Postpartum is hard. Lack of sleep, eating on the run, feeling touched out - it all builds and we eventually lose ourselves if we don't make our wellbeing a priority. I recently discovered the acronym SNOWBALL and it's such an easy reminder to help us mothers (fathers too!) focus on a couple of areas to keep us from feeling the burnout of parenthood.
Sleep: How many hours did you need to sleep before baby? 7,10? Although your sleep will be broken up to care for your baby, aim to get the same amount of sleep throughout the night/day that you would have received prior to having a baby. Sleep is a priority. Nap when baby naps. Sleep deprivation affects the prefrontal cortex, which handles reasoning, and the amygdala, which deals with emotion. A good nap can give a fresh restart to an emotionally taxing day. Have multiple children? Set them up with a quiet activity during nap time in a safe space with you. Set the boundaries around quiet time and doze off. If breastfeeding co-sleep and/or bedshare. Read "Sleeping with Your Baby" by Dr. James McKenna if you're unsure if this is the right path for you and your family.
Nutrition: The importance of nutrition doesn't stop now that you've given birth. You will feel your best by avoiding excess caffeine, sugar and processed carbohydrates. Focus on quality protein. Elaborate meals may be difficult in this season. Having easy access to healthy snacks will help set you up for success. Smoothies, salads, hard boiled eggs, protein balls, bone broth and organic fruits/veggies are all easy make ahead foods to help sustain your energy to keep you feeling your best.
Omega-3: Omega-3s can be found in fish and nuts. Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. They've also been shown to prevent and treat anxiety and depression in new moms. Omega-3 vitamins are also great for supplementing when your not able to obtain enough through your diet. Consult with your hcp prior to starting any supplements.
Walk: Gentle exercise can make a huge impact on your mood. Start slow and listen to your body. The easiest way to get your body moving is by walking. When possible get outside. Exposing yourself to early morning sunlight and evening sunlight has many health benefits. One of which will help with sleep! Walk in your yard barefoot. This is called grounding or earthing. Emerging scientific research supports the concept that the Earth's electrons induce multiple physiological changes of clinical significance, including reduced pain, better sleep and lower anxiety.
Baby Breaks: I don't think I need to provide the evidence based research on why this one is important, we all know it needs to happen. According to Utah Maternal Mental Health, you should ideally get at least two hours at a time, three times a week. Don't worry, I laughed too, NOT practical in our western culture! However, we do need to prioritize some time away and that will look differently for everyone. Put it on the calendar, you will be a much better mother, partner and friend when you block out this time for yourself.
Adult Time: This may be easier to pair with the above baby break. It can be a coffee date with a friend or an evening out with your spouse. Or if easier, schedule play dates with other moms. The point is you're socializing with another ADULT. We all have the need to connect and if you're catching yourself feeling overwhelmed in the trenches of parenting, time with another mom who is in the trenches with you can be the mental/emotional boost you need.
Liquids: Water is good for you. That is all. This is the easiest one to implement and the one I suggest to start with first. Stay hydrated mommas!
Laughter: One of my favorites and it requires little to no resources to make happen. Watch a funny movie if you're feeling blue or call a friend who always makes you laugh. Be silly with your children. Reach out for help if you're having a hard time finding any happiness in this season and things that once made you laugh/happy no longer give you that sense of joy. You deserve to feel well.
Get your SNOWBALL guide below!
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/ https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307334#effects-on-the-body https://www.postpartum.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1E-White-and-Smith-Quick-Tips-for-Emotional-Wellness-Handout.pdf