Mazal tov! You're a new mom! You are busy taking care of the baby and regulating your emotions — this requires a lot of strength. You’re excited, yet confused as you and baby adapt to your new life together. Here are some tools.
Hagar Danon Zahavi, a veteran pilates instructor and a host of postpartum women's groups explains that there are some things that are important to pay attention to right now, in-between changing diapers and doing laundry, all while trying to stay awake.
Make sure you get your maternity leave
Maternity leave in Israel is 15 weeks and you must rest. This does sound absurd since caring for a baby is so demanding, but you owe it to yourself.
Recruit those around you to help with the chore list, like laundry, cooking and cleaning; take unnecessary tasks off of yourself. Do this even if you feel you can handle things. Your body will thank you later.
You are on a journey with your partner - that relationship needs tending as well
It may sound strange, and who has the strength to maintain another relationship when the baby is draining all the energy, but it’s important. The relationship between you and your partner is undergoing a fundamental change.
Look for the good and encourage positivity when they help out. It sounds like a little, but it’s a lot. Tell them that you appreciate them and thank them. When you show appreciation, love and gratitude, you’ll also receive these from a genuine place and not "because you need to," and these days you really need it.
Tell family and others what you want and don’t want
Give only what you can to convey to extended family and friends the message that they’re involved and loved. If it's difficult for you to host and receive home visits, don’t. If you don't feel comfortable with others holding the baby, don’t allow it. Shabbat dinners? Postpone until you feel comfortable.
What shouldn’t you give up? For the sake of truth and transparency. Be honest about your needs and feelings, but try to understand that those around you want to help. Look for ways to express that they’re part of your new family.
For example, instead of visits or phone calls, keep up-to-date with messages about your and your baby's condition, or make a date for a convenient reason for the family to be together. Good communication is based on honesty, so tell people that you need time before getting together.
Find ways to anchor the day
The routine changes every moment with an infant so find anchors during the day to feel that you have some control over the situation. Set aside 15 minutes or so in the morning just for you, go for a walk during the day with the stroller when it's nice outside, sit down for a well-planned lunch and don't eat standing up, get ready to care for the baby before bedtime.
Everyone has different anchors, so only do what’s good for you and your baby.
Meet only those who are good for you
Get out of the house and meet people who know how to accommodate you and do you good. It could be someone you just met who’s also a new mother.
Go out with a friend for dinner or an activity. The main thing is that you choose people you’re comfortable around in this sensitive period.
Even if you take the baby for a vaccination or a routine check-up at the well-baby clinic and you don't feel like being alone, ask a friend to come help you.
This article was written in partnership with the JAMA parenting app.