There are few things more special than bringing your newborn home for the first time. You didn’t think you would ever be able to love anything as much as you love your baby. You’d do anything for them, absolutely anything. And even through all the lack of sleep, the nappy changes, the midnight feeding sessions and excessive crying, all you want is to be there for them and give them what they need. Which is perfectly natural as a new mother.
However, it’s also important that you take care of yourself. Many new mothers forget that they have needs too. Their lives revolve around keeping their little bundle of joy healthy and happy. And that’s what you expect from new moms. But the problem is that you can’t survive while only thinking of your baby. Eventually, you’ll be so exhausted it will affect your baby.
So, if you’re wondering how exactly you’re supposed to take care of yourself when there is a tiny human who relies on you for absolutely everything, we have a few suggestions.
Firstly, calm your “new parent nerves”… as much as you can
Do you regularly catch yourself imagining the worst case scenario? Are you convinced you’re accidentally going to drop your baby down a flight of stairs? You’re not. That’s not going to happen. Are you worried that they’ll find a way out of their cot, roll down the stairs and into the kitchen where all the sharp knives are? Relax. You have a newborn, it’s not going anywhere. Remember how your best friend was so calm after having her second baby? That’s because she realised after the first child that they’re less fragile than you originally think (that’s not to say they aren’t fragile, just not as fragile as you’re convinced they are). That’s why they call it “new parent nerves” and not just “parent nerves”. If your baby wants to tell you something, they’ll screech their lungs out to let you know.
Sleep when your baby sleeps. No excuses.
Yes, your kitchen in a mess. Your bedroom is a mess. Your lounge is a mess. In fact, it would seem there isn’t a room in your house that isn’t a mess. You also haven’t had a chance to call your friend to tell her how motherhood is going. You really want to watch one, just one, uninterrupted episode of Grey’s Anatomy. And, let’s be honest, you could definitely use a shower. All these things come to mind when your baby finally falls asleep for their afternoon nap. But you should do none of those things, you should sleep. Unless your baby is letting you actually sleep through the night, you can’t afford to waste that precious time while they’re napping. You need to rest, otherwise, you’re just going to end up frustrated, confused and overly emotional.
Give your body some love and attention
Whether you gave natural birth or had a C-section, your body has been through a lot and it deserves some love and attention. Obviously, if you’ve had a C-section or there were any complications during birth, follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to caring for your body. But once you’re up and about, you should find some time (yes, it’s possible if you get creative) to take a long, hot bath or a relaxing shower. Leave your baby with your partner and tell them you should not be disturbed unless it’s an emergency
Get out all your favourite soaps and creams and enjoy your time in the water. Your body has managed to bring life into this world and now it’s probably a little tired. Perhaps the hair on your legs has been bothering you for a while, but you finally have the time to shave. Or maybe you can’t even remember the last time you had the luxury of washing your hair. Whatever it is you’ve been neglecting, now’s the time to take care of it.
Of course, pregnancy has likely left you with stretch marks all over your body. And if you’ve had a C-section, you’ll also have a scar. Start treating these now by using a tissue oil repair cream, gel or lotion. This will help lessen the appearance of stretch marks over time.
Let someone else take over once in a while
If you have a support system, let them, well, support you. If your partner is as involved as they should be, they’ll likely also be exhausted. Even though they may not have to wake up for feeding times if you’re breastfeeding, they still wake up every time your baby cries. And they worry and stress just as much as you do. They should also be changing their fair share of dirty nappies. So, after you’ve had enough alone time with your little bundle of joy and they’re no longer a fresh-out-the-womb newborn, ask your parents, sibling or friend over to watch your baby while you do something, anything else. You can take a nap, have a shower, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, even go out for a child-free bite to eat.