Pregnancy and parenthood are stressful times, and we all need a little more support. Creating a plan to ensure that all of your physical, mental, and emotional needs are met can help cope with stress and alleviate symptoms.
- Nutrition: Make that you are eating and drinking water; even something so simple can be easy to forget! Try to choose foods that are high in protein and iron. These help stabilize our blood sugar and keep our energy levels and mood more stable. If you can, recruit friends or family to bring you groceries or prepared food.
- Exercise: Movement helps clear our mind and release happy hormones. This looks different to everyone. Some people like going for walks with baby, doing exercise videos at home, or joining a parent-and-baby or prenatal class. Extra bonus points for anything that gets you outdoors!
- Sleep: Easier said than done, but getting a 4 hour stretch of sleep can really help our moods. Partners or other family members can be a big help here, if they can take over some nighttime feedings or watch baby during the day so you can nap. Or if you feel like you just can't rest until the house is clean, ask them to do some dishes or laundry!
- Clear Your Mind: Try to get some time with other adults, either at home or out of the house. Some parents also like having a postpartum doula or home visitor stop by a few times in those first weeks to get additional support.
- Get Social Support: Sometimes all we need to do is vent! Having friends or others who understand can be a huge help. Look into parent groups in your community or online. For pregnant Detroiters, one great option is getting involved in the city's SisterFriends project.
- Do Something YOU Like: Parenthood is a huge identity shift, but it is important to find ways to continue doing the things you loved before. Try to get a few minutes a day (even just 10!) do relax on your own, do something indulgent, or participate in a hobby you love.
- Embrace the Emotions: Despite what we see in the media, being pregnant or having a new baby isn't all happy! At some point, we all feel a variety of emotions - anger, sadness, boredom, frustration, excitement, happiness. Just let yourself feel them without judgment!
[Adapted from "Self Care for Parents of Newborns" by Meg Gluckman]