Whether you are a first-time mother or have 3 other children, looking after a newborn is a tremendous challenge. But it is possible to keep the entire family healthy (physically and mentally), and the following suggestions should help in that regard.
Firstly, staying active is important for every member of the family. Obviously, your newborn child isn’t going to be on the treadmill any time soon, but you need to keep your body moving so that you can stay healthy and happy. Think of it as a necessary part of looking after your baby; you have to be in good shape to be at your best for taking care of your family. Maybe you and your family could exercise together.
Every time you take your baby out for fresh air, you could use it as an excuse to properly stretch your legs. Fresh air and sunshine are as essential for mental health as they are for physical health. During those first 6-8 weeks post partum, don’t push yourself to exercise, but do be intentional about gentle activity.
Bring the rest of the family with you and head to park with a stroller. If you have other kids, then they could play with a frisbee or simply run around whilst you stroll around with your baby and try to reach your goal of 10,000 steps for the day. It can be hard to fit physical activity into a busy lifestyle as a mother (especially when you have a newborn), but you just need to rethink your routine. Make sure you keep your body moving and stay healthy.
Getting into a good eating pattern is vital for all of us, whatever our age. That’s why you need to ensure everyone eats well in your family (including you). Obviously, starting off with your newborn, the goal is to give them all of the nutritional goodness they need during those important formative months. This can be tricky, as it’s harder to feed a newborn than a grown child or an adult. If you are breastfeeding (and even early during pregnancy), what you eat impacts your baby. You might want to check out the Early Life Health Nutrition Coalition for some dietary advice. This will help you to ensure you’re meeting the nutrient requirements for your baby. As for everyone else in the family, make sure you place importance on their diets too. Get plenty of whole foods in your meals; natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are packed full of the nutritional goodness you need.
This final piece of advice is probably difficult for anyone in your family to achieve right now. Your newborn baby probably cries throughout the night, and everyone else in the house wakes up along with them. Is it possible for everyone to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern? Well, it is if you get your timing right. A good strategy to adopt is mirroring your baby’s sleeping habits. Encourage everyone in the family to do the same. Go to bed early too. That way, even if there are disturbances, there’s time to get back to sleep and get the 8 hours necessary for a healthy sleeping pattern.
You might even want to try napping during the day whilst they nap; you could ask a friend or a family member to keep an eye on your baby whilst you sleep. Just don’t dismiss the importance of getting the rest you need. Sleep deprivation can affect your physical and mental health on so many levels. You need your strength so you can be a good mother but also a happy mother. Remember, you’re just as important as any other member of your family.