Bringing home a new baby in the winter can pose a special set of challenges for mom. As we recover from birth and adjust to our new roles as parents it’s likely that there will be feelings of isolation and loneliness. The winter months can make these feelings more intense as we tend to “hibernate” a bit. Feelings of isolation can wreak havoc on a new mom’s mental health. Whether or not she has a history of mood disorders, having a baby can cause a mom to feel overwhelmed. So, what is a new mom to do when the days are short, the air is brisk, and the roads are snow covered?
Increasing your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids is a really good idea if you’ve recently had a baby or are breastfeeding. Omega 3s are a great supporter during the cold winter months as well. Fatty fish like wild caught salmon, and plant based sources like walnuts, flax seed, and chia seeds are the best options. Other foods high in tryptophan, like turkey, eggs, and cheese (omelet anyone?) help increase your serotonin levels, often low in the winter. Complex carbs like whole grain brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes regulate blood sugar levels and assist the tryptophan containing foods in increasing that much needed serotonin.
Easy, mom friendly snacks to have on hand are:
- Turkey meat, preferably nitrate free
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cheese sticks
- Whole wheat pita bread or brown rice cakes with nut butter
- Oatmeal cookies (yay! Cookies) raisins add fiber which is also helpful for a postpartum mom
Staying hydrated and limiting caffeine is a great idea for a new mom. Warm herbal tea can make mom feel better in general.
Let the light in
The winter days are shorter. Sunlight makes us happy. If you can, go outside during the day. Recovering from birth can make a daily walk challenging, and sometimes, it’s just too cold. What other options do you have?
- Open your blinds and curtains. Letting in as much natural light as possible during the day is important.
- Sit next to a window when feeding the baby.
- Use lots of lamps inside the house.
- If you’re prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, talk to your doctor about the possibility of a therapeutic lamp
If you’re comfortable doing so, bundle the baby up and go for a walk outside. Or, let your partner bond with the baby for a few minutes and go outside alone. Enjoy the fresh air and the sunlight on your gorgeous face. Even going outside for a 20 minute walk will make a huge difference in your overall mood.
Once you’re cleared for exercise, there are some local exercise classes especially for moms and babies.
- Mommy-Baby Yoga meets on Mondays from 12-1pm and is open to babies 6 wks and older at Evergreen Yoga
- Fit Mom and Me meets three times a week at the Kroc
- Stroller Strides- Fit 4 Mom Memphis moves indoors to the Oak Court Mall for the winter months
Joining other moms for exercise provides you not only with the well-being increasing endorphin rush, but also a community of other moms. Limit the feelings of isolation AND feel better? I like it.
Get by with a little help from your friends
When we feel lonely, we feel terrible. New babies can make new moms feel terribly lonely. Eventually, your child will start talking to you, but for the time being, that cute little sack of love is not a great communicator and leaves us craving adult conversation. My best tip? Have some adult conversation!
Invite a friend over for tea. Invite a couple of friends over for tea. Go have a cup of tea with one of the moms you meet at that new mommy and me exercise class you’re taking. Call your mom several states or cities away, sit in a comfortable chair near a window, and have a cup of tea. Ask your postpartum doula to make you a cup of tea and talk to her, while sitting in a comfortable chair near a window.
My guess is though, that your postpartum doula will have already made you a cup of tea before you get a chance to ask, and is likely keeping some cheesy eggs warm for you while you take your shower.