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Self-care for Parents of Newborns

by Meg Gluckman

Parents of newborns need to take extra care of themselves as they adjust to parenting, recover from birth and meet the needs of their baby.

Here are some ideas to help parents of newborns keep themselves healthy and well:

  1. Prioritize a 4 hour-stretch of sleep and learn more sleep strategies. Getting a block of at least 4 hours can help parents reduce symptoms of sleep deprivation.
  2. Eat protein and iron rich foods. Protein helps stabilize our blood sugar, which affects our mood & energy levels. Iron also affects our energy levels. Put easy-to-eat snacks around the house so that you can reach them when you are feeding the baby.
  3. Boost your Omega-3 intake. Research has shown that the inflammation-fighting Omega-3 oils (especially in fish oil) help reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and help with mood.
  4. Get some adult interaction. It’s ironic that we can feel very isolated and alone when we have a baby, even though we are with someone – our baby – 24/7. New parent drop-in support groups (in addition to PEPS), baby story time at the local library, and parent-baby exercise classes are a great start.
  5. Soak up the sun. Try to get outside every day, even cloudy ones! A short walk with baby can be refreshing and energizing, and gives us our daily dose of Vitamin D.
  6. Exercise daily. Some parents like to get back to the gym, while others find new pleasure in walking with baby or trying a parent-baby exercise class.
  7. Take some time to yourself every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Do something you really enjoy while being baby-free, such as a warm bath, calling a friend, reading a favorite magazine, or getting a massage or a pedicure.
  8. Embrace a rollercoaster of emotions: tears, awe and laughter all have their place in months following your baby’s arrival. Find parenting memoires, movies, blogs, and friends to talk to that are open to the spectrum of emotions and experiences that come with becoming a parent.

About the Author

Meg Gluckman is a certified postpartum doula and facilitates the postpartum emotional support group, Early Days.

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