Warding off the baby blues: Be kind to yourself
2 months ago my family and I were blessed with a new addition. Our Son M was born healthy and strong. We spent a few days in the hospital mainly because we had to wait for him to be circumcised, but it all went great and in the end we got to go home Alhamdulilah.
Aside from the typical morning sickness, aches, pains and heartburn, we had a healthy pregnancy without any complications which was a huge blessing especially since I had 2 early miscarriages last year. During postpartum, I, like many other moms went through the baby blues. For those of you who don't know what the baby blues are here is a explanation of the baby blues, postpartum depression, anxiety, etc. This time around since its my fourth kid and I've gained experience I've been able to help myself ease into my feelings rather than diving right in and not catching on to what was going on. Don't get me wrong there are hard days, but I don't let those moments of hardship over shadow the awesomeness that is the rest of my day. Below are some things that have been helping me and Alhamdulilah this time around I feel great.
1. Prepare ahead of time: They say nothing prepares you for a baby but I believe that getting your house and family ready before the baby arrives will go a long way in terms of having a less stressful time with a newborn. Some of the things I did this time was getting the house cleaned, organized, and froze meals so that all we would have to do is warm it up and toss some sides together at most. I also tried setting the right expectations for me and my family, meaning that I knew things wouldn't always work out as I expected them to and that it is ok to go with the flow. With my two eldest kids being on summer break and my four year old being home all day I knew things would get loud and that they would want to be around the baby a lot even while I'm feeding him or putting him to sleep. Although this was challenging, I had to remind myself that it wasn't the end of the world.
2. Ask for Help: This time I asked for help. My sister has been staying with us for a month so far and will stay for a few more weeks. It has been great having two other adults on hand daily to help with my older kids, the house and the baby. With my eldest we lived in a new city far away from both of our families and after the first short visit from our parents we were on our own, so having help for a long period of time definitely created ease. I also asked my friends for help; they have been great watching my oldest kids at the mosque, preparing food for us and delivering goodies for the kids. Great family and friends have truly been a blessing for me.
3. Rest: Now when I say rest I don't necessarily mean "sleep when the baby sleeps". That may work for some people, but not everyone has the luxury of sleeping when their baby does. What has been working for me however is staying in bed with the baby as long as possible, and the rest of the time I'm relaxing on the couch with him or with the big kids. I haven't been doing anything more than getting food warmed up or putting together a quick snack for my kids. I haven't even been cleaning much other than washing a few dishes or loading the dishwasher. I have been really kind to myself this time around and I'm a firm believer in the 4th trimester. I've only gone out for errands, fresh air, a change in scenery, and doctors appointments. I don't feel obligated to attend every event we are invited to. It's enough to let the host know that I wont be able to make it but I appreciate their invite or I send my family instead. This decision has worked out very well for me, because I'm now thinking of what's best for the baby and I, rather than trying to please everyone else.
4. Eat on time and Eat Healthy: Two things have a huge impact on your stress level: fatigue and hunger. I have found that if you eat and rest everything is easier to handle when your not mentally and physically running on empty. Try to drink plenty of water especially if your nursing as well as foods high in protein.
5. Provide lots of activities for your older kids: Not just any activities but things they can do on their own. Postpartum recovery is not the time for things that require "adult assembly"or supervision. I got new crayons and coloring books, books, craft sets, puzzles and more game apps. This has all gone a long way in entertaining them.
6. Positive self talk: As moms, many times we find ourselves dwelling on the negatives and always thinking back on what we could have done better. If I think about the positives rather than the negatives my day goes much better. Its all about looking at the glass half full instead of half empty.
7. Sunlight and Fresh Air: Trying to get some fresh air every day and some sunlight both go a long way in making you feel better. Being cooped up inside day and night in artificial light will only make you feel more tired and groggy. So strap that baby on, grab the stroller or just hold him/her in your arms and go outside for a few minutes. Remember to keep your baby protected from over exposure to direct sunlight. A sunhat and cool airy clothes are a couple of ways to protect your baby.
Everything listed above as well as saying lots of prayers and asking God for patience and ease helped me find balance and I was able to enjoy my first few weeks of postpartum. I hope this post has helped and please come back for more articles on postpartum and my new life as a mom of four kids.