Dr. Greene’s advice on taking care of yourself with a new baby at home:
New mothers are excited about bringing home their newborn, but most of the time it’s not long until Mom feels the stress of the baby’s constant need. Even little things like taking a shower or running an errand may feel impossible when a baby’s in the mix. Moms need time to themselves away from the baby, even if it’s just a moment here and there.
Here are some suggestions:
- Many children are comforted by the sound of running water and will sit peacefully close by while Mom or Dad takes a shower. Make sure the baby is dry, fed, and comfortable. Then put the baby in an infant seat or car seat. Take the little bundle into the bathroom so the baby can see Mom or Dad and hear a parent’s voice. When the baby gets a little older, games of peek-a-boo work very well from the shower!
If you don’t have a baby who enjoys shower time, try one of these ideas:
- Set aside a time each day that is Dad’s special time to spend with the baby and Mom’s time to take care of her own personal needs. Establish a period that is long enough for Mom to really feel that she has had a break, but not so long that Dad feels abandoned. Even a brief amount of time can make a huge difference to a new mom! (Hint: Consider including a five-minute soak in a steamy mineral salts bath. It can seem like an hour to tired muscles.)
- Arrange to trade childcare with another new mom from your neighborhood on a regular basis. If both babies spend an hour with one mom, then an hour with the other, each mom has one very busy hour and one hour to herself. It is ideal if both moms live in the same building or on the same block, but be creative.
- If you don’t know of other new moms in your area, you may find older neighbors who are unable to spend time with grandchildren of their own and would love to spend time with your baby on a regular basis. Including them in your extended family can be a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Find out if Dad’s company offers “paternity leave” so the two of you can share more of the responsibility for the baby in those precious first few weeks.