Having a baby, whether it is a first or more recent addition to the family, can be overwhelming for everyone in the family, especially the mom. Here are some tips to avoid postpartum depression and other pitfalls of life with a new baby.
• Prepare ahead if possible, so that you have diapers, basic clothes and a place where baby can sleep safely. However, you should avoid buying all those gimmicky items for baby. Most are unnecessary and quite costly. Save the money to let you and your spouse go out for a few meals, or order a few meals in, after baby’s birth.
• Arrange for someone to help with older children, if present, and with meals and laundry. You need time to rest and recover. Even experienced moms will have a difficult time managing a toddler and a newborn. It is always OK to ask for help, and if you ask, others will give it.
• Don’t be a baby hog. New moms naturally want to be near their baby most of the time, yet they do need some time alone. Don’t be afraid to let someone else hold the baby and allow you a break, even a brief nap or outdoor walk. Exercise and rest are keys to recovery.
• Keep baby sleeping close to you, as you will undoubtedly be up during the night, feeding and changing the baby. Remember that baby and mom both sleep better when they are close to each other, so consider a bedside bassinet or other safe-sleeping arrangement that minimizes getting-out-of-bed time and baby-crying time.
• Take a shower every morning to refresh yourself. If you worry about your baby while in the shower, bring the baby – in a stroller or car seat – into the bathroom with you. It is OK for babies to cry for a few minutes, and mom must get a break now and then.
• Continue taking your prenatal vitamins to get enough vitamins D and B for yourself and your baby. Whether you are feeding breast or bottle, your body needs to recover, and the vitamins can help. Also remember to eat properly. Protein- and calcium-containing foods are essential.
• Breastfeed if you can, as that will help your body recover from pregnancy, help your baby be healthy, and even can help prevent postpartum depression, as the breastfeeding hormones support your brain and body. If friends want to bring a meal or come and hold baby while you shower, that’s great, but don’t encourage visitors who just want to spend time with you and baby, as your feeding, sleeping and alone time are precious and in short supply.
• Consider joining a new moms group, through your hospital or other group. Being around others in the same situation and being able to share joys, sorrows and ideas is a great way to maintain some sanity.
• Relax! There are many different ways to raise a baby. What is important is that you give your baby affection and attention. The latest gimmicks and gadgets are not what baby needs. Baby needs you!
Yvonne Brouard is a pediatrician at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto.