Taking care of you when you have a baby

Taking care of a new born baby can be all consuming, making it difficult to complete even the simplest of day to day tasks. As these tasks mount up, you can feel stressed and overwhelmed by everything you have to do.

When that happens, it can be hard to think about you. But just as airline passengers are told to put their own oxygen masks on before assisting others, a new parent has to make time for themselves so that they are rested (at least for a little bit), making you better equipped to take care of others.

If your resources are depleted, everything will feel more difficult. Putting time for you on your ‘to do’ list is not selfish, it’s important. Think about something that will help you relax, wind down or feel cared for and make it an essential part of your day.

Take care of yourself when you look after your body this will help to look after your mind. Make sure that you are eating well and exercising to a level that works for you as this will help to lift your mood, help with sleep difficulties and boost energy levels.

Take one day at a time
With a new baby, days and nights can feel daunting and endless. And just as you have the hang of something, everything changes with a new developmental shift! Try to focus just on today, and within that see if you can find the good bits amongst the tougher times. Make a note or take a picture of the things that have made you smile to help you through when it is feeling more challenging.

Sleep little and often if you can while your baby is sleeping – leave the jobs that can wait and if possible, ask others in your household to help out with jobs that need doing.

Make space for yourself
Carve out some time for yourself, even if it is just a few minutes with a cup of tea sitting by a window and looking at the clouds, or talking to a friend on the phone.

Don’t be hard on yourself 
Remember, you are the person your baby needs and your baby won’t be worrying about the things that you are feeling like you’re getting wrong.

It’s OK to ask for help
Ask for help from a trusted family member or friend – and don’t feel bad about it. If it all feels too much, speak to your Health Visitor or GP. You can also contact your local Home-Start. 

Further resources:
Download the NHS accredited baby buddy app for bite-sized guidance through pregnancy until your baby is 6 months old.

Read the NHS coping with stress after having a baby webpage.

Sometimes just being with your baby and slowing down to wonder at the world with them will help you unwind, tune in and know that even if it feels like ‘doing nothing’ with them, what you are doing is the most important job of all. BBC Tiny Happy People gives details of each stage of your baby’s development throughout their first year and may help you to tune in.

Further support:
For every parent, the transition to parenthood, whether for a first baby, or for subsequent births, brings with it a range of feelings – excitement and hopes, as well as fears and worries, about what might lie ahead.

The practical and psychological adjustments take time to navigate, and these important changes in our lives can stir up powerful emotions from a parents own early experiences.

Research tells us that more than 1 in 10 mums and around 1 in 10 dads will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the first years. Many of these difficulties go unseen, undiagnosed, or untreated. It is important to seek help and support if you or your partner is struggling.

You can speak to your GP or Health Visitor.

You can also find some additional information, advice and further signposting from these organisations: 

AIMH – The Association for Infant Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health Alliance

The Parent Infant Foundation may have a team near you (39 UK locations)

Crisis Support:
If you or someone you care about is in crisis, or feeling suicidal and needs urgent help you can access support in the following ways:

Go to A&E at your local hospital

Phone emergency services on 999

Call Samaritans on 116 123 (free to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or email jo@samaritans.org

Watch this short video for more tips on how to take care of you when you’ve had a baby:

Video Transcript:

Ever feel like with a new baby, it’s impossible to complete even the simplest of tasks?

You can spend the whole day trying to get a single job done.

And the more your tasks add up, the more overwhelmed you begin to feel.

When that happens, it can be hard to think about you.

But remember it’s okay to stop and it’s okay to take some time out.

Put ‘time for yourself’ on your to do list.

Choose something you enjoy doing that will help you unwind, whether it’s watching TV, having a bath or snuggling up with someone you love, and do it every day.

If you take care of yourself, you will be better able to take care of your baby.

And if it feels too much, and these feelings don’t seem to be going away, it is important to tell someone such as your GP or Health Visitor. Reach out to friends and family for support and accept help.

This video features Janine Harris, Volunteer Manager at Home-Start Hertfordshire.

This content has been made available from the Home-Start UK website