Healthy Tips for New Parents
by Amy Rothenberg, ND
General recommendations, especially for nursing mothers, include:
Tending to baby and mom. The first 8-10 days after the baby is home, the mom should be in bed most of the day tending to the baby, with her partner, friend, or mother tending to her. Let others do the housework, care for siblings, cook, etc. This reduces the chance of the mother getting a post-partum infection or mastitis, and allows her to recover from the experience of childbirth and to bond with the baby.
Getting help. If resources are available, I ask the parents to figure out what is most needed and then hire good people. If the mom likes being with the baby, have the helper do the things she doesn’t care to do. If what she needs is an hour at the gym, or if she prefers to grocery shop and do some domestic chores herself, then let the helper take the baby out for a walk in the stroller or in the front pack.
If money is scarce, I have the parents look to good friends or family to give the help most needed -doing laundry, preparing meals (in volume and things that can be frozen for later use!) or perhaps giving focused attention to older siblings. I really emphasize the following maxim: forget the idea of trying to do it all yourself! The idea of Mom or Dad home alone raising the kids and keeping the household running was never a very good one. It leads to burn-out , to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and inadequate. I tell new parents, "Show me a mom who hasn't thought once or twice about getting in the car and just driving away, and I'll show you a mom who doesn't know how to drive!"
Caring for yourself. Drink plenty of water and try to eat well. Many new mothers find it difficult to take care of themselves while taking care of the baby, but I remind them that they will be more loving and effective parents if well-fed, rested, and exercised!
Getting out of the house. After the first few weeks, it is important to try getting out of the home every day - with or without the baby - even if just to do errands or meet a friend for tea. This will help the parents preserve their mental health. I encourage all new parents in my practice to make and keep a date with their partner - bring the baby along if you must, but get out of the house for some adult time away from the endless work of keeping house and tending to little ones! It gives parents a chance to reconnect with each other.
Finding supportive role models. Seek the advice of, and spend time with, other moms and parents you admire. Avoid people in your life who are critical of you or not supportive. This is your baby to raise as you see appropriate.
Letting the emotions run. Sudden weeping or uncontrollable laughter is not uncommon; these emotional swings are part and parcel of the hormonal ride of having a new baby. Note that this is true for new parents of adopted children as well. That said, true postpartum depression must be addressed under the care of a qualified health care provider, for the safety of mother and baby alike.
Nursing/pumping milk. For those mothers going right back to work, I encourage nursing or pumping milk for at least 3-6 months, if at all possible. This will be very healthy for your baby and for the mother/baby relationship. I stress this even more if older children in the family have had allergies or asthma. If it’s not possible, don’t worry - many of us were never nursed and we seem to be thriving! Hopefully, your work situation will allow you to be home when you need to be, and those you work for and with will be supportive of your new role as a parent.
Lowering expectations. I always encourage my new moms to aim low, setting very small goals for each day that will be possible to reach. Children grow up fast, and savoring even the mundane is itself a goal.
Thank you to the National Center of Homeopathy for their permission for us to re-print this article from their March 2004 issue of Homeopathy Today. For more information about membership to the NCH or subscribing to their publication, you can contact them at:
National Center for Homeopathy
101 S Whiting Street, Suite 315
Alexandria, VA 22304