Prioritizing Mental Health When Welcoming Baby
When your new baby arrives, they suddenly become the center of your world. Caring for a baby requires your full attention. While it's certainly a joy, it can put pressure on your mental health.
Boys Town Pediatrics offers these tips for new parents to navigate the mental health aspects that are important when bringing your new baby home.
Mental Health Tip 1: Give Yourself Grace
Any life change is challenging, but this is especially true with a new baby. It's important that you take it easy on yourself and your spouse or partner.
- Recognize you are going into a new identity, even if you already have children
- Think about the new responsibilities that come with a new baby
- Be patient with yourself and your spouse or partner
- Remember that learning happens on a day-by-day basis
Mental Health Tip 2: Keep Doing What You Enjoy
It's important to maintain a sense of balance about your life. While your baby requires intentional care and attention, that doesn't mean you must give up everything you enjoy.
- Allow time away from caregiving responsibilities
- For example, if one spouse or partner likes to go to the gym or book club allow them the time to do so
- Split up responsibilities so that each parent feels like they have time for themselves
- If you're a single parent, reach out to friends or family members for support
- Allow time to get together with friends and family
Mental Health Tip 3: Remember, You Were a Couple Before Baby
When a new baby arrives, it's easy for each person to focus fully on the new baby. It's important for couples to keep their relationship strong and keep making time for each other.
- If grandparents, friends or family offer babysitting help, take them up on it
- Prioritize little moments together
- Schedule time for each other into your day or evening
- When you are together and away from baby, keep conversations away from baby - talk about each other
Mental Health Tip 4: Know How to Recognize and Manage Postpartum Depression
After birth, moms go through changes in hormones that can make life challenging. Some women suffer from a condition called postpartum depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be so subtle that mom doesn't even realize they're happening. New moms should communicate their needs and how they're doing with the people in their life. It's also important for the spouse, partner, family members and friends to check in on a new mom and ask what she needs. Some signs to look for include:
- Increased anxiety
- Chronic fatigue not related to sleep interruptions because of baby
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
Mental Health Tip 5: Moms, Take Care of Yourself
For a new mom, it might sound counterintuitive to spend time on yourself. It's important for a mom's mental health that she meet her own needs as well as baby's.
- Get enough sleep
- Take a walk outside from time to time
- Get some kind of physical movement in when you're indoors (brief workouts, even cleaning helps)
- Be sure you're eating enough, and the right kind of foods
Whether you're a new mom or dad, it's important to keep communication open, frequent and honest with your spouse or partner, family members and friends. This can help keep those relationships solid and reduce the amount of pressure a new baby can put on your mental health.