Hardships of Being a New Mom
Being a new mom can come with a monumental number of challenges. Some include adjusting to a new routine, lack of sleep, rush of hormones to only name a few. New mother’s often have the intense feeling that their baby has now become their whole world. Although this can be very true since babies require a lot of nurturing and care, self-care and taking care of oneself can also fit into this world. If you have flown on a plane, you have probably heard the flight attendant say, “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others around you”. This statement can also be true when it comes to self-care. For example, the oxygen mask can be replaced with “self-care”. It can be hard to help someone when we are worn out and do not have any energy left. With that being said, this analogy is not saying that you should neglect your baby’s needs in place of your own. The concern is that many mothers feel immense pressure to take care of the baby, upkeep on chores, all while being on maternity leave and returning to work eventually. This can be a lot to take on all at once. Therefore, self-care is not selfish, in fact it can be very important and here is why.
Research confirms mom burnout is very real. Lead researcher Moïra Mikolajczak said in a press release, “In the current cultural context, there is a lot of pressure on parents. But being a perfect parent is impossible and attempting to be one can lead to exhaustion.” (Mikolajczak, 2019). Therefore, self-care can help to prevent some of the consequences of parental burnout: emotional distancing from your children, emotional exhaustion, parental neglect, escape ideation, parental violence. Not every mother who has parental burnout will experience these symptoms, but research shows an increased likelihood of these happening.
Some self-care tips for new moms include learning to say no, learning from mistakes and not dwelling on them, accept and ask for help when you need it, and let go of the guilt of doing something for yourself. Below are some self-care ideas provided by Very Well Family:
1. Go for a 20 minute walk, with or without your baby.
2. Talk or text with a friend or counselor.
3. Journal for 10 minutes in the morning or before bed.
4. Keep a daily gratitude log.
5. Meditate for 5-10 minutes before you fall asleep or while your baby is napping.
6. Sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing for 10 minutes.
7. Prioritize sleep: Nap with your baby, have your partner take the baby on the weekends so you can sleep in, etc.
8. Get a massage, a mani-pedi, or anything just for you.
9. Take up a hobby, like knitting or crafting, that you can do in short spurts here and there.
10. Take a weekend afternoon to wander around town just by yourself, getting coffee, shopping, strolling—this kind of freedom will be invigorating.
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