Becoming a parent, especially for the first time is a massive time of change in all aspects of your life. All of this change as well as fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation can put you more at risk of mental health challenges.
Try These Tips
Lower your usual expectations about what you would like to achieve each day.
Write a list of 5 to 7 small tasks (have a shower, playtime with baby) that you would like to achieve and tick them off to gain a sense of accomplishment.
If possible, try to shower first thing in the morning, and get dressed and prepared for the day.
Plan your week to include time out visiting family and friends as well as time at home.
Take your baby for a walk in the pram 3 or 4 times a week. This will help you and your baby to get some fresh air and exercise. This will also help reduce that feeling of being trapped in the house all day. You may even be able to arrange to meet a friend and walk together.
Organise a basic menu plan and shop once a week, this will help you to feel more in control especially towards the end of the day when you and baby are getting tired. You may even be able to prepare parts of the meal during the day or use a slow cooker to assist.
Sit down and rest as often as you can, especially in the weeks following the birth.
Try to take some time out for yourself at least once a week where your partner or family care for your baby and you can have some ‘me time’. This may be just going to the local coffee shop and reading a book. Even time away for 30 minutes can assist your mood and overall wellbeing.
Consider learning and practicing some form of mindfulness or relaxation strategies. There is considerable evidence that practicing mindfulness regularly, improves our wellbeing, physical and mental health.
Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling, be honest as sharing these feelings can really help. Make sure to check in on them too.
No one expects of you what you are probably expecting of yourself. Keeping up with your usual routines and having a tidy house is just not realistic with a new baby. Use extra time to catch up on sleep or take some time out. Accept all offers of help, people genuinely want to help you.
Most of all be kind to yourself and ask for help if you don’t feel like yourself or your mood has been low for more than a few days.
Belinda Joyce is a midwife, maternal & child health nurse and author of 'Survive and Enjoy Your Baby'. Throughout her 20 years of experience, her passion is in providing safe, non-judgemental, evidence-based advice & options to parents so they can find their own path to parenthood. She has a wealth of knowledge, not just professionally, but also personally, as she is mum to 4 kids of her own.