Having a baby is undoubtedly one of the most exciting chapters in any mom's life. But of course, it isn't always a walk in the park—especially in the beginning. In fact, MOTHER Magazine notes how new moms are often caught off-guard by how complex and ever-changing the emotions around giving birth are. Some mothers even struggle with the "baby blues" and must work hard to build a connection with their newborn.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry—it’s perfectly normal. Maryville University’s psychologists are careful to point out that humans develop throughout their lifespan, which means that there are a whole host of challenges we’re bound to face at certain points of our lives. Moreover, the rise of clinical psychology and its focus on mental health goes to show just how much of a priority it should be for people of all ages, including new moms. As such, it’s important to understand what kind of emotions you’re dealing with and the things you can do to manage it.
Here are some ways that you can do just that.
Take advantage of your post-natal check-up
Six weeks after pregnancy, your doctor will probably ask you to go back for a check-up to see how you’re doing. While the main purpose of this check-up is to see if your body is healing well, this is also a good opportunity to open up about your feelings. Feel free to tell them about your fears or even your apprehensions about being a new mom. Sometimes, all you need to start dealing with your emotions is a willing listener. And if you’re embarrassed about dumping all these on your family and friends, your doctor is always an option, and they'll be more than happy to provide you with expert advice.
Find the time for exercise
If you’re feeling at an all-time low, some light exercise can help you get back up on your feet. A study by Harvard University found that 35 minutes of exercise everyday can fend off depressive feelings and encourage a healthy mind. This is largely because exercise encourages the release of “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins, which help improve your mood. For postpartum mothers, some non-strenuous physical activities that you can do include walking, kegels, and light yoga.
Eat the right foods
New mothers are constantly expending energy to heal their bodies and breastfeed their babies. Some of your down days may be a result of this lack of energy, so it’s always important to eat healthy. Post-natal mothers are also very susceptible to constipation, which can happen as a result of sore digestive tracts and fluctuating hormones. Luckily, we put together a list of recommended foods in our post on ‘Tips for Pregnancy Constipation’ that are both filling and great for your tummy. Besides upping your vegetable intake, some staples you can add to your diet include oatmeal and fiber-rich whole grains.
New mothers have a lot going on, but sometimes it helps to just slow down, take a deep breath, and clear your mind. That’s what mindfulness meditation does. True enough, research from Working Mother claims that meditation does a lot for your mental health, from calming your anxieties to providing a confidence boost. Plus, an entire session can take as little as 10 minutes a day! There are even guided meditation apps like Happify and Headspace to guide you in case you don’t know where to start.
Everyone goes through the postpartum differently, so there’s no one true way to deal with the emotions that come with it. But as long as you surround yourself with a good support system and ensure you do your part when it comes to self-care, then you’ll get through it in no time.
Written by Carmela Petrone