In baby massage classes, we share ideas about how to look after your baby, how to get them to sleep/eat/play and how to organise your life around these unpredictable little ones. But what's also important when you have a newborn baby, is learning how to look after yourself.
Many mums struggle to cope with the huge changes that are happening - emotionally, physically and socially - and this period can be very stressful and lonely. Add in a crying baby, with their not-so-calming screams, and it can be even more difficult. Studies have shown that stress can be so dangerous to our health, so it's vital that mums take care of their mental health and be wary of how stress can be taking it's toll.
I often ask mums in my classes how they reduce stress during this difficult time. Staying sane and feeling good will help you enjoy motherhood and ultimately be a better, healthier, happier parent. Here are some of the tips that I've heard being shared in my groups...
1. Have a glass of wine
If you used to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings, do it again now. It's important to do things you used to do before - to retain your identity and sense of self - as this so often becomes diminished when you become a parent. And we all know a good glass of wine can help calm you down... Just maybe wait until the baby is in bed or you have someone to take over - you'll probably fall asleep pretty quickly afterwards!
Whether it's mum-and-baby yoga and post-natal classes, or a run/swim (if you're body is ready) at the weekend when your partner can take over, this is one of the BEST things you can do for your mind at this time. The endorphines released by exercise will really lift your mood, and help you feel confident, healthy and energised. Make sure you take it easy for those first few months though!
3. Peace and quiet
Dealing with a crying baby can be so stressful - their cries are specifically designed to hit the exact pitch that will really 'get' to you. Don't be afraid to ask people to help so you can have a break and just sit in silence - meditate, read, have a bath, just have a cup of tea - just a few minutes in silence will feel like bliss.
4. Get away
If time and money allows it, get away from home for a few hours or days and stay with the grandparents or have a mini break. A change of scenery (especially if you've spent a lot of time indoors) will really refresh your attitude. Some mums say just a walk around the block for fresh air can do the same thing.
5. Go out
Separation! If you and your baby are ready, and you feel comfortable and confident you can leave them with your partner or another family member, why not go out and see a friend for dinner or drinks? You'll be surprised at how relaxed you are (or maybe how anxious/stressed you were earlier) when you have time to yourself without your little one and all their paraphernalia.