Becoming a new parent is a transformational experience. Many of us don’t have the knowledge or experience because we haven’t been on the other side to know what we need for support. For all moms, whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, hands down the most important part of the puzzle is better care of your mental health and emotional wellbeing. This is especially true for moms that are working full time outside the home. Postpartum mental health is all about filling your cup so that you can have love and energy to share with your family.
Transition to Motherhood
If I were to really pair down what was important after having my first baby, it would be my own wellbeing. Unfortunately, society doesn’t look at Moms’ postpartum mental health as a major factor in the long term success as a parent. The focus should be on Mom and the well-being of the family in those early months. However, often times most visitors focus on the baby and the “stuff” they need.
The days ahead, going into parenthood, you need the “energy”, capacity, and strength to cope with all the various phases. So if that foundational period isn’t strong, it can leave you depleted, lost, resentful, depressed, and anxiety ridden.
Setting up a Postpartum Experience with Ease
As I entered my third time becoming a mom, now a boy, I set up a few things to assist my family’s well-being in the practical and sustainable way during my postpartum recovery. These recommendations can be for a first time mom or a more seasoned mom growing her family.
Part of my experience the third time around was doing something that I was not accustomed to before: asking for help. In the scheme of life, this short period is not a burden to others and by supporting your family in the beginning, they help with so much of your healing, recovery, and long term success.
Here are some of my postpartum mental health tips for new parents that want to set up their postpartum experience for a successful foundation and long term success.
1. Meal Train
My best friend set up a meal train for family and friends to sign up. I didn’t do this with my first or second children. Most women don’t want to be a burden or accept help, but this can be life changing in early days of sleep deprivation. It took less than 10 minutes to create and I sent her a spreadsheet with friend’s and family’s email addresses.
2. Postpartum Doula Support
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having more hands to help you while you recover during your healing, recovery, and being extremely sleep deprived. Having a postpartum doula that can support YOUR well-being as the mother is incredibly valuable. We live in a culture that encourages “getting back to work” and not easing your healing and recovery. It was anxiety provoking that I felt I needed to accelerate my healing process in order to go back to work; this boggled my mind. No matter if you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, doulas can help with light house cleaning, meal prep, bottle washing, laundry, and taking care of things so you can focus on the simple things of caring for your newborn and resting if you can.
3. House Cleaner
We have a house cleaner come bi-weekly to to our home. It’s been such a life saver for keeping our home clean and organized while having young kids. It’s something we prioritize in the budget.
4. Lactation Consultant
If you plan to breastfeed, don’t wait on scheduling this later. You can get resources and phone numbers from the hospital early on to have a meeting set up within days of coming home from the hospital. With the pandemic, they can be either virtual or in person. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny offers in-home visits in MA and RI, as well as virtual visits everywhere else.
5. Postpartum Mental Health Support / Therapy / Coaching
In those early days, weeks, and months of motherhood, no matter how close you are with family or friends, it can be isolating. There are many resources out there for virtual support groups, 1-1 therapy, coaching, and ways to connect with other moms while you’re going through the journey. It’s helpful to build your support and confidence even if you’ve gone through the experience multiple times.
6. Hand-me-down Clothes
This may be one for moms with more kids down the line but you could do it with your first too. I asked 2-3 moms at my daycare who have boys if they had clothes they were looking to offload. I have enough clothes for the first year with our third baby. This is HUGE! ASK and you will receive.
7. Utilize Facebook Marketplace
With your first child, many times women have a baby shower and receive much of what they need but you can find nearly all the stuff you need for a baby in used or like new condition in your local area. There are so many websites that carry like new or gently used items and those cost saving can really help while growing your family. Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend you use a car seat that you don’t know its history, such as a crash, missing parts, or manufacture date.
8. Simplify: Diaper Ordering & Online Grocery Ordering
Today’s families are so busy and if you plan to return to work after a few months, it’s good to have a few things in order that are on “autopilot.” You can order diapers in advance for 1-2 months and also create a “general” grocery list where each week it has 80% of the items where you know you or your partner can just auto load them in and create the order. This means less thinking and brain crunching all the time.
9. Mother’s Helper
In the early months of having a baby, I deprioritized any care for myself and never did anything daily or weekly to support my own postpartum mental health and well-being. I learned, after having my second child, that being with your kids 24/7 can deplete you in so many ways. My husband and I would have benefited from a mother’s helper, as we didn’t do dates or get out for ourselves individually. I was sitting with a narrative that I was supposed to be with my kids all the time and tend to their every need. As the months went on, I didn’t have the skills or foresight to know how much this was going to affect me in the long run. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Let Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny help you find the perfect match with a Newborn Care Expert, Nanny, or Household Manger.
10. Carve Time for Yourself During the Week
Even in the newborn stage and early months, it’s important for mom to be able to get out a bit and try to find some ways to “fill her cup.” I didn’t do this at all and I was all consumed and 24/7 with my baby which wasn’t very healthy. It would have helped me to go on walks, schedule appointments, and take care of myself. I now have some acupuncture appointments already scheduled as a part of my self care that I enjoy this time around. Parenting should not be viewed as an Olympic sport and a race to “do it all” and everything. In fact, there should be more education and support on how to create sustainability and systems in place to support yourself and your family for the various phases of raising kids.
11. Don’t Forget About Your Partner (even though you’re exhausted)
I felt completely and utterly exhausted in the beginning months to the point where I could not fathom thinking about expending any additional energy to spend time with my husband, even if it was in our home. This is true for many parents. I think the depletion, exhaustion, and anxiety were something that made this a very low priority on the list. It’s one of the areas that I feel if moms had better support for their postpartum mental health, well-being, healing, and recovery it may shift the experience. As a new mom and parent, you don’t know what you don’t know. Having kids becomes an all consuming job that is hard to see through the forest.
Many of these items listed above may seem like a lot in the beginning. However, what new parents don’t always see is that working full time and raising a young family is a huge undertaking with logistics and a mental load. Getting support systems and resources in place so you don’t burn out can mitigate some of the stress that often accompanies women returning back to work. Much of this list I developed after having my first two kids and reflecting on how much those early days and months would influence my first year into parenthood and beyond.
Mom Coach Support
As a working mom coach, many of my clients arrive at a point where they are trying to continue to “do it all” on limited resources and bandwidth. This is a recipe for burnout and overwhelm. Through my coaching process, I hope to reach and help more moms understand and reflect. While having a career and roles you enjoy satisfies some professional needs, it also impacts other parts of you that may not be visible on the outside surface. Like our internal health, nervous system, rhythms, our kids’ needs, and our priorities in terms of time and values. Each working mom and parent has a different formula for this and it’s not as cut and dry as outsourcing everything.
Our society is running on fumes and is stuck in a productivity mindset where it becomes quite impossible to keep up with the demands of work and family life. So, with anything in life, it’s about progress not perfection. It may have taken me some years to figure this out, but creating a nurturing and thriving lifestyle is more important to me and I hope it will be for the next generation to come. If you want to learn more about 1-1 coaching and my services for working parents, please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website.
About The Author
Christine Anastasia is a Master Certified Life Coach and also a young working parent. She is a mom of three, Emma (6), Zoe (3), and Alexander (1). Her coaching services and workshops help new and seasoned parents who are juggling work and raising a family. At their core, all parents want to be the best versions of themselves. She helps them prioritize their well-being so they can thrive. www.christineanastasia.com