Nurturing Your Mental Well-being in postnatal care
Bringing a new life into the world is a beautiful experience, but it’s also an enormous adjustment that can bring about various emotional challenges. As a new mother, taking care of your mental well-being during the postnatal period is crucial for both your own health and the well-being of your baby. This postnatal mental health guide with FAQs is aimed at nurturing your mental well-being through the busy days of early motherhood.
Understanding the importance of nurturing mental well-being in postnatal care
Why is mental well-being in postnatal care important? It’s an important part of the journey for both you and your baby. Postnatal or postpartum mental well-being refers to the emotional and psychological health of mothers after giving birth. It encompasses a range of feelings and experiences that can be both joyous and challenging. Recognising the significance of mental well-being during this period means you can make time for it and also recognise when you may need support. It can also help you acknowledge when things are going well too!
Why is nurturing my mental well-being important during the postnatal period?
Looking after your mental well-being is important at all points in your life. In the postnatal period your emotions can be up and down. It can be natural to feel down because of this. This is one of the reasons it is beneficial to nurture your mental well-being.
Bonding with your baby
Not all mothers feel an immediate bond with their baby. Sometimes it takes time for that bond to develop. Looking after your mental well-being can help you to bond with your baby.
Having a baby can take a toll on your body. Nurturing your well-being during this time can actually help with the physical recovery. Maintaining a positive outlook can have a beneficial impact on this.
After having a baby you will need the support of those around you. Even with the easiest baby in the world, it is normal to require help. Maintaining good mental health can help those relationships with others. This makes relying on this support network easier.
If this is not your first child then nurturing your mental well-being may be more tricky. However, this also makes it even more important. Taking the time to acknowledge and look after your mental health is going to help you as a parent. It means you are more likely to make better decisions. Also, you are more likely to deal with difficult situations in a better way.
When should I seek support with my mental health and well-being in the postnatal period?
Firstly remember there is no stigma associated with seeking support with your mental health. Healthcare professionals are used to mothers needing support with their mental well-being after giving birth.
Around 80% of new mums experience ‘baby blues’. Mums can feel tearful and anxious. This can last for the first 2 weeks after childbirth. Up to 20% of women can develop mental health problems during pregnancy or the first year after childbirth. Here are some signs you may need to speak to your health visitor or G.P about your mental health
- You keep having unpleasant thoughts and are unable to control them.
- Your anxiety is causing physical symptoms such as, increased heart rate, sweating, fast breathing, nausea and feeling faint.
- You are feeling low, anxious or depressed for more than 2 weeks.
- Thinking about harming yourself.
- Feeling hostile or indifferent towards your baby.
You know yourself better than anyone else. If something doesn’t feel right, be sure to mention it.
How can I nurture my mental well-being in postnatal care?
There are many ways for nurturing your well-being. Remember, everyone is different. It is important for you to find ways that help you best. Nurturing means to care and protect. Your mental well-being is important and you need to care for it as best you can. It isn’t always easy to do but here are some ways to nurture your mental well-being in that postnatal period.
Your loved ones are there because they love you. They will want to help and support you where they can. Let them lessen the burden by helping with tasks around the house. This will give you more time to focus on some well-being time.
Sometimes it may be beneficial to join parent groups. Although these sometimes come with their own issues and pressures. They can be a useful way to connect with other Mums. Consider joining apps such as Peanut to meet Mums. This way you can vet the Mums first, and see if you connect before agreeing to meet up.
Make self-care a priority
Being a new Mum is a very busy time. Some days it feels as though there isn’t even time to have a shower and brush your hair. Try to plan some time to do some things for yourself. Can your partner, a family member or friend watch the baby while you enjoy a long shower? If you pre-arrange this time with them, you are more likely to stick with it.
Rest when you can. Newborn babies sleep a lot, but it feels like it’s never for long! During this time it can be tempting to clean the house and do all the chores you need to do. Try to use some of this time to relax. It may be reading a book or catching up on some t.v. Most Mums laugh at the comment ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ as it really isn’t that simple! If you have a partner try to get them to help you during the night. Let them get up earlier with the baby and you get some extra sleep.
Remember you need to fuel yourself. Breastfeeding Mums are often reminded of the importance of eating well and drinking plenty. This is important, this is just as important for Mums who aren’t breastfeeding. You still need to fuel yourself and take care of your basic needs. Meeting basic needs gives you a better chance of nurturing your mental health.
Try to manage stress
The postnatal period can be stressful. There are new pressures on you as a mother, and all your relationships. Where possible try to minimise stress. In your mind have a list of priorities. Is it important to have a tidy living room and kitchen for when guests visit? Don’t worry if your washing is building up. As mentioned previously, get help with things.
Having a newborn can make it difficult to plan your day. If you have other children this usually provides some structure. Playgroups, the school run etc. Try to plan a time in the day for you and stick to it. Even if it doesn’t happen when planned. Make sure that time is set aside for you, to go for a walk, spend 15 minutes reading etc.
Consider using relaxation techniques to nurture your well-being. Allow yourself at least 15 minutes a day to do some self care. Something that makes you feel relaxed. Many mums try gentle yoga, meditation or breath-work techniques. It can be as simple as painting your nails!
Communication is key!
People won’t know how you feel unless you tell them! It can be scary as a new parent to open up. The only reason people would want to know if you are struggling is to help. Being honest and open means you can get the help and support you need with your mental well-being. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
For pregnant Mama’s
If you want to be prepared to nurture your mental health well-being there is a great resource. The charity Tommy’s have created a template for a well-plan. You can access it here and have it ready for when your little one arrives.
This postnatal mental health guide can aid you through nurturing your mental health well-being. Being a new Mum is a very busy time, and you will need to plan the needed time to take care of yourself.
By recognising the importance of mental health, understanding common challenges, seeking support, and practising self-care, you can enhance your emotional well-being and create a positive environment for both you and your baby. Remember that you are not alone on this journey, and there is a wealth of resources and support available to help you as a new mother.
F.A.Q’s about nurturing your mental well-being in the postnatal period
1. What is postnatal mental well-being, and why is it important?
Postnatal mental well-being refers to the emotional and psychological health of mothers after giving birth. It’s important because it can affect your ability to bond with your baby, recover physically, maintain healthy relationships, and make informed parenting choices.
2. How common are postnatal mental health challenges?
Postnatal mental health challenges are more common than you may think. Around 80% of new mums experience ‘baby blues’. Up to 20% of women can develop mental health problems during pregnancy or the first year after childbirth
3. What are the signs of postnatal depression?
Signs of postnatal depression can include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby.
4. How long do “baby blues” typically last?
“Baby blues” are short-lived and usually resolve on their own within the first two weeks after childbirth. If these feelings persist beyond this time frame, it may be time to ask for some help.
5. What can I do to prevent postnatal mental health challenges?
Preventing postnatal mental health challenges involves seeking support from loved ones, joining support groups, practicing self-care, and being aware of the signs and symptoms. Early intervention is key to prevention.
6. Is it okay to ask for help with baby care and household tasks?
Absolutely. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness. Enlisting the support of friends and family can make a significant difference in your postnatal journey.
7. What self-care practices are most effective for postnatal mental well-being?
Self-care practices that can enhance postnatal mental well-being include prioritising rest and sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation, and creating a daily routine that includes time for yourself.
8. When should I consider seeking professional help for postnatal mental health challenges?
If your feelings of sadness, anxiety, or stress persist for more than a few weeks, or if they worsen to the point where they interfere with your daily life and ability to care for your baby, it’s essential to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide tailored support and treatment options.