Life can change in an instant, like the moment you bring a new baby home. Babies need round-the-clock care, but those early days will be easier if you focus on your own health too.
When you bring a new baby home, familiar routines disappear and are replaced with sleepless nights and a host of unfamiliar challenges and experiences. It can also be a wonderful and exciting time. Here are our top tips for how to also think about your own health when you’re looking after a new baby:
Ambitious lifestyle experts will tell you to get some exercise, but drop all unfair expectations and start by just getting out of the house. It’s normal to feel trapped and overwhelmed when you have a new baby. Even if you go for a brisk walk outside, the fresh air will help put things in perspective.
Ask for help
This is one of those times when you need to accept help from others. You’ll know instinctively what you need – whether it’s a hot meal, a delivery of groceries or even just 20 minutes to yourself. When someone offers to help, take them up on it. Some people are lucky enough to have friends or relatives who can provide exactly what you need, but there is no shame in outsourcing to professionals like a cleaner or babysitter.
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Don’t forget to include yourself in health checks
Your baby will have their first post-hospital check-up when they’re about six weeks old. The doctor will take measurements and check their physical development. This is a good time to ask about yourself too – just as you would any other time your body is healing from a major event. Ask any question you like, and be honest if you’re having trouble coping. Health services are there to help both you and your baby thrive.
Find your tribe
Parents’ groups help weave an essential social fabric through which new parents can find other people who have babies around the same age. As with any new social group or community, it can take a while to become comfortable. Be patient and trust that you’re doing the right thing by building a social network for you and your baby.
Go to the (digital) town square
All praise the internet, because it has become a place where people can find like-minded others . . . and experienced parents. You’re not alone in this brave new world of parenthood. Every ‘new parent’ feeling, worry and physical symptom you experience will have been tweeted, posted, liked and blogged about thousands of times on the internet. The range of opinions and sources on the information super highway can create information gridlock, but it won’t take long before you find your virtual tribe online. Plus, there’s lots of funny videos by very clever parents who will help you laugh at the chaos of your new life.
Healthy you, healthy baby
Happy and healthy babies flourish in the care of happy, healthy parents. Make your baby’s health a priority by including yourself in that picture of wellness, so you can enjoy each other’s company as you explore this new world together.