New moms face an enormous amount of pressure – from themselves, their families and certain societal ideas of what a mother should be. Oftentimes, this leads to moms not taking time for themselves out of guilt or fear that they will be perceived as lazy, selfish or ungrateful for their new baby.
This is ultimately detrimental to both mom and baby; it is critical that new moms tend to their mental health so that they can be the best version of themselves for their families. Whether you or the mom in your life is balancing work and home life or stays home with the kiddos, there exist tangible ways to make a new mom’s mental health just as much of a priority as the other important aspects of her life.
How can I care for my mental health as a new mom?
By caring for your mental health, remember that you are not being selfish. Instead, you’re taking the time needed to make sure you have the capacity and energy to care for your baby. Because if you’re not being filled up, then what do you have left to give?
Just like you would ensure your baby has adequate food, rest and enrichment, it’s important for you to get all of those things too. Try to eat balanced meals when possible, have portable snacks throughout the day to keep your energy up and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Find a healthy sleep schedule that works for you as well, whether that means sleeping when the baby sleeps, having your husband take the night shift or planning a naptime of your own during the day.
Know yourself. What relaxes you, and what triggers you? If you need an hour to eat popcorn and watch reality tv after a long day, make time for that. If you know that having your child’s toys scattered about their room will give you more anxiety, come up with an efficient tidying system so you can quickly address the issue.
Tag team those middle-of-the-night feedings and changes with your spouse: If you feed the baby, ask your husband to take care of burping, changing diapers—and pajamas, if necessary—and rocking back to sleep.
Learn to prioritize, both at work and at home. What will happen if I don’t handle this task within the next five minutes? Few hours? Can it wait a couple of days? You will save yourself stress by prioritizing what can wait and what cannot.
Be at peace with the fact that you may not always make the right call. It’s normal, and it’s okay. Striving for perfection will ultimately lead to disappointment when learning to be a new mom.
Have a routine for feeding times, nap times, housekeeping and playdates. Even if lunch is a little late every once in a while, both you and your baby will feel more comfortable when you know what to expect each day.
Integrate date nights into your routine! Take time every week for you and your partner to go to the movies or catch up over dinner, just the two of you.
While all these tips are helpful, let go of excessive expectations when implementing them. Mold them to work with your particular lifestyle and let the rest go.
How can I support the mental health of a mom in my life?
If you yourself aren’t a mom, perhaps you know a mom in your life who needs a little support. By physically offering to help out, you can support the mental health of your friend as she masters caring for a new baby.
You may not feel comfortable offering to babysit, but perhaps you can go over to read to the baby or drop off dinner while mom takes care of other things around the house. If you would love to help babysit, make that known.
Instead of asking what you can do to help, jump in when you see that mom needs it. If she’s dealing with a diaper blowout, have a fresh diaper and onesie at the ready. If she has mentioned she’s too tired to cook tonight, bring home her favorite takeout as a surprise.
Organize a day for mom to pamper herself, either solo or with you or a group of friends. Spending the day getting her nails done, going for a hike or having a long meal at a restaurant may be just the thing she needs to recharge.
Send encouraging messages to your friend throughout the day, especially if their baby is teething or struggling with sleeping long hours through the night.
Encourage your friend to pause and reflect on this phase in her life and her baby’s life. Babies grow incredibly quickly, and the massive responsibility of motherhood can overshadow all of the tiny changes and bonds that are made; a first-time mom might be grateful for a reminder to step back and appreciate how special this time is.
And if your friend says that she doesn’t need help, at least she knows you’re available and willing!
Mental health support for new mothers
After welcoming a baby into your family, you will quickly learn that there is no shame in asking for help. It’s not uncommon to ask grandma to come over while you run to the grocery store or have your partner bottle feed your baby so you can take a long shower. Asking for or accepting help with your mental health should be no different.
Pyramid Online Counseling offers effective mental health counseling via a secure teletherapy platform and can work with your busy schedule as a new mom. Our therapists can offer tips on taking time for yourself as a new mom without feeling bad or guilty, and they are also trained to provide support for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety if necessary. Reach out today at 833-525-3077to learn more about how you can prioritize your mental health.