Becoming a mom is a big deal. It is exhilarating and it is exhausting! One minute you marvel at the human being you created, the next moment, terrified at the responsibility. I recall feeling overwhelmed and the days blurred together. Some days I never got out of my P. J’s.
The attention you get when you are pregnant fades, and all the attention goes to the baby. Not that that is a bad thing, or unexpected, yet when you are tired and questioning everything that you do, a full on melt down can be triggered by the littlest things. In my day, the message was to tough it out, get sleep and things will be alright. Ok, I got through it, and both my babies made it out alive and so did I. But a few more ways of coping and understanding what I was experiencing would have been helpful, and a bit more TLC.
It comes down to you taking care of yourself, first and foremost, and not just ‘toughing it out. Everyone will tell you to get sleep, eat well, and exercise. Simple advice, but not easy to heed. You are going to have to be insistent with yourself and your partner, that you need sleep when you need it, a break to be by yourself, and time enough for a walk or something outdoors to feel well. I know it can be tough to find time for these things, but they are essential for your physical and mental health.
A couple more dos and don’ts:
- When you are alone with your baby and no one is available to relieve you, laugh out loud, sing or get up and dance. Especially when you don’t feel like doing any of these things, it is the best time to inform your body that you are in charge of your mood. Your body will get the message and support you until someone can take over for a bit.
- Never, never, never apologize for asking and accepting help from family and friends. You don't have to do everything yourself, and it's okay to ask for assistance. Whether it's someone to help with chores, cook meals, or watch your baby while you take a nap, accepting help can make a big difference in managing your mood.
- Connect with other moms. Even if you are a quiet, independent type of person, connecting with other moms is really important. Hearing from other moms and the struggles they experience, helps you feel sane, and know that you are not losing your mind or your independence. Joining a new mom's group or attending a postnatal yoga class can provide a supportive community and help you feel less alone. Online forums and social media groups can also be helpful resources.
- Make sure to communicate with your partner about your feelings and needs. They may not fully understand what you're going through, so it's important to have open and honest conversations. Try to make time for regular check-ins to talk about how you're feeling and any challenges you're facing.
- Lastly, don't hesitate to seek professional help if needed. Postpartum depression and anxiety are common and treatable conditions. If you're experiencing symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, irritability, or difficulty sleeping, talk to your healthcare provider. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Managing your mood is important for both you and your baby. Tending to your feelings and emotions is as important as eating and sleeping. When you feel well, everything else goes just a little bit easier!