Before I jump to the list, I have to say that getting enough sleep is HUGE, and as little as one night of uninterrupted sleep can dramatically affect symptoms of postpartum depression. If you can get someone to take a shift (day or night) DO IT IMMEDIATELY. Bonus points if you get to sleep until you wake up naturally! You will not affect your baby’s attachment negatively, but you may very well affect it positively when you wake up more able to focus and connect! If you’re exclusively breastfeeding and are worried about supply/your baby doesn’t take a bottle, the caretaker can bring the baby to you when they’re hungry, and take them back right after feeding.
Ok, on to the non-sleep self-care
1. While feeding your baby, use a meditation app. You’re already sitting for hours every day. There are only so many hours you can stare lovingly into your baby’s eyes 😊
2. Find shows to binge watch while nursing. If you haven’t seen The Letdown on Netflix yet, put it on your list! (disclaimer: don’t watch with kids in the room, and don’t watch unless you’ve already had your baby 😊) Scary Mommy has some more great ideas.
3. Eat. Real food. I know, if you had time, you’d be sleeping, so you don’t have time to cook. But find someone who has time to bring you some healthy meals. People often bring meals to families for the first few weeks after delivery, but things are hard for MONTHS. Ask your partner or a friend to set up a meal schedule for you, even if it’s a few days a week. Or order in! There are tons of places in our area that deliver nutritious food.
4. Get outside. Spending time in nature (even if it’s just your back porch) is grounding. It’s also calming to most babies. Win-win!
5. Drink lots of water. There are so many reasons, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Get yourself a huge glass or water bottle, and keep it filled.
6. Text a supportive mom friend. You need at least one friend you can share your anxieties, frustrations, and middle of the night questions with.
7. Shower. It’s probably been a while. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel!
8. Put on fresh “clothes.” A clean t-shirt and yoga pants totally count. I’m not going to tell you to put on real clothes and fix your hair and makeup. I know that works for some women, but it’s a little ambitious in my book.
9. Practice the sidelying nursing position. If you can’t sleep, at least you can lay down! Verywellfamily has an awesome guide.
10. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings. Getting no sleep is HARD. Constantly being “on” is hard. Recovering from birth is hard. Adjusting to a new role and new family member is hard. Whatever feelings you have are ok. Acknowledging and accepting your feelings allows you to release them and move on.
You can do this!