Getting Time To Yourself After Becoming a Mother
Your body has been through a lot during pregnancy and labour, and you've been rewarded for your hard work by finally meeting your wonderful baby! Now your baby has arrived you'll be very busy caring for your newborn, a task that will take up the vast majority of your day (and night!). The first few weeks of motherhood are an amazing time for you and your baby, as you marvel at the tiny person you and your partner have created, but it's also an exhausting time. New mothers are having to recover from the birth, as well as attending to the needs of a newborn who typically cries a lot, feeds every couple of hours and doesn't sleep for more than a few hours at a time. Amidst the exhaustion and chaos that comprises the first few weeks of motherhood, you'll need to get some time to yourself, to recharge your batteries, help you recover from the birth and sleep deprivation, and to keep your sanity!
Getting time to yourself also helps you to be the best mum you can be to your little one, because if you're feeling healthy and fit, your baby will reap the benefits. Here are some tips on how to get some of the elusive 'me time' in early motherhood:
Should I Help With The Housework?
You've got more than enough to deal with when you're recovering from labour and looking after a newborn baby, so don't even think about cleaning the house! Getting some rest and relaxation is much more important than doing the dishes. It's very tempting to use the time your baby is asleep to 'get things done', but go easy on yourself and use this time to relax. You won't be getting much sleep in the early days as your baby doesn't yet know the difference between night and day, and needs to feed every 2-3 hours during the night, so try and nap when your baby naps. A 15-20 minute catnap can make you feel surprisingly refreshed, even though you'll probably feel like you could sleep for hours! If you feel anxious taking a nap as you feel you want to get a few things done before your baby wakes, let yourself take a nap first, and do your jobs afterwards. Remember that getting yourself healthy and happy is the best thing for you and your baby!
Should I Let Friends and Family Help Me Look After My Baby?
Every new mum can benefit from help from friends and family. Help can come in a variety of forms, from helping out with the housework, doing some food shopping for you, washing the baby's clothes, or even looking after the baby while you have a rest. Use any spare time you have to relax, whether that's lying down in bed, phoning up a friend, reading a book, or having a long bath. Friends and family can even help out with the baby care, such as by making milk feeds, burping the baby, and rocking the baby if he's unsettled. Accept offers of help, and don't be shy about asking people to help out if they can. Your friends and family will be happy to help you, and if you feel guilty asking for help, remember that you can have them round for dinner as a thank you in a few months time when you're feeling better and life isn't as chaotic!
How Should I Use The Time When Baby is Asleep?
Don't use the time your baby is asleep, or being looked after by someone else to do housework or other chores, use it to do things you enjoy. Studies have shown that when new mothers have time to engage in enjoyable or relaxing activities, they are less likely to suffer from postnatal depression.
Sharing Responsibilities With Your Partner
If you have a partner, try and share caring for the baby. In many cases, most of the childcare falls to the mother, as factors such as breastfeeding and the father going to work mean that usually mothers do most of the childcare, but when your partner comes home from work, ask him to watch the baby while you have a break. Taking a hands off approach when your partner comes home not only means you can have a break, but it gives him a chance to bond with your baby. If you're bottle feeding, your partner can do some of the feeds, and if you're breastfeeding, have your partner care for your baby when he gets home in between feeds. Bath time is a great chance for dads to get involved in caring for the baby, so if you and your partner are happy with it, make bath time the domain of your partner. This will give you a respite every evening for some 'you time'!
Although you might feel tired, irritable, and not particularly physically well during this period as your body recovers and you're surviving on small amounts of sleep, it's important to savour this precious time with your baby. This is the time when you and your baby are getting to know each other. Babies change very quickly and before you know it they'll be crawling around and no longer newborns! Enjoy this early stage of motherhood, and use it to bond with your baby. Health visitors often recommend having 'day in bed' with your baby, where you spend all day cuddling and snuggling up to your baby (if you decide to co-sleep with your baby, make sure you take precautions to lower the risk suffocation).