A new mum knows that while it is one of the most exciting times, it is also quite challenging. However, there are survival tips to help you keep your sanity. World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.
According to WHO, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people realize their own potential, can cope with normal life stresses, can work productively, and can contribute to their community. A mentally unstable person is of no use to themself, the people around them and the society at large.
The focus of World Mental Health Da for us is “How to keep your sanity as a New Mum”. Being a new parent is amazing, exciting, exhausting, and overwhelming. It feels like you are being thrown into a maze, and you are constantly trying to find your way. The first few weeks with your newborn can be very difficult, as you try to learn and adjust to being a mother and a wife.
Here are 10 survival tips to keep your sanity as a New Mum
1. Accept Help
It’s okay to accept help from friends and family that offer. Do not feel like if you do, that makes you an incompetent mother; it doesn’t!. You just pulled through a great feat of carrying and giving birth to an actual tiny human being! You are wonder woman! But even wonder woman sometimes needs help, and so do you. It is essential that you let others help you so that you can take little breaks to look after yourself and relax.
2. Eat well
Eating well during pregnancy is important but postnatal bodies need special nourishment too, especially during the breastfeeding stage. If you are feeding or expressing you might also find your appetite increases quite significantly because your baby is sucking nutrients out of you. As a new mum, you need special care and really good nutrition to help your body heal and to support a good milk supply. A great way to ensure you eat well after birth is to pre-make and freeze some hearty and healthy meals.
3. Sleep whenever your baby does
Most times when your baby falls asleep, you see it as an opportunity to do some chores and get some work done. But before you know it, your baby is awake again and needs your attention. Meanwhile, you would have lost the chance to take a little nap and now you are basically awake through the night. You getting a decent amount of sleep in the early days should be your number one priority. You are no good to nobody if you are exhausted! Accept that a few months of sleeplessness is inevitable, and give yourself and your baby a chance to find your own natural rhythm, but always look for opportunities to rest or be still.
4. Get some fresh air
A quick walk can do wonders for your peace of mind and sanity. Often it also has the added benefit of encouraging your baby to finally nod off to sleep, in which case – quickly, refer to my last point and rush home to sleep!
5. Do what feels right for you
From the moment your baby is born, there will be an onslaught of unsolicited advice from people who mean well, but think that there’s a certain way you should handle your baby. There would be opinions on whether you should co-sleep or cot sleep? breastfeed or bottle-feed? sleep train or soothe?. Do not try too hard to do what others think is the “best thing” for your baby. Mothers are great at supporting each other, but ultimately only you know what is best for you and your baby. Follow your heart.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others
Don’t worry about how quickly that celebrity mum lost all her baby weight or how the mum next door seems to have everything going perfectly for her. We’re all on our own journey and comparing yourself to others will only make you lose your sanity!. Nobody knows the truth behind an apparently perfect life, so instead, focus your energy on the stuff that really matters. Like how healthy your baby is, or that matching outfit you always wanted to get for you and your baby.
7. Make time for you
This may seem like an unrealistic point right now, but it is essential that you make out time for yourself. You’ve just achieved this miracle of birth and your heart could possibly spontaneously burst at any given moment over the pure and unbridled joy your baby has brought into your life. You spend ALL your time feeding, bathing, changing, settling, burping, cuddling, ogling, swaddling this little baby, and that’s obviously important stuff, but it’s also vital to retain your sense of self. Whether it’s as simple as sitting down and enjoying a hot cup of tea, watching an episode of your favourite tv show, or relax while Daddy is on duty. It is important not to forget that mums need to be nurtured too.
8. Do some gentle exercises
Gentle postnatal exercise has shown to help restore muscle strength, improve your energy levels and sense of well-being and even help prevent postnatal depression. Before embarking on any crazy training regime, get the all-clear from your doctor and start slow. Choose something you enjoy and don’t push yourself too hard – take a walk to the supermarket, do some gentle stretching in your living room or enrol in a new mums exercise class. Just moving will get those endorphins flowing and make you feel good.
9. Enjoy the precious early moments
The life of a new mum is seldom glamorous. In fact, it can be gruelling, tiresome and even lonely at times. But Funnily enough, though, when that your baby locks eyes on yours, or smiles at you, or laughs, or rolls over, or crawls, or walks, or farts or pretty much does anything for the next 20 years, everything is worth it. It is the toughest and most rewarding job you’ll ever have and a love affair like no other. In the continuum of your life, your baby will only be this tiny and helpless for a millisecond and you won’t realize how short that time is until it has passed. Key message: enjoy the precious early moments. They are all too fleeting.
10. Cut yourself some slack
Yes, your newborn son will pee on his face (and/ or yours) despite your best efforts to prevent this from happening. And at some point, you will find yourself somewhere far from home and your child has pooped but you forgot the diaper bag at home!. And yes, you will do something like inadvertently locking your keys in the car because you are that tired. But guess what? So has every other parent. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This parenting thing is a work in progress. And I promise you are doing great.
As a New Mum, try as hard as possible to always have a grip on your sanity. [Tweet “It is important because you are no use to your baby when you break down or get depressed. Rest, Eat, Exercise, and generally enjoy your move into Motherhood!”]
SEE ALSO: 5 Myths New Mums Believe