August 26, 2019
Yes, you read that correctly.
Throughout pregnancy, we dedicate a huge amount of time preparing for the arrival of baby, getting the necessary gear and obsessing over strategies for feeding and sleeping.
All of this is important. But it leaves out one very important factor: the mom. What about your life and your needs post-delivery?
As nurses who work with pregnant and new moms on a daily basis – and as moms ourselves – we are firm believers that in order to take the best care of your baby, you must first take care of yourself.
Self care for new moms: Using the NAPS System
In an effort to demystify the notion that moms have to put ourselves second, third or even further down the line of needs, we have created tips for taking care of yourself FIRST. That way, you can be your best self for your baby, your partner, and most importantly, for you.
This list is as easy to remember as our name, Boston NAPS. Our four self-care strategies are inspired by the acronym NAPS:
N is for NUTRITION
Plan ahead for maintaining good nutrition for yourself once your baby is here. In this postpartum period, it’s easy to eat three square meals a day – especially if someone drops off a meal or frozen dinner – but the big enemy is snacking.
We tend to go hours without eating, and then reach for the easiest snack option, which tends to be something high in carbs and sugar and low in other essential nutrients like protein and healthy fats. These types of snacks can cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a drop, which in turn can lead to mood swings (and really, who needs to deal with mood swings in your already fragile hormonal state?)
If you’re breastfeeding, you need good nutrition for your milk. And since milk production increases your metabolism, you are likely to feel hungry often. Plan ahead for healthy grab-and-go snacks in between meals, such as:
You may also consider outsourcing food prep or delivery to a family member, friend or company that will do the grocery shopping for you and deliver it your home.
A is for ALONE TIME
Yes, you need to start planning now for ways to give yourself some alone time once your baby is here. Alone time does need mean taking time for basic human needs, like eating, showering, sleeping, changing your clothes or going to the bathroom.
Alone time means doing something for yourself that makes you feel like you again, the you before you had a baby. A nice mental checkout can be very impactful for your mental and physical health, improve your patience with your baby and benefit your relationship with your partner.
This time alone does not have to be profound. Suggestions include:
Whether you take 20 minutes once a day or an hour, you MUST make this alone time a priority from Day 1.
P is for PEOPLE
It's time to figure out who your ‘people’ are. What do we mean by that? If you’re pregnant, we’re sure you’ve received a lot of advice from relatives, friends, healthcare professionals or even strangers, often unsolicited.
Rather than feel overwhelmed by all of this often-conflicting advice, determine now who your go-to people will be. Your ‘people’ should be individuals who:
We recommend you sit with your partner and make a list of these people. For example, our list includes each other (Emily and Jamie), our pediatrician, a sister (not a mom), and a friend with a baby whose parenting style we like.
Once you make your list, you can consciously decide to ignore advice from anyone not on it.
S is for SLEEP
Make a plan for sleep now. This means talking with your partner about how to tag team your nights, so you each get some rest. It may also involve asking for help from a family member or professional service.
Some strategies for surviving nighttime feedings may include:
If you decide to create shifts, your specific routine may vary for a breastfeeding or a bottle-feeding scenario.
Put yourself first and be a better mom
We can't stress enough how important it is for you, as a new or experienced mom, to meet your needs first before meeting the needs of everyone around you. There is some serious truth to the saying, "Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others." If you are not taking care of yourself, you will be mentally and physically unable to take care of your baby, let alone make time for you and your partner, older children or other important people in your life.
Remember: This approach is not selfish! Making time for yourself should be something that fills you with pride and makes you feel empowered. You've got this, mama!
Jamie O’Day, BSN, RN, IBCLC, and Emily Silver, MS, NP-C, IBCLC, are the cofounders of Boston NAPS, which provides classes, overnight care and in-home consultations for breastfee
January 31, 2023
January 24, 2023
The team at NAPS helps you tackle the issue of early wakeups. *BONUS* NAPS is hosting a webinar on February 24th. Register here and use the extra-special code MAGICMERLIN and you can join the webinar FREE of charge!
The sound of cheery calls of “MAAAAMAAAAA” from the next room may be lovely at 7am. At 4am, or 5 am, not so much. Your baby may be up and ready to start the day, but you probably aren’t.
Answering the questions below may help you get there.
This might seem like an obvious question, but your baby’s sleep needs will change fast in the first few years of their lives. A quick look at the average nap number and duration might give you an idea:
Part of the reason you might be seeing earlier wakeups is that your baby has graduated from one nap cycle to the next.
We call this an “awake window,” and it can make a big difference. It might seem strange that your baby went to bed fine the night before, and you’re seeing a response to nap scheduling in the pre-dawn hours, but if your kiddo’s sleep is disrupted at night, it will impact the morning.
Black 0ut curtains can make a big difference here. Remember that our brains signal wakeup when the light changes. So if dawn is at 430am, and even a little bit of light comes into your baby’s room, their little brains will PING with wake up juice.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but a late bedtime can actually backfire on you. Overtired kids don’t sleep as well. If you made their bedtime later and it didn’t fix the problem, try an earlier bedtime and see if that helps. You might be surprised.
Try to make one change at a time; just one. Stick with that change for 3-5 days to see if it impacts things. (One night is usually not enough to see substantial change.) Be as consistent as you can with the change you made. For instance, if you decide to increase the space between bedtime and final nap wakeup, make sure to stick to the wakeup time you planned.
If your baby is waking up and chirping happily to themselves, feel free to leave them there for a little while. Let them get used to being alone in the crib. If you can, try to delay the start of the day by 5-10 minutes each day. This can make a big impact.
Everything else aside, remember that this is a short time in your kid’s life; as they get older, their sleep will become more regular, and so will yours. Don’t let yourself get too discouraged. Things are hard now, and you’re doing a great job.
January 10, 2023
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more…