Three Things to Get When the Baby Comes: Self-Care for New Parents
Here’s an interesting fact about newborns: they mostly sleep, cry, eat, pee, and poop. Considering that they’ve basically been under construction for nine months, can you blame them for wanting some “me” time with no obligations? Still, they demand your full attention and will for the next several decades of their lives. Consider, too, that you’re both at an extremely vulnerable point. They are small and new to the world and you’re completely focused on them. At the same time, you’ve probably lost sleep, are stressed out from trying to calm them down when they cry, are dreading each visit to the pediatrician.
While you are your spouse are focused on taking care of the baby, consider what you need to do to take care of yourselves. According to Stanford University Children’s Health, your function as a family unit has drastically changed, and you need to handle all of the adjustments that are now part of it, not just in terms of the new little addition to your family, but also how you’re all managing to get through the day without turning to addictive substances to help you cope with the stress, or even to help you sleep.
But as you care for the little one, remember to also do some things to keep yourself healthy, rested, and less stressed during the first few months, or even weeks, of the newborn’s life.
Get Some Sleep
Yes, easier said than done, says every parent with a newborn. But think about it: a new baby is not just new to you, she’s new to the world. She has no concept of night, day, or even time. She just knows when she’s hungry (a tiny stomach doesn’t hold much) and when she’s uncomfortable. So she’ll wake up and be fussy several times during the day. Also, according to Parents.com, newborns have a 50-minute sleep cycle. Adults’ cycles are at 90 minutes. So she wakes up more. Probably the easiest way to get some sleep for yourself is to do so when she sleeps, even if it is for only 50 minutes or more at a time. By the time she’s about four months old, she’ll be on a regular sleep schedule.
Get Some Help
Your spouse or partner should be your go-to person for help with the baby, but you can enlist others for help as well. If your parents live in the same town, ask them for some help. Very few grandparents will turn down a chance to spend time with their new grandchild, even if it gives you a chance to take care of household tasks. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your siblings (if they’re in the same town, too) and from friends as well. However, before you start asking, Kelly Alfieri at The Bump suggests that you first spend a few days with your new baby to determine what kind of help you need first, then ask for it. That way, you can have friends help with specific tasks that stress you the most.
Get Some Food
Just as your family structure has changed with the arrival of the newborn, so will your eating habits. You won’t have regular sit-down dinners for a while, and you’ll probably be tempted to just choke down a granola bar every so often. Instead, you need to eat nourishing, healthy foods. The team at WhatToExpect.com recommends that you have a nutritious snack when your baby eats. Eat cheese, yogurt, small bites of fruit or whole-grain breads or muffins. Keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked with healthy, ready-to-eat meals, and have nuts and whole-wheat crackers in your pantry.
A newborn changes your life in so many remarkable ways. You can experience those changes and enjoy every second of time with your baby without sacrificing care for yourself.