5 Lifestyle Changes New Parents Can Make To Improve Their Health

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Having a new baby puts your life on fast-forward. Between getting up in the middle of the night, managing a household, and everything in between, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. But this is exactly the time when you need to be looking after yourself even more than usual. The demands of new parenthood can be stressful and take their toll on both body and mind, with research showing that new parents are at higher risk of depression and post-natal anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As well as taking care to get enough rest, eat well, and manage stress effectively, there are plenty of little changes you can make that will have a big impact on your health as a new parent.

Make sleep a priority

One of the biggest indicators of how your health may be affected by your new role as a parent is how much sleep you get. Getting enough sleep is crucial for our physical health, but it also hugely impacts our mental well-being too, meaning that new parents are at a greater risk of experiencing anxiety and depression if they don’t get enough. So it’s essential to make sleep a priority, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. While new babies need to be fed frequently throughout the night, which means you should be getting up anyway, exhaustion can seriously impact your ability to parent effectively, as well as your physical health and mental wellbeing. For effective sleep, it’s important to create an environment that’s conducive to rest, both in terms of physical surroundings and your mindset. It’s also essential to be kind to yourself, as well as your new baby, which means taking whatever help you can get so that you can get the sleep you need.

Get support

Whether you’re struggling with low mood or anxiety, or you’re just generally feeling overwhelmed by the demands of new parenthood, it’s important to get support. With some careful self-care, as well as a few small changes, it’s possible to not only manage your feelings but also improve your mental health as a new parent. What kind of support is right for you? There are a number of options available, from talking therapies to support groups. It’s important to find a support network that works for you, which means trying out a few different options until you find the right one. Support networks can also be a great way to find like-minded parents with whom you can share experiences and parenting tips. Many parents find that an added sense of connection and belonging as part of a support network really helps them to deal with the stresses and pressures of new parenthood.

Eat well – and more of it

Expectant mothers are always told to eat for two, but what about new parents? The demands of parenthood alone are likely to result in you needing to eat more, as well as eat better, in order to meet your own and your baby’s needs. You might also find that your metabolism slows down a little as a result of hormonal changes in the months following birth. As well as eating more, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the right kinds of nutrients as a new parent. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding, you’ll need to be eating more iron-rich foods, as well as vitamin B- and C-rich foods to support your immune system. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re getting enough calcium to support healthy bone development in your new baby.

Exercise regularly

New parenthood is a great time to start exercising, particularly if you haven’t been doing so previously. And even if you have been exercising regularly before becoming a parent, it’s important to continue doing so in order to counterbalance the effects of new parenthood and reduce stress. Exercising during pregnancy can help to ease some of the discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as backache, as well as improving your general mood. There is also evidence to suggest that exercising can help to prevent common pregnancy issues, such as gestational diabetes. Exercising while you’re breastfeeding is great for your general health too, helping to improve your metabolism, as well as reducing stress, which is important since too much stress can have a negative effect on your baby. In fact, research shows that exercising while you’re breastfeeding can actually have added benefits since it can increase the production of breast milk.

Don’t forget to take care of your mental health

As well as taking care of your physical health, it’s important to remember to look after your mental health as a new parent. With stress levels understandably high in the early days, it’s important to find ways to manage it effectively. As well as exercising regularly, which has been proven to help to relieve stress, it’s important to find a way to decompress regularly. Whether this is taking a few minutes to do a mindfulness exercise, or making time for some different creative activity, it’s important to find a way to relax to help to reduce stress. Taking the time to look after your mental health is important, not only to help you to parent effectively but also so that you can avoid the impact of long-term stress, which can have a negative effect on your physical health too.

Incorporate relaxation into your routine

In addition to actively finding time to relax, it’s important to make relaxation a part of your routine, particularly as a new parent. This can be achieved through meditation and mindfulness, relaxation exercises, as well as activities such as reading and gardening. Regular relaxation can help you to reduce stress, as well as increase your general well-being, while also helping you to sleep better. It can also be a great way to connect with your baby, as well as your partner; many new parents find that being able to take time out from the day-to-day helps them to stay connected with their feelings. And it’s important to set aside some time to relax and recharge, particularly if you’re sleep-deprived, which can seriously impact your ability to function. Amidst the hustle of new parenthood, it’s easy to lose track of yourself, so it’s important to make relaxation a priority too.

Conclusion

As well as taking care of your physical health, it’s important to look after your mental health as a new parent. It’s possible to avoid the potential impact of long-term stress by taking time out to relax and recharge regularly. Regular relaxation can help to reduce stress and increase your general well-being, while also helping you to sleep better. New parenthood can be tough, but it’s important not to forget to take care of yourself, even though you may not have time to do so. With a few small changes, it’s possible to make a big impact on your health as a new parent.

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