On some level, you knew you were going to be tired when you had a baby, so the profound exhaustion that comes with being a new parent shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Maybe you thought it would be like exam season at University when you pulled an all-nighter or two.
You had no idea becoming a parent would mean pulling about 90 all-nighters in a row!
Hang in there, it gets better! We have some self-care tips to help you feel more like yourself until your baby figures out this “sleeping” thing.
Well-intentioned friends will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but we know better. Look, newborn babies are crappy sleepers. They take little cat naps and will wake you up as you drift off. That’s just frustrating! Besides, nap time may be the first time you have had two free hands that day.
Instead, use one of baby’s daytime snoozes to do something that makes you feel human again. Take a hot shower. Change into clean clothes, even if it’s just a fresh pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. Eat a hot meal using both of your hands. If you have older children, spend some one-on-one time with them.
It’s tempting to use sugary treats for an energy lift, but it’s a short-lived boost, and you’re just going to feel worse when it wears off. Instead, choose nutritious, high-protein snacks that will leave you feeling full longer. This is especially true for nursing mothers who have high caloric needs, and even higher nutritional needs. Try some Greek yogurt with a little fresh fruit, or a (small) handful of raw almonds and fresh veggies.
Remember that fatigue is a natural side-effect of sleep deprivation, but it’s also a common sign of dehydration. Leave full, reusable water bottles in all the places you normally sit, or where you stand and sway if yours is a baby who just won’t tolerate being put down.
It’s OK to indulge in the occasional cup of coffee, but essential oils can be just as effective. Cinnamon, cardamom, lemon, fennel and clove give you a boost, without keeping you awake when you finally are able to get some rest.
If you don’t have a diffuser, you can try adding a couple of drops of essential oil to a bath, or simmering along with some water in a pot in the kitchen.
Like all phases in parenting, this too shall pass.