Most parents of newborns have a lot of ups and downs. You feel happy, proud and excited in one day. You feel sad, lonely or depressed the next. Don’t worry, that’s just the "after-baby blues."
What brings on the after-baby blues? It could be that:
- As a new mom, the after-baby blues are part of the changes your body goes through after birth.
- You got lots of attention before the baby came. Now, the baby is getting all that attention. You feel a little left out.
- You worry that something will happen to your new baby.
- You worry that something will happen to you.
- If you’re a dad of a newborn, watching your partner get the after-baby blues can give you the blues.
Your body has been hard at work for the past nine months. If you feel like you deserve a break, it’s because you do! There are a few things you can do to feel better faster: Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and take care of yourself.
Getting Some Sleep
You need to get plenty of rest, especially in the first few weeks. Try to:
- Ask someone close to you to help out while you rest. Be sure you ask someone you get along with and trust.
- Keep visits from relatives and friends short — unless they come to help you out.
- Let some things go for a while. Sleep is more important to you right now than a clean house. The dishes will wait.
Getting enough sleep is a problem for all parents. Newborns sleep about 15 to 16 hours a day. But, babies sleep on a different schedule than adults. A two-week-old baby will only sleep for three or four hours before waking up to eat. By four months, some babies will sleep up to eight hours at a stretch. But other babies can take even longer to learn to sleep through the night.
However, you still need your sleep. If your baby likes to sleep during the day and is awake at night, try to:
- Bathe your baby in the early evening. This will help baby stay up while you are awake and sleep longer while you are asleep.
- Set up a bedtime routine — singing, hugs and kisses. Follow this routine every night. Soon, your baby will learn that being in bed means going to sleep.
- By using these tips, you can help your baby form sleep habits that make you happy. In the meantime, sleep when baby sleeps.
Eating and Exercising
Eating right and exercising are very important. Are you breastfeeding? Your doctor, nutritionist or nurse / midwife can give you the best advice about what you should eat to nourish your baby. Some basic rules for all moms are:
- Eat three meals a day. Be sure to eat some foods from these four lists:
- Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt or other milk products. If you have allergies to milk, ask about other foods to eat.
- Fish, nuts, meats and eggs.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Pasta, rice, oats, whole-grain breads and grits.
- Drink plenty of water, juice and milk.
- Don’t drink things that contain caffeine (coffee, tea and some kinds of soda), if you are breastfeeding.
- Ask for an easy exercise program. You want to lose weight gradually.
Taking Time for You
Your baby depends on you for everything. A few simple steps can help you stay in control:
- Ask for help when you need it. Ask someone you trust to watch the baby while you take time away.
- Do something you really like when your baby is sleeping. Take a bath. Read a book. Watch TV. Listen to the radio. Exercise. Get some sleep!
- Don't expect to be perfect. The super-parents you see on TV are not real people. Everyone makes mistakes.
- Get out of the house with your baby in tow. A short walk to the store or a visit with a friend can work miracles.
- Find another parent to talk to and do things with. Other new parents will understand you.
- Remember that you are in charge of your baby. You may not agree with the advice of relatives or friends. Follow your own feelings. Or ask your doctor or nurse. There’s no such thing as a “dumb” question.
Dads Can Help
Many new moms are afraid to let dads take care of the baby. Dads are parents, too. Some dads jump right into the act, while others aren’t sure what to do. Help your partner learn about babies. Ask him to change the diapers, dress the baby and give the baby a bath. Dads can be wonderful at gently rocking a baby to sleep for the night. Just be sure to reassure Dad when he’s doing a good job.
Take Time for Each Other
Many new parents think that having a baby will make them feel closer than ever. Sometimes, it does. Many parents also feel like their relationship is being put to the test. It’s harder to get along when you’re tired. Plus, you don’t have much time for each other. Learn how to make time for each other with these tips:
- Find some time to be alone together. Talk to each other. Share your feelings about being new parents — the good and not-so-good things.
- Make a date with each other. Ask someone you trust to take care of the baby. Go out and have some fun!
- Be good to each other. You both need extra love and attention right now.