When an airplane is about to crash, you’re supposed to put your mask on first, before your baby’s. That’s for a reason. You have to take care of yourself first, so that you can then take care of the baby.
In parenting, it can feel selfish to leave the baby to do something you enjoy. But your mental health makes you a better parent. Dr. Darshana Lele, a licensed Psychologist and Director of Psychology at the Art Center College of Design, offers these five tips for promoting mental health during the first year of motherhood:
- Expect some baby blues. Regardless of who you are, expect some baby blues. Women can feel guilty if they don’t feel the way they expected to, but most women experience baby blues after having a child.
- Exercise. Exercise helps with losing the baby weight, so you can feel better about your body. Also, exercise releases endorphins and releases stress which helps us to feel even better.
- Yoga and meditation. Practicing being in the moment and mentally letting go of all of our stressors can really help.
- Enjoy your hobbies. Dr. Lele suggests that having some “me time” is as important as bonding. So don’t be afraid to do some things you enjoy.
- Sleep. You need to be well-rested enough to care for your baby, during the day. Breastfeeding mothers may be able to pump once or twice during the day, so that the father can take a shift of getting up at night. Also, moms need to do what they’re comfortable with, but babies aren’t born knowing how to sleep through the night. Dr. Lele says, “Sleep training is extremely important, especially if the mother has postpartum depression, anxiety, or depression.”
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