Taking care of yourself is one of the hardest jobs, it is much easier to take care of others, treat yourself as you would treat a good friend.perinatal mental health support
Self-care and me-time mean different things for different people. It can be helpful to identify and do at least one thing a day that will make you feel a little better. Try to remember the things that you did previously and try to make time to fit them into your life now. Some women and birthing people find something completely new fits more easily into their life. It is important not to put pressure on yourself though, try not to think in terms of ‘I should…’ but rather ‘I would feel better if…’
Talking to anyone involved in your care can be helpful. This can be a midwife, health visitor, doctor or someone from an organisation like Mothers for Mothers. Your GP can talk to you about different options that are available, and they should be able to talk through the best course of action for you.
Do try and talk to friends and family and those who are close to you. It will help them to understand how you are feeling. If you find it hard to speak about how you are feeling, it might help to write it down; either to give it to them to read or just to read it back yourself. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal or diary of their thoughts and feelings.
Looking after yourself and a baby can be both rewarding and at the same time really hard. People like to help, so try to ask friends and family for help with specific tasks (doing the washing up, hoovering, cooking or looking after the baby), and accept offers of help that feel useful to you.
It can be hard to leave your home to meet other parents. If you are able to get out it’s really helpful to be able to meet other parents in your local area. Try out different groups and activities to see which one suits you and your baby. You are very welcome to attend one of the Mothers for Mothers groups with your baby / children.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be out all the time though, only do what makes you feel better. For your baby, being with you and being involved in your daily activities, in or out of the home, is enough.
Sometimes having a simple, flexible routine for the family can offer some structure and reassurance. For others free flow days, responding to each other’s needs works better. Give both a try and find out what is best for you, it might be a mixture of both! There is no right and wrong.
Sometimes it’s hard to sleep, even if you are exhausted. It’s important to still try to rest as much as possible though, perhaps listen to music or explore mindfulness techniques, there are lots of way or apps to help with this.
Some women and birthing people find that a healthy diet can help, and so can avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Sometimes it can be hard to find time to eat anything at all though when you are looking after a small baby; just eating something is better than nothing. Perhaps try keeping some simple healthy snacks to hand, such as fresh/dried fruit, and remember to try and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Exercise can be really helpful. If you don’t have anyone to look after your baby, you could look for activities where you can bring them along. There are lots of online exercise classes to choose from, from gentle yoga through to more energetic sessions – you could try out some of these on the NHS Choices website.
Try to be kind to yourself and remember small steps can make a big difference. It’s ok to seek help or support. Things will get brighter and you will feel better.