Five tips to look after your mental health as a new parent

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Five tips to look after your mental health as a new parent

Five tips to look after your mental health as a new parent

Looking after your own mental health doesn’t feel like a top priority when becoming a new parent, but it’s important to take care of yourself so that you are able to take care of your baby. Decorating the nursery, washing dozens of tiny white vests and packing a hospital bag…there’s a lot to do before baby arrives, but nothing will quite prepare you for the overwhelming journey ahead.

Becoming a new parent is very exciting but also has many challenges. Here’s some top tips to look after your mental health as a new parent

Accept help

Don’t be afraid to accept an offer of help or to ask for help. Whether it’s with cooking dinner, cleaning the house or caring for your baby, it’s good to be able to lean on others. No doubt loved ones will want to help and although you may feel like a burden, they will not see it this way.

It’s also good to connect with other new parents by joining a Facebook group or setting up a WhatsApp chat - these are a great way of sharing ideas or asking questions, plus they’re more likely to respond at 3am when everyone else is sleeping!

Exercise with baby

Those first few days at home, all wrapped up in your baby bubble are precious, but when caring for a new baby the days can seem long and repetitive. Walking with your baby has many benefits; including fresh air, exercise and a change of scenery. Whether you have baby in a sling/carrier or in a pram you may find that the fresh air will have the added bonus of helping baby to sleep. The exercise is great for your own mental health and the change of scenery will be good if you’re bored of the same four walls. It might also be nice to walk with your partner or meet a friend for some adult conversation along the way!

You could also check your local area for any parent and baby outdoor exercise classes, such as ‘buggy fit’.

Eat well

When you’re taking care of your baby, you can easily loose track of time and forget to eat and drink. Suddenly your time is all consumed with this bundle of joy. However, it is important that you take care of yourself so perhaps think about prepping meals in advance, or batch cooking some of your favourites and freezing them for later. It’s easy to miss lunch and then grab a snack in the afternoon so have some healthy options available. When feeding baby, it's the perfect time for you to have a large glass of water and something to eat yourself.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet will make you feel better in general and give you more energy to keep going throughout the day…and night!

Make time for yourself

A lot easier said than done, but try to find time to remember yourself as a person and not just as a parent. Even if it’s just 30 minutes time-out so you can have a soothing bath, catch up on a favourite TV show, or have a nap.

It’s also important to express yourself and talk about your feelings. This can help a great deal – whether you talk to your partner, friend, relative or a professional (such as a health visitor) it is key to moving forward positively.

Self-care, date nights and phone calls with your friends – it’s good to unwind and have fun!

Have fun with baby

Smiling and laughing is infectious and can lift your mood a great deal, so have fun entertaining your baby. You could join a baby group or online group, and there are interactive TV programmes designed with babies in mind, such as The Baby Club on CBeebies.

If you can get to a local baby group, such as baby massage, these are a great way to bond with your baby and meet other parents.

Or, enjoy time at home with sensory play, messy play, reading books or playing / dancing to music. Baby will love to watch you make funny faces, clap your hands and stick your tongue out. And don’t forget to capture those precious moments!

For additional services and support we’ve compiled a list of handy resources for new parents below

1) Family Action – Services including Children Centres

2) NHS – Health visitors and clinics

3) Baby Centre – Ideas, guidance and tips

4) NSPCC – Mental health and parenting

Lastly, don’t forget to baby-proof your home ready for key developmental milestones. ‘Get low’ so you can see the room(s) from your baby’s vantage point. Remember, kitchen cupboards, safety gates, other cabinets and drawers, plants, heavy items and electronic devices.

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