Parenting magazines tend to focus on the health of the newborn and the young toddler and less on the health of the parents. For example, articles abound on what parents can and should do to ensure their child’s wellbeing. But there are health pitfalls that are particular to parents, which they should be aware of so that they can take preventative measures.
Back sprains from lifting incorrectly
Time in the nursery, where a parent gets to bond with their young child, is important. However, all that carrying and rocking and lifting that new parents are unused to can lead to a sore back, strained neck muscles, and tight shoulders. The surprising news is that at least half of the discomfort and stress and strain on one’s back can be avoided.
Some tips from the experts include bringing your body/torso as close to the baby as possible before lifting him or her from the bed or crib. They also caution against carrying your baby or young child on your hip, as this places a strain on one half of your body. If you must carry your child for long periods, do so using the right kind of baby carrying device or a stroller. For parents of twins, or young children close in age, parents can alleviate much strain through using a double stroller.
Exhaustion from late nights awake with the newborn
New moms and dads often find it difficult to adjust to a hungry person in their bedroom who demands to be fed every couple of hours. What was once 8 hours of sleep nightly is often cut in half. What sleep can be found is done in snatches. And likely not the deep sleep that provides a restorative and healing function.
Being sleep deprived is a serious health concern. Allowing insomnia and poor sleep patterns to develop can create an additional challenge to parents. So what can parents do to cope?
The experts at BabyCenter.com suggest creating an alternating schedule with one’s spouse. The mother pumps enough breastmilk for two feeding sessions. And then one parent takes the first feeding duty, and the other parent the next. Other experienced parents suggest alternating nights so that each parent gets one solid night of sleep every other night. When in a pinch, A quick nap during the day can improve your mood, your work performance, and your level of alertness. All things that might be in short supply if you haven’t been getting full nights of rest.
Neglect of personal fitness
Being tired all the time does not mean that you clocked in the recommended amount of physical exercise for adults. And not getting exercise can have a cascading negative effect in other areas of your life. For parents, it can be the start of a bad pattern of neglecting one’s own physical fitness due to pressing parenting demands.
Taking a walk does wonders for mood improvement, energy levels, and one’s emotional state. Not to mention all the heart benefits that being active brings. Exercise with your spouse so that you can use the time to not only connect with your partner, but also to do something for your personal health. Make it a date. And take your child with you. Establishing exercise habits when your child is young plays a role in how active they will be later in life.
Mood swings, depression, and emotional stability
Parents are faced with a continual demand on their time and resources. And depending on how one adapts to this new lifestyle, this can determine the quality of their emotional life and their mental health. Some parents benefit from going to therapy to talk out their issues with a counselor. Others benefit from support groups that can provide insights and tips on how to cope with various demands. Close parent friends are also able to fill this role well. But, keep in mind that friendships should not only be used for venting your troubles. Those who do not wish to strain certain relationships might be better served by choosing to work with a counselor or a support group.
Children are one of life’s greatest joys. But, as with any other career that takes up time in one’s day, there are health pitfalls to being a parent of young children. A parent’s emotional health contributes toward helping their child feel safe and secure. Thus, parents should take the time to tend to their own emotional and mental health.