Having a baby can be overwhelming. You are transitioning into a new role, sleep deprived, feeding baby every 2-3 hours, and wondering how everything will ever get done. You’ve heard sleep when baby is sleeping, but when? You might be so tired that you have no idea what you need. Planning for your needs can help you get ahead and deal with postpartum stress that may come up. Having worked with lots of moms over the years to create a postpartum plan, here are the 5 things that every new mom needs.
Make a list of the closest people in your life who can help you out. Then a list of extended supports. These people may be able to help physically or emotionally. Planning out what you might need ahead of time can be helpful so that when someone asks how they can help, you know what to ask for. It might be dropping off food, light cleaning, advice, or validation.
A new parent’s support group can also help in developing new friends and feeling connected to others going through the same things as you. You might also look into lactation consultants, night nurses, postpartum doulas, a postpartum physical therapist, and perinatal psychiatrist before baby is born in case you need extra help.
How will you eat to meet your basic need of fueling your body? This may sound a little silly, but it’s easy to get so busy that you forget to eat or don’t feel like cooking. First, have lots of snacks. Pre-cut apples, almonds, yogurt, and other things that are easy to grab and eat In between feedings. Freeze stuff that’s been made ahead of baby’s arrival. If someone asks what they can do, ask them to bring over food.
What will you do to move your body? This is an easy one to forget, but it helps. It doesn’t need to be strenuous as first. Taking walks or doing some postnatal yoga from a YouTube video might be all you have time for at first. When you take a walk, you can also bring baby with you and get some fresh air, which is a plus.
I imagine some eye rolls here. Yes, sleep deprivation is par for the course in early parenthood, especially for mothers who have chosen to breastfeed. We’re eventually aiming for 5 consecutive hours. This may not be feasible at first, but for some, this may need to happen sooner than later. If you are bottle feeding with either pumped milk or formula, having a partner do a feed after the 2-3 hour may help make this possible. If you are pumping, you will probably still need to get up in the night at some point to pump, but problem-solving with a lactation consultation may help you find the sweet spot to do this so that you can get a little more sleep.
5. Light and Fresh Air.
Sunlight and fresh air are the most underrated ways to support mental health. If you can’t go outside, open all the curtains, and make sure you are getting as much light as you can.
Finally, this one is optional, but if you can take a shower. DO IT! Talk with your partner about how to make it happen every day, or close to everyday. Please don’t go a week without a shower. Sometimes, it’s the one thing that can make you feel like a human again.
After the initial excitement of baby’s arrival dissipates, the offers to help slow down or go away. This is the time when it is crucial to reach out to your supports. This is when mothers often feel isolated and alone. People want to help. Let them. Connection is key!
If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas, please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.