New moms face an enormous amount of pressure – from themselves, from their families and from 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?
- Just like you would ensure your baby has adequate food, rest and enrichment, it’s important for mom 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 the other parent take the night shift or having 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
- If you live with your partner, tag team those middle-of-the-night feedings and changings: mom feeds the baby, then the other parent can 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 the stress
- 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
- 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
How can I support the mental health of a mom in my life?
- You may not feel comfortable offering to babysit, but perhaps you can come 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, with you or with 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 waking mom up every couple of hours
- Encourage your friend to pause and reflect on this phase in their life and their 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 would be grateful for a reminder to step back and appreciate how special this time is
Who can I talk to about needing help prioritizing my mental health as a new mom?
After welcoming your new child to 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 833-525-3077 to learn more about how you can prioritize your mental health.