How to help support your mental health with a new baby

Perinatal mental health challenges

Having a new baby may be a blessing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges that come with it. From sleepless nights to endless worrying about whether you’re do something the right way, becoming a parent isn’t as relaxing as movies make it seem!

It will take time to get to know your child and establish a new routine. So be kind with yourself and your child, and go at your own speed.

You’ll experience a range of emotions, including pleasure, pride, and love, as well as anxiety, tearfulness, and tension. These emotions are natural, and you can expect them as you adjust to your new position.

Having a child is a significant life event. It’s normal to have a variety of emotions during pregnancy and after delivery. However, suppose any uncomfortable feelings begin to have a substantial impact on your daily life. In that case, you may be suffering from a perinatal mental health condition.

what are perinatal mental health problems?

Perinatal mental health (PMH) issues are mental health issues that arise during pregnancy or in the first year after a child’s birth. 

That may sound vague, but it is important to remember that PMH issues can display themselves in a wide variety of ways. There is no right or wrong way to be feeling things, especially if you aren’t feeling your best during or after the birth of your new child. If it is making it hard to do the things you would normally do or making you feel negative emotions, then it’s something that you deserve help with.

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It’s so important to remember that you’re not alone in all this. Perinatal mental health issues affect 1 in 5 new and pregnant mothers and 1 in 10 new and expectant fathers. Everything you’re feeling is normal and natural. The only goal you have to focus on is to reduce the negative feelings and help you feel like yourself again.

why Do i feel like this?

There doesn’t have to be a clear trigger. You don’t have to find a reason for why you’re feeling this way. What is important is that you are. What is important is that you have recognised that you are feeling these emotions. That is a huge moment in focussing on your perinatal mental health. From here, it is about how you can take small, manageable steps to feel better.

I want help, where do i start?

As a new parent, you don’t have to neglect your mental health. The following suggestions can help you unwind, reduce stress, and boost your energy levels throughout the day. Most importantly, they’ll motivate you to be a better parent. Combine them to make your own unique self-care strategy. You’ll be pleased you did it for yourself and your baby.

remember to reduce your tasks


You might wish to keep up with all of the household chores you used to do. However, if you’re also caring for a newborn, this takes up a lot of time.

Don’t pressure yourself! Your whole world has experienced an enormous change, and if you try to do everything you did before you became a parent, you may find it hard to keep it up. It’s important not to establish unreasonable goals for yourself or become too disappointed if you don’t achieve them. Forgive yourself if some things remain unfinished, and you need to rest. Your health comes before a pile of unwashed clothes or plates! When you’re ready, they will still be waiting for you.

One very helpful way of managing your time as a new or expectant parent is to follow the 20-minute rule. Taking things 20 minutes at a time might help you feel more in control. It might assist you in taking advantage of getting a small amount of work done whenever you can. But don’t push yourself to get the whole task done in those 20-minute bursts! Simply set aside 20 minutes to do as much of a task as possible. For instance, putting laundry in the washer or sifting through documents.

You’ll soon find that your daily tasks feel much more manageable!

Extra tip: Shopping online for newborn baby clothing and baby supplies is another method to cut down on unnecessary excursions. Get your favourite designs, brands, and sizes of necessities without leaving home, including baby boy pyjamas, baby girl bodysuits, and neutral outfit sets. You may also utilise a digital banking app, subscribe to a meal delivery service, or make use of your grocery store’s home delivery services.  

remember to sleep

Newborns are well-known for disturbing their parents’ sleep. From crying in the middle of the night to crying in the middle of the day, your newborn can make rest feel like a luxury. Sleep may also feel like something unnecessary. Plus, You may even be thinking that you can always catch up with some added rest later on.

But, later on never seems to come! There will always be more tasks and more things to do when you’re awake. You’ll keep pushing sleep away and will soon find yourself accepting that there’s now no time to rest properly.

Sleep deprivation has a massive impact on our well-being. It may exacerbate emotional reactions and unpleasant feelings in ways that are hard to understand. 

It can affect your whole body as well as your mood. You may start to feel a little unwell a lot of the time, with a sore throat, a runny nose, and a constant headache.   

Remember: Make sleep a priority. Try to find a trusted friend, family, or babysitter to watch your child while you sleep. It may sound too good to be true, but getting more sleep will help you feel better and will let you get more done in the same amount of time.

remember to take baby breaks

Spending some time doing things that don’t involve just you and your baby can be very helpful for keeping you feeling happy and healthy. It may not be possible, or it may be too hard to spend time away from your new baby right now. That’s okay! Baby breaks are simply times to spend away from doing typical parenting things.

There are 3 main ways you can take baby breaks:

  1. Spend some time doing things you love doing. You don’t have to give up activities that you enjoyed before becoming a parent. You can do these activities in the comfort of your own home whenever you feel up to it. Reading a book, keeping a diary, or performing a video yoga session in your living room are all good ways to take care of yourself.
  2. Spend some time socialising outside of your home. You may also become a member of a mum’s group. Mum and baby clubs cater to a wide range of interests, including support groups and workout meetups. Consider getting together with a buddy who has a newborn if you need extra socialising.
  3. Spend some time socialising online or access online support. You may chat to other parents in forums on websites like Netmums. There are also several online groups where you may discuss your experiences as a parent dealing with a mental health issue. Side by Side is an online peer support network created by Mind for anybody seeking help with their mental health.

If you are really struggling with your mental health, try to identify someone with whom you can be completely honest and commit to sharing your feelings with that person. It’s vital to have someone to confide in and support your experiences, no matter how upset you are or how ‘silly’ you believe your sentiments are. Keep communicating.

remember to take adult breaks

An adult break doesn’t mean spending some time doing adult things. It means taking some time away from other adults!

As strange as it sounds, other adults can sometimes be more stressful than your newborn baby!  Everyone has an opinion on parenting, but new parents must figure out what works best for them. Finding the right approach may take some practice. Don’t worry about what others say – just do what works for you.

Taking adult breaks also means not spending time on social media. While nursing or putting the baby to sleep, you may find yourself browsing through social media. You may end up seeing other new parents on your news feeds. They may seem happy, productive, and completely on top of things. Usually, this isn’t really the case.

Comparing yourself to other parents might make you feel inadequate and as if you’re doing something wrong. Don’t judge yourself based on what you see on social media. Much of what you see is unrealistic (and it’s frequently only possible with a bit of hidden help).

Do your best and give yourself plenty of time to acclimatise to a new baby (and some significant lifestyle changes). Tell your friends and family that you’re going on an internet detox until the baby is a bit older. If they want to check in on you or see the baby, they can phone or text you.

remember to look after yourself

Spending time taking care of yourself isn’t selfish! 

The better you feel about yourself and your life as a new parent, the more you respond to your fundamental needs, relax, and avoid negative messages. It’s a wheel that keeps on turning. The more you take care of yourself, the better you feel, and you can take even better care of your baby.

Plus, if you’re still not convinced that self-care is important, just think the skills you gain will be essential in setting a positive example for your children.

Begin by doing a few activities that make you feel refreshed while you’re still in the newborn stage. Some parents like taking a nightly bath after their baby has gone to sleep or getting a massage once a week from their partner.

Even while your baby is only napping, try out some new facial masks, relax with a nice cup of tea, manicure your nails, and groom yourself when you get a break.

To achieve greater wellbeing, you don’t need to spend hours at the spa or many days a week at the gym. Spend a few minutes each week doing something that you like. You’ll be able to fit more self-care activities into your calendar as your baby gets older.

remember to ask for help

It might be tough to talk honestly about how you’re feeling after having a baby and dealing with your perinatal mental health. You could have the following thoughts:

  • “There’s so much pressure to be cheerful and joyful all the time”
  • “I can’t keep on top of everything”
  • “If I speak up about my feelings, people will think I’m a bad parent”
  •  “If I open up, my child could be taken away from me”

If you’re experiencing these thoughts, it’s vital to remember that help is out there in many shapes and forms. From online forums to dedicated helplines, don’t hesitate to ask for it if you require assistance or support!

Take a look at our feature on postnatal depression

resources

NHS: Depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz

NSPCC: Coronavirus advice and support for families

National Elf Service: Perinatal mental health problems in fathers are common and legitimate

references

Healthdirect: Signs of mental health issues

NSPCC: 1 in 5 UK mums experience perinatal mental health problems

Sleepstation: sleep and insomnia

Mind: Sleep and mental health

NCT: Parent socials

Netmums

Mind: side by side community

Priory group: is social media fuelling anxiety and depression among parents?