Today is the fifth day of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge! The aim is to write a post for every day of the month except for Sundays, with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. This year, since I've just become a mum for the first time, my theme is: 'an A-Z of Newborn Care'. I'll be talking about all the highs and lows of parenting, sharing things that have been useful for me and posting some cute pictures.
For the letter 'E' I have chosen to talk about Energy, Eating and Exercise.
The early weeks of caring for a newborn are usually exhausting for both parents. You're dealing with sleep deprivation and a seemingly endless string of baby care tasks, as well as hosting visitors and trying to keep up with the usual household chores. You may not have time for proper meals, so you end up snacking on convenience foods that you can eat with a baby on your lap. You feel you have no time to exercise. On top of that, you may be recovering from a C-section or complications during labour. Lifting and carrying your baby can also put a strain on your back, arms and shoulders.
All in all, during the newborn stage it's not easy to look after yourself. And yet, this is vitally important! You need to keep physically and mentally healthy in order to properly care for your baby. As a new mum myself, I certainly don't have all the answers, but here are a few tips to boost your energy and help yourself to feel better.
- If you have a partner or friends and family that are willing to help, take shifts looking after the baby. This might be difficult if you are breastfeeding, but you can usually escape for an hour or two. While one parent cares for the baby, the other can use the time to catch up on a little sleep, have a shower or do something enjoyable to help them unwind.
- Get out of the house as much as possible. It might be the last thing you feel like doing, but getting some fresh air or a bit of social time will really boost your mood.
- Give yourself permission to be 'lazy'. No one will care if the floor needs sweeping or the dishes need doing. It's okay to spend a whole day in your pyjamas, watching daytime TV and feeding and cuddling your baby. You'll never have a better excuse.
- Treat yourself to an uplifting fragrance with notes of citrus or grapefruit or buy a zesty body wash and use it daily.
- It's easier said than done to 'sleep when the baby sleeps' but if you can get some down time while your baby naps, it will really help. The chores can wait.
- Invite the right kind of visitors. You want visitors that will help out with the chores, bring you lunch or hold baby while you take a shower, NOT the kind that want to hold the baby while you run around after them, or cause you stress by telling you what you're "doing wrong". It's your prerogative to say "No" to visitors that will drain you.
- Although you might be wanting to shift the weight you gained during pregnancy, now is not the time to diet. It's best to eat healthy, balanced meals if you can. Don't beat yourself up for having the occasional treat.
- Consider taking a vitamin or supplement, especially if you are breastfeeding, as your levels of various nutrients can get quickly depleted. Check with your GP first to see which ones would be useful and safe for you to use.
- If you can, prepare some meals for yourself in advance (ideally while still pregnant) and store them in the freezer. Stock up on tinned food or soups that are quick to prepare but still fairly healthy.
- Snack on bananas, dried fruit, nuts, cereal bars and other healthy foods to keep your energy levels up. Check out Pinterest for some more healthy snack ideas.
- Squeeze in a quick workout in the morning before your baby wakes up. You could do an exercise DVD, follow a video on Youtube, play wii fit, do some simple stretches, run up and down the stairs and so on.
- Go for a brisk walk with your baby in the pram or strapped to you in a carrier.
- Consider involving your baby in your exercise routine. You can hold them while dancing, join a 'Baby Yoga' class or take them swimming. Check out Youtube for lots of Mum and baby workout ideas.
Do you have any tips for keeping your energy levels up during the newborn stage?