I’ve been a nanny placement specialist for 15 years and a lot of the families I work with are coming to me right after the birth of their child. Also, as a DONA trained doula and pre/post natal yoga instructor, I work closely with a lot of mother’s post-birth. Every mother, family and birth are different, but one constant I see time and time again is that a happy Mom will create a happy baby and a happy family atmosphere.
Post-natal can be a tough time for Mom. For first time Mom’s, everything is completely new and it can be scary facing all the “firsts” with your new baby. For Mother’s that already have children, you have the added responsibility of caring for your toddlers with a newborn in the house – either way you slice it, it is not easy. I wish I had a magic potion that I could give all Mom’s to make their lives easier, but the truth is, raising a child is just not going to be a breeze.
Having a child is one of the most wonderful miracles that exists and seeing their smiling faces in the mornings make every day worthwhile. The pressure of having a this adorable little being rely on you for his/her every whim, though, can cause a lot of stress and anxiety; which may affect every part of your being from the way you interact with your partner, to how you care for your child, to your physical health. Think back to a time where you had a long, hard, stressful day at work and come home only to take that anger out on your partner, family, or roommates. You didn’t mean to, you didn’t want to, but it just happens. Also, when you’re run down and worn out, you don’t always have the energy you need to be the Mom you would want to be.
Keeping Mom happy and healthy will benefit the whole family in the long run. Here are some things that Mom’s can do to nurture themselves:
- Rest! You may be chuckling to yourself, “easier said than done,” but the fact of the matter is that it may not be easy, but it’s important to prioritize. If you’re a new mom and don’t have extra help, it can be hard, but try to grab a nap whenever you can. Maybe while you’re baby’s napping, or while your husband is having some father/baby time. I feel like there’s a stigma against napping, but there shouldn’t be! Never feel bad about grabbing a nap and catching some time to rejuvenate.
- Let go of control. I mean this very seriously. Life pre-child is not the same as live post-birth. You’re life has changed and you need to accept that change. Accept that there are things you can control, such as the color of your nursery and what onesie your baby wears, but there’s a lot you can’t control. You may have trouble breastfeeding (if that’s what you choose), your baby may only sleep 2 hours at a time and want to eat every hour – these things are out of your control.
- Get rid of the idea of being a perfect mom, what’s realistic is doing the best you can.
- Hand over the reins to your partner every once and a while. Remember you’re both in this together. If you’re raising your child on your own, put trust in a family member, or close friend – it’s OK to ask for help.
- Make time for yourself. I cannot emphasize this one enough. You can even multitask with this one – take time for yourself to get an hour of exercise in with your trainer, or to go for a long walk, or a yoga class. Or sit in the park and catch up on your favorite book/magazine. I know it may seem impossible to get away when you have this adorable little one needing all your attention, but if you make just 1 hour for yourself a couple of times a week, you will be happier, which will make you a better mom in the long run.
- Spend time with others. Don’t keep yourself cooped up in isolation. You can even take your little one with you; just make sure you get some air. It’s amazing what something as simple as a cup of tea with a girlfriend can do.
- Binge watch the latest season of House of Cards or whatever you fancy! My point is, don’t feel bad about indulging in mindless activities. Your body and mind need that down time. Being a mom is a kind of like being a marathon runner, you need to recover.
- Pay attention to your emotions and don’t dismiss them. If you’re having a tough time, reach out to your partner, or a close friend/family and let them know. When you’re pregnant a lot of positive attention is on you and after childbirth a lot of that attention may die down after the first month. I often have new Moms coming to me telling me how they feel isolated – just remember you are not alone.
- …Oh and lastly, but most importantly, enjoy the time!!! I know everyone will tell you this, but children grow up so quickly. Embrace every moment you get with your little one, from the sleepless nights, to the sweet kisses – they’re all worth it.
Deb Crisford is the founder and director of Crisford & Co. a boutique nanny placement service with an in-house wellness team. She brings over fifteen years of experience to families in NYC. Prior to opening Crisford & Co., Deb co-owned and operated a top New York City nanny service for seven years. In addition, Deb is a trained yoga practitioner (specializing in pre & postnatal) and a DONA trained doula. Deb’s great connection to little ones has led her to be referred to by many as “the baby whisperer.”