How to Take Care of Yourself with a Newborn

Having a baby can turn your life upside-down. If you’re struggling to handle the heightened stress and fatigue of being a new parent, you’re not alone. Up to 80 percent of mothers experience “baby blues” during the first week or two after giving birth, and 15 percent develop more serious postpartum depression. Here are some practical tips to help you find time for yourself while also taking care of your newborn.

  • Relax your standards: You’ve got more important things to worry about than deep cleaning and cooking gourmet meals. So let the dust collect. Fold the laundry tomorrow. Clean the bathroom with a quick swipe from a wet wipe. And serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cereal for dinner.
  • Get out of the house: If you’re going stir-crazy stuck at home, take the baby out for a walk. If possible, let someone you trust take the baby so you can run errands or get your hair done.
  • Accept help: There’s no need to go it alone. If family members or friends offer to help, take them up on it! Ask them to hold the baby, fold the laundry, bring dinner over—whatever will help you the most.
  • Adopt healthy habits: Resist the urge to count caffeine as a major food group. Instead, focus on eating healthy food, staying hydrated, and resting when you can. Nap when the baby naps, and work out a nighttime schedule with your partner that allows you both to maximize the amount of sleep you get.
  • Set a schedule: Loosely plan how you’ll spend the morning, afternoon, and evening, designating a window of time to check items off your list. Be flexible and realistic so you can stick to your schedule most days.
  • Develop a support network: Keep in touch with your parents, siblings, or friends who have also had babies recently. You might also join a support group where you can commiserate with other new parents.
  • Nurture friendships: Just because you’re a new parent doesn’t mean your relationships have to fizzle out. Ask your partner or someone else you trust to watch the baby so you can go out for lunch with a friend.
  • Maintain a sense of humor: Try to smile, even when things don’t go quite right. The spills, spit-up, and burst diapers are easier to handle if you can laugh it off.
  • Keep some perspective: The newborn days won’t last forever. When you’re surrounded by chaos and almost at your wit’s end, remember that this too shall pass.

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