Your maternal mental health is as important as your new baby’s well-being. That said, here are some things you can do if you’re an overwhelmed new mom.
Before I gave birth, I came across a social media post that says women shouldn’t be scared of giving birth. It is what follows that is really hard. As a new mom (with respect to those who had complications and difficult delivery), I say it is true.
Postpartum must be the least talked about topic in becoming a mother – which is weird because everything seems crazy when you’re in that period.
Amidst the happiness brought by your prayers coming to life, what they forget to tell you is that the first months (or the so-called 4th trimester) can be overwhelming.
What makes things overwhelming for a new mom?
You are adjusting but to a lot. Your body is recovering from childbirth which means you have plenty of body aches, you are weighed down by fatigue, and you are ruled by fluctuating hormones which can lead to mood swings and crying spells (not so good to meet you, baby blues!).
You are a mommy now and though it sounds cool, it also means you have new responsibilities. Meeting the demands of a newborn will require you to wake up many times every night. Sleep deprivation back to back with a baby crying for who knows why is a recipe that can make you lose your mind.
Other challenges may arise such as problems with breastfeeding which could be frustrating to a mom who wants nothing but to give her baby liquid gold.
For those first months, you will also find that your time revolves around totally different things than it did before giving birth. You will be full of questions and they will include the basics such as when can I take a bath?
And to remind you of your constants, there is housework to be conquered as well as meals to be prepared.
All these things you’d want to deal with head-on – only you don’t have the energy and time to spend.
What can you do when you are an overwhelmed new mom?
Here’s a revelation: No one is expecting you to be on top of it all. There’s a lot on your plate so give yourself a break. This is a phase and rest assured it won’t last forever. Do these tips below to lighten the load you’re feeling.
1. Ask for help
A gentle reminder here that you don’t have to do everything alone. It is normal to depend on your husband and don’t feel guilty if you think he’s doing more than you. Remember both of you are in this together.
You can also take some weight off your shoulders by asking willing loved ones to tackle specific house chores. If a good friend offers to bring in food or run an errand or take care of the baby, accept their help. It takes a village to raise a kid anyway.
There are times also when you just want to have your place by yourself. It’s okay to limit visitors, especially this time of the pandemic.
If you seem hopeless for more than two weeks and is feeling like everything is wrong, see your doctor. Any new mom can experience Postpartum Depression and it is important to receive treatment should you have it.
2. Choose sleep
I know this might not look ideal because every time you choose sleep, you don’t cross anything off your mile-long to-do list. But whenever you choose to sleep, you choose to honor your body and the hard work it has done. Choose to help your body recover so it can grease its gears. If you’re meeting your baby’s basic needs, you are doing enough.
3. Deal with one thing at a time
After you’ve gotten your sleep and you’ve attended to your baby, pick one thing to do at a time. Prioritize, focus on one task, and pat yourself for a job well done. The thing about being a parent is that your house can’t have it all at the same time. Cleaning the kitchen, the dining, the bathroom. They will all have their turn.
Avoid promising yourself that you will conquer a bunch because chances are, you won’t. Planning is great but don’t be too rigid.
4. Let go and learn
New parents have expectations of what life with a newborn would be like. They get disappointed and overwhelmed when things turn out differently. Why won’t baby sleep even though I already did this and that? Why won’t baby feed on me? Even though they prepared for everything they can think of, things can still be out of their control.
Struggles are normal and take heart in knowing you will figure things out eventually. Manage your expectations as you navigate this new chapter.
5. Don’t worry too much
Sometimes babies cry for no reason. When my son won’t stop crying in the middle of the night, anxious me was half expecting neighbors to knock on our door. Optimistic me was hoping that if they did, maybe they can lend a hand. 😬 Remember, people who have had kids understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there before.
And if you have work, please tell me you’re on maternity leave!
6. Talk to other moms
I think there’s a special bond shared by those who just gave birth. For one, you’re all qualified to be zombies. 🧟♀️ Talking about the highs and lows will make you feel better because you’ll remember you are not alone. Plus, you may get tips and inspiring stories from each other.
7. Step out
And I don’t mean leaving the house just for pedia appointments. Although Covid-19 made this tough, you can take precautions and still get the benefit of a change in scenery. Put your baby on a stroller or wrap him in a carrier and then step outside. Walking counts as exercise and breathing in the fresh air can help clear your mind. Minimal exposure to the sun can already shift your mood. Go out with friends for an hour or two and you’ll come home recharged.
8. Do something you love
Being overwhelmed and wanting a break from your new role is normal. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. You are just an individual who has a life before you became someone’s mom. So whatever it is that you enjoy doing, little by little, work your way to find time for it.
Discuss it with your husband so you both can make arrangements in your schedule. You can’t pour from an empty cup so might as well let your passion fuel you. Your family will benefit when you’re revitalized.
9. Take comfort in knowing it’s normal
Acknowledge your feelings and don’t try to downplay them. At the same time, know that it will get better. The time will come when you won’t have to deal with everything at once. Because your body is healed, your little one is sleeping through the night, your baby is comfortably feeding on his own.
I hope this helps you feel less overwhelmed. Being a mother indeed is life-changing. From being a confident and reliable woman, suddenly it can make you feel like you’re drowning and incapable. But that’s part of being a parent.
In fact, you can still be overwhelmed even when you’re not a rookie mom anymore. If we talk about the great things you have right now, I bet it will outnumber whatever mom stress you feel.
Spend time with your newborn. For real, spend time because they grow up so fast. Live the moment with them. I wish I focused more on my son than on thinking about how I miss my pre-baby life. Are you thinking the same?