New Moms Guide to Self-Care

Being a new mom is exciting! You’ve been in the hospital for a couple days now, where nurses and doctors care for both you and your baby. The time has come for you both to transition to your baby’s new home. New parents often feel overjoyed and hopeful, but feelings of stress and anxiety are also common.

Try these tips to help make this transition a positive experience for everyone.

Nutrition and Exercise

Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and childbirth. By eating healthy, healing and recovery is quicker and faster. You’ll have the energy you need to be a happy mother. It may take several months to lose weight gained during pregnancy. Extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can back fire, leaving you sick and exhausted. For the first 6 months, an average of 1 to 2 pounds per week weight loss is safest.

Reduce high-fat snacks and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, balanced with proteins and carbohydrates. Many mothers find themselves very thirsty, especially if the baby is nursing. Breastfeeding moms should increase their fluid intake with water, milk, and juice. Get some exercise during the day once your doctor gives you the ok. Studies show that regular exercise promotes better sleep, increases your energy, and can even help with skin tone. It also can change your body and give you more confidence as a new mom.

Sleep Matters

Every new parent soon learns that babies have different time clocks than adults. A typical newborn wakes up about every three hours and needs to be fed, changed, and comforted. By establishing realistic day time and night time routines, you can reduce the feelings of exhaustion and create a healthy sleep pattern for the entire household.

Healthy Sleep Tips:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps.
  • Some parents keep their newborn in a bassinet beside their bed to make nighttime feedings easier.
  • Experts recommend that parents do not sleep with baby, as this can be dangerous and doesn’t allow baby to learn to sleep on his or her own.
  • After 3-4 weeks, introduce a bottle to breast-fed babies for an occasional night-time feeding by your partner or parent, so you can have a longer period of uninterrupted sleep.
  • Cut caffeine out of your diet.
  • Avoid taking over-the-counter medications or herbal preparations to help you sleep.
  • Don’t feel obligated to entertain. Visits from friends and family are nice, but a new mother should not have to play hostess.
  • Put a “Baby Sleeping” sign on all doors during nap time. Turn off all phones.
  • Help baby learn day from night—loud and bright in the day and quiet and dark at night.

Hygiene

Good hygiene is key when recovering from pregnancy and raising a baby because it reduces germs and the chance of infection. It also sets a good example for your children. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss your teeth daily. Bathe daily to fight infection and prevent injuries. Bathing also makes you smell and feel refreshed and clean—a great way to end or start your day. Wash and brush hair regularly.

Hand Washing

When mom maintains her own health, she is better able to properly care for her child. Washing your hands throughout the day is a great way to avoid illness and the spread of germs. Be sure to wash your hands:/p>

  • Before eating
  • Before dressing a wound, giving medicine, or inserting contact lenses.
  • Before nursing or feeding baby.
  • Before and after changing a diaper.
  • After you use the bathroom.
  • Whenever your hands look or feel dirty.

Proper Hand Washing

  1. Wet your hands and apply soap.
  2. For 20 seconds, rub & scrub the entire hand, including nails.
  3. Rinse hands well. Use a paper towel to dry hands and to turn off the faucet and open the door.

Maintaining good hygiene can help renew a tired mommy, leaving you feeling more relaxed and ready to tackle the day!

Emotional Well Being

After giving birth, most moms become overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. You may be happy and overjoyed one minute, and short-tempered or anxious the next.

This emotional rollercoaster may be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Lack of sleep or interrupted sleep
  • Changing roles at home and work
  • Change in daily routines and predictable schedules
  • Change in self-image
  • Anxiety related to parenting skills
  • Hormonal changes

“Baby Blues” is a mild, short-term form of Postpartum Depression. A mother may experience moodiness, irritability, anxiety, and panic attacks. These feelings are common and may go away after a week or two.

Postpartum depression lasts longer and is more serious. Symptoms include:

  • A depressed mood continuously for two weeks or more.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Excessive anxiety over your baby’s health or no interest in your baby.

If symptoms continue, get help from your doctor or a counselor at Crossroads.

Tips for Dad

Encourage Dad to spend time with his baby during pregnancy and after birth. Even in the womb, baby will become familiar with Dad’s voice if he sings or reads aloud. Dad can also comfort, rock, bathe, feed, and change his newborn. Mom should use this time to rest and rejuvenate or to spend quality time with other children.

Tips for Siblings

Siblings love to help with the new baby, too. A proud brother or sister can assist mom with bottles or get diapers and wipes when needed. Also, invite siblings to sing or talk to the newest family member.

Siblings may feel like they are being replaced by the new baby. Make time for just you and your older children and reassure them that you love them just as much as ever. Complement them on being such a good big brother, and consider bringing them a new big brother gift when baby comes home from the hospital.

Click here to download the New Mom's Guide to Self Care Brochure.