggy anyway.
Most important during this time is to respect your body. Remember what it’s done, and every time you look at the face of your little one you will learn to appreciate it more and more. Take any medication your doctor prescribed to you, do not lift anything heavy, eat right as much as you can, and stay hydrated. Try to go on a walk with your baby often to get your endorphins flowing, but remember not to do any strenuous exercise until you get your doctor’s okay!
Though you might feel like hell, remember to cherish this time spent with your child. This is the start of your brand new life, and it’s important you keep your sanity through this transition!