The first months with your baby can be some of the most beautiful months of your life; they can also be some of the most overwhelming. Your new baby is both adorable and demanding, and while you’re falling madly in love with your tiny new person, it can be easy to forget that you need taking care of too.
“Between the shock of caring for a newborn, the lack of sleep, and the recovery from the birth, self-care is often the first thing new parents push aside,” postnatal and early parenting specialist, Karina Lane, confirms.
But Karina says that while it may feel like you have no time for yourself, self-care during the early days is possible; even if it’s just in small bursts. It needs to be a priority, Karina emphasises, “Because becoming run-down will only make each day tougher to get through.”
Here are her tips for surviving (and thriving!) in the early days of parenthood.
1. Focus on the small things
Between the needs of the baby and catching up on your own much-needed sleep, it can feel impossible to carve out any time for yourself at all. But Karina points out that it’s the little things like sleeping when your baby sleeps, that are now part of the choices you can make, to take of yourself during this time.
Self-care at this time looks different than it used to, so consider other small things like; having an uninterrupted cup of tea or a nutritious snack, taking a shower, or going on a walk or an outing to the shops. These are all simple ways you can look after yourself. And while many new mums can fall into a spiral of negative self-talk, Karina says it’s worth trying to maintain positive self-talk and treat yourself kindly. And on the topic of talk …
2. Talk to your partner
It’s important to talk to your partner, Karina explains, “so you both know what the other needs.” For both of you, the changes a new baby brings are huge. You’re more tired than ever, and it may feel easier to just get on with things rather than taking a moment to talk. But communicating is crucial so that you both know how the other is faring, and don’t fall into patterns that may do a disservice to you both.
Communicating also opens up ways to help. Even if you’re the breastfeeding parent, there are real ways your partner can help you; from getting up with your baby at night for resettling, or taking the baby so you can have that uninterrupted shower. Using a carrier or sling like the JJ Cole Agility Stretch Carrier, can be a great way for your partner to go about the tasks they may still need to do, and give you a break at the same time.
“This is not the time for mind-reading,” says Karina. So take that deep breath and let your partner know what you need. After all, you’re both in this together.
3. Let people help you
Sometimes it can seem like the only way to have something done right, is to do it yourself. This is not the time for that. If your parents, in-laws or friends offer to bring you food or do the laundry, now is a good time to let them. Also keep in mind that keeping the house neat is not necessary at this time. People who want to help don’t care about what your house (or you) looks like – they just want to give some assistance if they can. Because all people who have had new babies know just how demanding this time really is.
In the early days of parenthood, it’s also perfectly okay not to attend events or engage in activities that you have no energy for. “Say no when you need to,” Karina advises, “But say ‘yes’ to all offers of help.”
This is a sponsored post for BIG W, where you can find everything you need for pregnancy, baby and beyond.