Self-care is essential for brand spanking new dad and mom – Go Well being Professional


Fiona Carungay describes herself as a “recovering type A person.”

“I used to thrive off taking care of myself and excelling in my career and having everything in its place,” she said.

All of that changed after her son was born.

“Things were very chaotic,” said the Kaiser Permanente member and employee. “I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I couldn’t keep our place clean. I couldn’t take care of myself, and I didn’t know how to cope.”

Adjusting to a new normal

Many new parents experience worries, tearfulness, and exhaustion after a baby is born. These feelings typically last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

“The period after your baby is born is a period of a lot of adjustment,” said Emma Reyes-Ramirez, a licensed clinical social worker at Kaiser Permanente who counsels new parents. “You’re healing physically from having had the baby. You’re dealing with a lot of hormonal changes. And now you have this baby that you need to take care of. It can be really overwhelming.”

Reyes-Ramirez stresses the importance of self-care at this time of transition. She urges her patients to take time for themselves and “honor their process” as they adjust to being new parents.

3 self-care tips for new parents

  • Ask for help. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help when you need it. And if someone offers to cook you a meal, do the laundry, or take the baby on a walk while you rest, take them up on it.
  • Set boundaries. Not feeling up for visitors? Don’t feel like posing for a picture? Just say no. It’s OK to let friends and family know how you’re feeling.
  • Make time for you. Take time to do things you enjoy. Have a cup of tea, catch up with a friend, watch a show, or read a book.

Fiona Carungay and her son, Mason.

When to seek help

If feelings of sadness and worry last for more than a couple of weeks, reach out to your doctor. You might be experiencing postpartum depression.

“With postpartum depression, symptoms are intense, long-lasting, and they can affect your ability to function,” said Michelle Gebhardt, MD, an ob-gyn with Kaiser Permanente.

The good news is postpartum depression is very treatable. Kaiser Permanente offers a range of care options. Treatment might include one-on-one therapy, group therapy, or safe, effective medication.

“Things may feel difficult right now, but they won’t be like this forever,” said Reyes-Ramirez. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Learn more about mental health during and after pregnancy.


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