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Being a new mum is a shock to the system in all sorts of ways. Read our tips to help you deal with the demands of having a new baby
As lovely as motherhood is, there are often times when it all feels a bit too much. Here’s how to de-stress so you feel calmer, more energised and ready to take on the next round of nappies, feeds and sleepless nights.
1. Avoid sugar
‘While it’s tempting to reach for sugary treats like chocolate and biscuits to perk you up, they’ll just make you more tired,’ says A-list trainer James Duigan, author of Clean & Lean Pregnancy Guide and dad of two. ‘They’ll give you a quick burst of energy, then cause your blood sugar levels to crash, leaving you more tired and hungry than before.’
2. Eat well
‘Fill up on whole foods like chicken, fish, eggs, oatcakes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables instead,’ says Duigan. ‘They’ll keep you strong and energised when you feel anything but.’
Go for a walk outdoors every day as soon as you feel up to it. A recent study from Michigan University in the US found that walking in fresh air reduces stress and lifts a low mood.
4. Forget housework
It’s tempting to do the dishes or put a wash in when your baby naps, but forget the chores for the first few months of baby’s life. If you can afford it, get a cleaner. Otherwise, don’t waste precious feet-up-with-a-cuppa time doing the ironing. It can wait – and you need the rest.
5. Accept help
Don’t try to be Superwoman. Ask for help and graciously accept every offer you get. When people come to see you and ask if they can bring anything, ask them to bring essentials such as milk or bread. When friends or family visit, let them take baby out for a walk while you nap.
6. Have ‘mini me-time’
While a hair appointment or spa manicure sounds wonderful, in reality there won’t be much time in the first few months. So take mini me-times when you can. Have a soak in a hot, oily bath when your partner gets home from work; paint your nails in front of the TV or put your feet up and enjoy the paper when baby naps. Just 10 minutes of ‘me-time’ can be enough to de-frazzle you.
7. Meet other mums
If you did NCT classes while pregnant, schedule in weekly meet ups with the other mums. If you didn’t, get out there and meet some at baby groups or the park. Adult company will keep you stress-free – and sane.
8. But don’t listen to their baby boasts!
Nothing raises a new mum’s stress levels quite like hearing their friend’s baby is sleeping through the night at six weeks. So ignore all the new mum boasts because babies develop at different rates. Plus some mums exaggerate anyway.
9. Baby-proof your relationship
Many new parents go from blissful to bitter in the first year of parenthood – with arguments about who knows best and who’s most tired being the most common. The answer? Know it’ll pass. And in the meantime do couple stuff such as occasional dinners out. Be kind to each other, even when you’ve been up all night and he’s had a full night’s sleep!
10. Know it’s OK to not always enjoy motherhood
In the early days of motherhood it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed and bored. It’s also normal to miss your old life and not enjoy your new one. Some days you may not feel like this, but on other days you might. You’ve undergone a huge life change, you’re sleep-deprived and hormonal. So know it’s OK to feel like this and be kind to yourself. However, if you’re crying or feeling tearful most days speak to your GP.
By Maria Lally