25 May Taking Care of your Postnatal Physical and Mental Health
Naturally, in the weeks and months after birth, your primary focus will be on the beautiful person you have introduced into the world. To ensure that you can be the best Mother you can be, however, you need to shift some of this focus onto yourself and practice good self-care. These months are an exciting and rewarding time in your life but it brings its stresses, moments of self-doubt, and exhaustion. Here are four of the top tips for taking care of your postnatal physical and mental health:
Though giving birth is one of the most natural processes that women experience, that does not mean it is an easy one. Giving your body time to rejuvenate and relax after birth is essential in nurturing both your physical and mental health. Do not underestimate the power of a good nap! That being said, we all know that rest is not always compatible with a newborn baby. Your support system here is fundamental! Allow your birthing partners, whoever that may be to take the baby between feeds to allow you to catch up on rest. When you have had a chance to rest, you will be back to your amazing self, reading to tackle any challenges this time throws at you!
Though this may seem to contradict our last point, rest and activity go hand and hand. Taking an hour or so during the day to do some not-too-strenuous exercise is so important for rebuilding that strength you may have lost during pregnancy. The release of endorphins experienced during exercise is also really beneficial for your mental health! This does not mean you have to sprint back to the gym for a heavy session! Even a walk in the park, with your baby in a stroller, will do wonders for your health! Be careful not to do too much too soon immediately after birth though! Consult your medical professional as to when you should restart some gentle exercise.
After the fluctuating appetite you’ve experienced during pregnancy, a good diet is critical for returning to your pre-pregnancy health. Ensure you are eating a nutritious and balanced diet, as much as possible, as this will increase your energy and improve your mood. This will also improve the health of your baby if you choose to breastfeed. This may seem like extra stress in your postnatal life but, as I’ve said, lean on your support system and accept any help in preparing healthy meals!
4. Talk to others about your mental health
Though this step is so essential in ensuring a healthy postnatal recovery, it is often the one that new mothers push aside. Motherhood brings with it new sources of joy but also introduces new stresses, anxieties, and feelings of inadequacy. It is okay to admit that you are not feeling 100% happy at this time of your life! Negative feelings are normal and common, but they are not something to ignore. Educating yourself and your support partners on the difference between ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression before giving birth is the best way to get on top of this. In recognizing the difference, it’s important to remember that a bad day is completely normal but a bad week is a cause for concern. Postpartum depression can arise any time in the first year postpartum. Reach out to your friends and families and let them know if you are experiencing negative feelings – the sooner you bring it to their attention the better!