When we as women find out that we’re pregnant, we instinctively know that taking care of ourselves is vital to the health and well-being of our babies. Once our babies arrive, we become so busy caring for the needs of our little ones, and with all the demands of new motherhood, that caring for ourselves falls further and further from the top of the priority list.
We all know, however, that taking care of ourselves is so important if we’re going to be able to properly care for our families.
When a new baby or new babies arrive, we immediately realize that getting enough sleep is a HUGE CHALLENGE! Without enough sleep, we simply cannot function. Without enough sleep, our bodies ability recover from or to prevent illness is highly compromised.
Sleep challenges don’t end when our children outgrow the newborn stage. Those of us with older children experience many sleepless nights when our kids are sick, are off their sleep schedules because of travel and vacations, for example, or when the stress and demands of school or bad dreams keep our children from sleeping well.
Sometimes, too, the stress of our days keep us from sleeping well even when the rest of the family is sound asleep!
TIPS FOR GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
With newborns, take “sleep turns” with your spouse or other caregiver(s). Find a room at the opposite end of your house from the baby(ies) room where you can sleep quietly for a least 3 hours uninterrupted hours at a time. Doing this a twice per day can satisfy your sleep needs until your babies become old enough to sleep through the night.
If you’re breast feeding on demand, this arrangement may not be possible. If you choose to sleep with your babies so you can nurse them as needed, it’s possible to get the rest you need, as long as the babies sleep soundly as well for a few hours at a time.
If everyday stress and life demands are keeping you up at night, there are some natural sleep remedies that I’ve found very helpful.
1) Daily exercise. If you spend your day rushing around trying to be everything to everyone, stress builds up and can manifest itself as the inability to get a good night’s sleep. Taking a brisk 20-30 minute walk, for example, once per day releases pent-up stress. The pituitary gland releases endorphins and your body produces dopamine and serotonin known as pleasure and happiness chemicals, all of which provide your body with the ability to de-stress, relax and experience deep, recuperative sleep.
2) Natural therapies. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland and whose function is to control sleep. Melatonin can be taken in capsule form to increase your body’s natural supply. Valerian (a natural herb) is another commonly prescribed sleep aid. Both melatonin and valerian are well-known for their ability to shorten the time to fall asleep and for their ability to provide longer, deeper sleep.
3) Vitamin increase. Calcium and magnesium taken together are known as sleep boosters … and they’re vital for your bone health!
4) Yoga or meditation. Bring yourself down from the day’s noise and chaos. Sit quietly, clear your mind, pray and count your blessings. When we take our focus off our problems and focus on all that is good in our lives, we can feel more at peace. Practicing yoga postures, like other exercise, releases all the pleasure hormones, and also reduces pain.
5) Aromatherapy. You’ve probably heard that lavender is very effective in causing relaxation. Lighting a lavender-scented candle, rubbing lavender-scented lotion into your skin, or spritzing your pillow with a lavender-scented spray may encourage pleasurable relaxation.
As children, we grew up learning the importance of eating right. Although the occasional splurge of sweets and salty snacks can’t damage our bodies, it’s imperative that we as moms place our health and nutrition on the top of our self-care lists! But with today’s constant demands, many of us are living our lives basically malnourished. The proof of this fact is the high-rate of illness and disease today, including physical, mental and emotional.
We need to find simple and complete ways to nourish ourselves and our families if we’re going to live long, healthy productive lives. As new moms, especially breastfeeding multiples moms, optimal nutrition for our own and for our babies’ health is extremely important!
TIPS FOR OPTIMAL NUTRITION
1) DIET. A diet rich in healthy proteins such as lean meets, eggs and fish; calcium such as cheese, yogurt and dark, leafy greens; fiber such as fresh vegetables, whole grains/nuts and fresh fruits provide our bodies with needed nutrients each day. Drinking a LOT of water each day (at least 8-10 full 8-oz glasses) is important for healthy metabolism and digestion.
2) SUPPLEMENTS. Do we always eat right? Not many of us can say YES to that question each day. How many of us take the recommended daily doses of the vitamins and minerals we need each day. If we were to try, we may end up taking a handful of pills, capsules or gummies!
3) ALTERNATIVE SUPPLEMENTS. The trend today is to find a way to supplement our dietary intake, as all doctors and scientists believe we need, with methods that provide nutrition at the cellular level (and I’m not referring to our mobile phones.)
Many health food and natural food stores carry shakes and powder mixes that can be taken daily to supplement and complete our daily nutritional needs. This added nutrition is vital in providing our bodies with the ability to maintain our health, give us much-needed ENERGY, and prevent illness.