give & get a massage
Why not treat both yourself and the baby to a little massage? You’ve both been through a lot in the past week.
Book yourself a postnatal massage at a local spa, choosing one with a staff that has experience working with postpartum women. Ask them to avoid using heavily scented oils or creams, as they may irritate your baby, particularly if you’re nursing.
For the baby’s massage, you don’t need a professional — you’re the masseuse of choice, with your familiar scent, voice, face and touch. Plan the massage when he is awake and happy (and at least a half-hour after the last feeding so he won’t spit up). The room should be warm. Rub unscented baby oil between your hands, then work your way softly over your baby’s body in firm but gentle circular motions and strokes.
Research shows that massage may help babies sleep better; at the very least, your soothing touch can calm your baby.
enjoy private time
You can calm jagged nerves and regain a sense of self by setting aside bits of time daily for your own mental health. Some simple ideas: reading a good book while enjoying a cup of tea, soaking in a bath with a scented candle burning or responding to e-mail from friends.
Negotiate with your husband a regular time when he will be responsible for the baby. “Dads need to bond and to spend one-on-one time with the baby,” says Dena Jarog, a pediatric clinical nurse specialist and mother of two (soon to be three) in Spencer, Wis. “I learned that it built confidence in my husband when I went into another room while he played with our son every night. And besides, no matter how often he told me I was beautiful, I couldn’t feel it until I had some time away from being the walking cafeteria.”
“Stay in your pajamas for the whole week!” advises Coral Lee Humphrey of Canoga Park, Calif., who is expecting her third child. Let the answering machine screen calls, let dust bunnies collect in the corners, and let your buddies prepare a week’s worth of meals so you won’t have to do a thing but turn on the oven. Involve your husband in the process of organizing where the baby’s things are kept so he can pitch in with carting and cleaning up.
Instead of just keeping you company, put friends to work running errands, doing laundry, cooking dinners and cleaning.