Support for Parents for They are Care Partners Too
When our first son was born, I told the nurse that I couldn’t be discharged from the hospital until she taught me how to change a diaper! I hadn’t spent much time around babies, and I had no clue. I learned, and within a few months, I ditched the diaper service and bought disposable diapers. Being a first-time mother, diapers weren’t the biggest concern, however. Every day felt like a first day on the job! Trying to ascertain the reason for a whimper, or oh no, a crying baby was hard, but my son was an easy baby, sleeping through the night at six weeks, and oh so happy.
I remember being at home with my new baby missing my job, my friends, my “old” life. I wanted to be a mother from the time I played house as a youngster, but this was different. I’ve learned that close to eighty percent of new mothers will experience postpartum or baby blues. Like all care partners, the emotions run the gamut from joy to moments of sadness, from acceptance to moments of denial, from frustration to moments of peacefulness, and these feelings come and go with the hormonal shifts and most likely, interrupted sleep. This condition doesn’t last too long, typically within three weeks of the birth, new mothers are feeling more like themselves.
For some new mothers, more serious symptoms arise like PPD, postpartum depression. The centers for Disease Control reports that one in nine women will suffer from this. New moms need a support team to call upon; obstetrician, pediatrician, or a health care provider. Some local hospitals are establishing departments devoted to PPD.
Here are some suggestions for self-care:
- Sleep. You’ve been told to nap when your baby naps – please heed this wise advice.
- Eat nutritious easy-to-fix meals and drink plenty of fluids.
- Find support from family and friends along with joining a support group.
- Get help with household chores. When my second grandson was born, rather than giving him another darling outfit, I gifted them a house cleaner for the first month and a half . . . and then I hired this woman to help me; I’m a care partner too.
- Exercise. Living outside of Boston proved to be challenging because it was so cold. On clear days, I’d wrap both my son and me in layers and off we’d go for a brisk walk. It did us a world of good!
- Meditation and mindfulness – so calming, so helpful.
- If things are not improving, counseling is an option. Seek support from your health care provider; there are medications that can help.
There are numerous on-line resources, even an online support group for new mothers so take advantage of all there is available to you.
Self-care Rituals: self-care = life-care. Take care of your dear self by providing personal respite care by leaving your baby with a spouse, parent, sibling, or trusted friend to take a little time for yourself.