All mothers want their babies to be happy and healthy. Yet in the constant pursuit of looking after their little ones, new mums sometimes forget to take care of themselves.
Staying healthy during and after pregnancy is easier said than done. With new responsibilities and unfamiliar challenges to overcome, many mothers neglect their own wellbeing in order to focus on their babies. However, healthy mums are far better equipped to look after their children, and have much more fun doing it. To celebrate Mothers’ Day, here are some simple strategies to stay physically and mentally healthy during the trials of early parenting.
1. Eat nutritious food
When you’re pregnant, getting the right nutrients from the food you eat is extra important. It’s estimated that a pregnant woman’s body needs approximately 250 extra calories per day. These calories should come from nutritious food: aim for a well-balanced diet with lots of proteins, grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pregnancy also doubles the amount of iron that your body needs, so it’s a good idea to take iron supplements to avoid developing anaemia (this can sometimes cause babies to be born too small or too early). As well as supplements, stock up on iron-rich foods like seafood, spinach, dried fruit and fortified cereals.
2. Stay hydrated
Pregnant women should aim to drink around 2.3 litres of fluid per day. Water is the obvious choice: an adult’s body consists of roughly 60% water, while an infant’s can be as high as 78%. Drinking lots is therefore crucial: it maintains skin flexibility, protects the joints and helps when breastfeeding.
Find water boring? Fruit juices, herbal teas and soups can also help mums-to-be get their daily dose of hydration, while milk and similar calcium-fortified drinks (such as soy milk) are essential for helping your baby to develop a healthy heart, bones and muscles.
3. Rest regularly
Regular rest is vital both during and after pregnancy. If your body is telling you to take it easy, listen to it – even a 10 minute break can make a big difference when it comes to coping with the stresses and strains of pregnancy.
Once your newborn arrives, ensuring that you’re properly rested will make parenting much easier – you’ll make better decisions and get things done quicker when your brain and body have had the chance to recharge. Of course, an infant’s erratic sleeping schedule can make finding time to rest tricky. Taking short power naps whenever you get a chance will make the late nights and early mornings easier to cope with.
4. Try some light exercise
While aggressive contact sports and high-adrenaline activities should be avoided during pregnancy, lighter exercises such as swimming and walking will help you to feel physically and mentally healthier.
New mums should avoid exercise at first, but might fancy getting active six to eight weeks after birth. If you find you’re too busy to devote time to the gym, try incorporating some low-impact activity into your routine – walking to the shops, stretching in front of the telly or even signing up to a mum-and-baby yoga class will all release endorphins to boost your mood and keep your mind alert.
5. Boost your body confidence
The human body changes a lot during pregnancy, causing many women to feel less comfortable about themselves. Reading about the experiences that other mums have had via books, blogs and online forums can be reassuring, reminding you that the changes you’re experiencing are completely normal. Any particular worries can be brought up with your doctor or midwife, who will be able to provide the professional support and advice you need to deal with your situation.
Body confidence can also be boosted by doing things that make you feel good. Whether it’s cooking up a wholesome meal, treating yourself some well-fitted clothes or getting yourself professionally pampered, focus on the things that make you feel great inside and out.
6. Put yourself (and your baby) first
The extra attention you receive when you announce that you’re having a baby might be nice at first, but it can quickly become exhausting. This is particularly true as you get closer to your due date. Well-intentioned messages from friends and family members eventually grow irritating; some days you might find yourself wishing that people would just leave you alone.
The health and happiness of you and your baby should always come first. Don’t worry about others who might be offended if you forget to return their calls – it’s fine to disconnect with the world for a while and spend some time focusing on yourself. When your baby arrives, don’t feel pressured into hosting: if people want to visit, ask them to help by bringing some pre-prepared food, and warn them that they may need to leave early if your little one starts playing up.
7. Take care of your appearance
It’s amazing how much better we feel when we’re comfortable about our appearance. But when there’s a new family member to look after, making yourself look beautiful isn’t always top priority.
Aim to set aside some time each day to make yourself look and feel presentable. Simple things like showering, getting your hair done and investing in some flattering post-partum clothes will make you feel like you’re acing your first few months of motherhood, rather than simply struggling through.
8. Be generous to yourself
Some days, being a new mum feels scary and overwhelming. When you’ve spent most of your life taking care of your own needs, the arrival of a small, helpless human who relies on you for everything is a considerable life adjustment to deal with.
As much as you care for your baby and want to do as much as you can for them, it’s important to cut yourself some slack when things get tough. If baby won’t stop crying and it’s causing you to tear your hair out, don’t feel bad about taking five minutes to calm yourself down, or calling a loved one for support. No mother is perfect, especially on the first try.
9. Allow others to help
Just as new mums are entitled to private time with their babies, they’re also allowed to ask for help when they need it.
Parenting becomes easier when you’ve got other people on your side. Partners, family members, friends and babysitters can all help to lift some of the responsibility off your shoulders, giving you time to take care of yourself as well as your baby.
10. Get out the house
Cooped inside for hours? Nothing beats a bit of fresh air. Mothering a newborn baby can sometimes feel like a wholly indoor pursuit. Remind yourself that there’s life outside your window by getting out, and you’ll come home feeling invigorated to take on the next parenting challenge.
It’s safe to take a newborn outside as soon as you’re ready, so there’s no harm in bringing baby with you on your outdoor excursion. Just be sure to pack a blanket and avoid direct sunlight, which could be harmful to your little one’s skin.
11. Rely on routine
As you settle into motherhood, a regular routine will help to give your life structure and maintain long-term wellbeing for you and your family.
After a few weeks of getting to know your baby’s habits, spend an hour or so planning out a weekly schedule, indicating when you’ll get certain tasks done and ideal (if not always accurate) times for eating and sleeping. Be sure to book in some time for yourself – a happy mum means a happy baby.
12. Invest in your family’s future
Now that you’ve started a family, making smart decisions with your money matters more than ever. Choosing the right type of insurance, such as family health insurance and income protection insurance, means that your family will always be financially covered in times of unexpected difficulty, such as long-term absence from work due to ill health or an accident.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2017