Your mental health matters!
Becoming a parent is incredibly life changing.
You go from having the freedom to doing what you want, when you want to having to organise your life around your new baby’s needs, feeds and nap schedule.
These tiny gorgeous little beings are natures neediest offspring and rely on us for absolutely everything; its no wonder we can feel completely overwhelmed at times.
Whether it’s the lack of sleep, feeling like you can’t find time to fit in normal things like eating and drinking enough or just feeling drained when they cry and can’t say what’s wrong; parenthood is tough. It’s the most rewarding job yet it’s the most exhausting one too.
Make time for yourself. I am especially guilty of not doing this. It’s been an incredibly hard year raising a baby with little support, returning to work at the busiest time and trying to manage a household. I admit I am still working out this new work life balance post maternity leave.
Always make time to eat and drink and give yourself lots of energy. Have a water bottle that you fill up whenever you sit down to feed your baby or even some high energy snacks. The expression you can’t pour from an empty cup is so true here. Your baby needs you so make sure you are looking after yourself too.
We hear about how good exercise is for us, but if we can’t find time to even pour a drink some days, how can we find time for exercise? Start off with a short amount of time, while baby is napping or settled somewhere safe. Then when your baby is a bit older and in more of a routine, you will have a better idea of how long you can exercise for. There are lots of free exercise classes you can follow on YouTube. Also, there are lots of mum and baby exercise groups, which is also a great way to find like minded parents in the same boat and you can make some new friends in the process for you and your little one. Always ensure you are fully recovered from your birth before starting any exercise classes.
Make sure you have a good support system. I am incredibly lucky that my husband is an equal parent and does a lot for us. Make sure your partner is supportive; sometimes the mother (or primary carer) naturally does everything. Our babies have learnt how to trigger us so it’s our instinct to go straight to our baby when they cry (a mother’s brain even changes during pregnancy increasing hormone levels to prepare us for becoming a parent whereas the father doesn’t have this). Sometimes the father may need a gentle nudge or just ask them directly to do certain things. Often men can feel a bit useless in the early days, especially if baby is more reliant on mum for milk.
Reach out to a family member or friend if you feel overwhelmed – having someone listen to you can be really helpful. Remember its ok not to be ok. Approximately 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health problems are parents. You are not alone.
If you are struggling with a particular issue with your child you can speak with your health visitor or if you feel you have no support, you can contact a helpline.
I used @family_action for extra support when Ava’s separation anxiety was at its worst and they were really helpful.