6 Ways to Combat Postnatal Mom Brain
Mom brain is a real thing, people! It was something that I had heard of in passing as a sort of postnatal brain fog that prevents you from being as sharp as you can be. Since your hormones are totally out of whack during this time, and your focus is almost entirely on your new baby, you do things that might be a little abnormal for you.
I’d never really given mom brain much thought until I experienced it for myself. In the months after my baby was born, I began to do all kinds of things that definitely were not like me; I lost my wallet at Target (someone turned it in a week later! Thank goodness!), I forgot my wallet once entirely on a trip to the grocery store, I was late doing paperwork, misplaced my keys on several occasions, I broke down crying in front of my boss, and once I even completely flaked on one of my friends because I totally spaced on the fact that we had plans! All of these things were super distressing for me as I’m usually very organized and on top of things, and I am not someone who cries in front of anyone, let alone my boss(!!!), so that was especially hard on me. My husband definitely did not help the situation either as he frequently made commentary about me not being myself, and I became very stressed out and sensitive whenever he mentioned it. But, eventually I realized I had to do something to get back to my old self again. Here are the things that I did that helped me to combat postnatal mom brain:
1. Getting into a routine!
I’ll admit, this first step is probably the hardest for a lot of us to do. Babies come out of the womb not knowing day from night, and their little mixed up schedules tend to send ours into a tizzy! But establishing a good routine is paramount for your sanity, and for optimizing your baby’s overall health and sense of well being as well.
For me, I started keeping better track of feedings so I was spacing them out about 3 hours apart, and I would feed the baby, then change her and while she was happy for a bit I would start tending to the needs of my household and myself. I also established a set bedtime at around 4 months, and I would change her into her jammies, and then rock her and sing to her so she knew it was time to wind down. Now that my daughter is a toddler, I still sing her to sleep every night (along with the rest of her established routine), and we have had much success with her going to sleep easily because of it. Which leads me to my next step…
2. Get enough sleep!
When my baby was first born, I suffered from extreme PPA (postpartum anxiety) and I would wake up in a dead panic if I could not hear her breathing at all times. Because of this, I didn’t get much sleep at all because I was constantly waking up to check on her and make sure her face wasn’t covered, or that she hadn’t rolled over, etc. Needless to say, I was a bit of a mess for those first months until I learned to let go just a little bit. I bought this baby monitor and started sleep training my daughter at 6 months and moved her into her own room which helped me get some deeper sleep! (The baby monitor was a great purchase for me because you can turn the video off at night and the sound comes on only when the baby is moving or making noise.) And because of our established sleep routine (see above), my baby only took 2 days to sleep train before she continually went to sleep easily and started sleeping through the night, only waking for feedings.
3. Make sure you’re eating right
Eating healthy, nutritional food is key to getting your mind and body back on track, and this includes drinking enough water to make sure all systems are go! If you’re breastfeeding, this shouldn’t be a problem as I was thirsty all the time when breastfeeding!
I found eating right to be much easier at around 4-6 months when we started introducing solid foods into my baby’s diet and I was breastfeeding a little less. I was obsessed about making sure she was eating a well balanced diet without a lot of sugars and preservatives, so I started making a lot of food from scratch and incorporated a lot of sweet potatoes, quinoa, berries, lean meats, and other fruits and veggies into our diet as she was able to eat them.
4. Get some exercise!
Believe it or not, this part came naturally for me, and may for you as well. I was so sick of being cooped up in the house all the time that starting around 2 months when the doctor gave the OK, I would pack up my baby in the stroller and take her on long walks through parks, around the neighborhood and to the grocery store, etc., just to get out of the house and get some fresh air. The fall and winter months can throw a wrench into that plan, however, especially in the PNW where we live, so I’ve also started doing yoga and workout videos during nap time. 🙂
5. Meet up with other adults
This one is absolutely vital for your mental health and happiness, and is probably the number one complaint that I’ve heard from my readers and women in my mommy groups that they don’t get enough of. I started making regular play dates with friends of mine who had kids around the same age, and joined mommy groups and visited relatives, etc. to make sure I was getting in some adult conversation and time away from the house. This also helped keep me on a schedule because I had actual places to go and people to see at a given time, so I started getting back to keeping my calendar and being organized again. It also helped to have someone I could talk to about what I was going through, and I’m so thankful to those women who helped me through the anxiety of being a new mom.
6. Find some time for yourself
This is something I definitely still struggle with. I am now a “work at home mommy”, so nap times are usually filled up with getting my work done for the day, and after I’ve spent time playing with my kiddo, feeding her, running errands, going on play dates, getting dinner on the table for our family, my husband comes home to eat and relax, but I’ve still got all the cleanup and chores to do! Sometimes I’m even up extra late working, so I really don’t have a lot of time to myself. The struggle is real! But I’ve made it a point to ask my husband for a couple of hours to myself on a weekend every now and then, so I can go get my hair cut or take a nap, or at least do something where I’m not responsible for anyone or anything else but myself.
What are the things you do to keep your self sane and on track for everyday life? Do you have any stories of how mom brain affected you? Share them in the comments below!