Guest blog post by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante
Lately I have been blessed with opportunities to connect with mothers adjusting to life with a new baby. They have shared their experiences and struggles with me and what strikes me the most is just how much mothers take upon their shoulders, often without complaint, sometimes with a very small support network. Mothers; what cannot be stressed enough is to practice daily self-care and to acknowledge that time for yourself is much deserved!
One recurring theme that comes up among mother’s stories is how hard it is to function after a night with very little sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause poor decision-making, increase the likelihood of depression and affect the quality of relationships.
A few things for new parents to keep in mind are to:
1. Discuss how the childcare and household duties will be managed before the baby is born. Will parents take turns getting up at night? If the mother is the one to handle night feedings, will the father handle all the laundry? Remember, what works for one family may not work for another.
2. Say no to added responsibility. You may feel obligated to join the board of your older child’s school, but doing so with a newborn at home will be too overwhelming.
3. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Ignore the household chores, emails and phone calls.
4. Say yes to help. If family and friends offer to drop off meals, tidy up the living room, or watch the baby while you take a nap, take them up on it.
5. Know that sleep loss can lead to mood changes. Some mothers are susceptible to symptoms of the baby blues and postpartum depression.
Some signs of postnatal depression are:
• inability to laugh and find enjoyment in things
• blaming oneself unnecessarily when things go wrong
• feeling anxious or worried for no good reason
• feeling scared or panicky for no good reason
• difficulty sleeping because of unhappiness
• feeling sad or miserable and excessive crying
• thoughts of harming oneself
• fear of being alone with baby
• difficulty making decisions
Be open with others you trust about how you are coping. Keeping connected with others can alleviate feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, and being overwhelmed
Remember that lack of sleep will not last forever. Most children eventually sleep through the night which means that parents will be able to have a restful night’s sleep again.
Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the founder of Nexus Counselling and a licensed counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She provides counselling services at the Nest Family Centre on Stafford St. and is a proud member of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council. Cheryl has experience helping clients with issues such as grief, depression, relationship difficulties, parenting, aging and illness. She can be reached at (204) 297-6744 or firstname.lastname@example.org .