Having a baby is a major life change.
You are busy–and tired. While your body adjusts naturally, your BRAIN may be calling for help. What does the brain of a new mom say? Probably something that I’ve heard many times before in the hospital and that is…“NURSE!!!”
If you ignore the needs of your brain, all aspects of life—emotional, physical, and spiritual—will suffer from a loss of balance. Neurobiology plus the stresses of the postpartum period mean that paying attention to your brain is key for new moms to survive and thrive. That’s where the plan comes in.
How do you pay attention to your postpartum brain?
The answer actually isn’t A nurse, it’s simply “NURSE”.
Developed by research scientists with a specialty in women’s moods and the postpartum, NURSE is simple and, more importantly, NURSE is effective!
Post these principles on your refrigerator or anywhere else that you might have a moment to remind yourself that you deserve to take good care of you!
Nourishment: Of Mind, Body, and Soul
Food is the most obvious source of our energy. A healthy diet promotes balance. Additionally, it is important to keep the brain critically and creatively active to promote optimal functioning. Consider very simple activities that you enjoy and can engage in even if you are exhausted. Examples include: looking at a book with beautiful drawings, mindfully eating a piece of dark chocolate, stretching, feeling the sun on your face, smelling essential oils, snuggling in a fuzzy blanket, taking a warm bath, using a hot pad or hot water bottle.
Understanding: Understanding and appreciating how reproductive events can contribute to mood and anxiety disorders. (Read Women’s Moods by Jeanne Driscoll-the book that explains NURSE in detail).
Rest and Relaxation: The brain needs sleep to rebalance and replenish. Sometimes new parents forget, however, that periods of relaxation are equally important, and learning to relax is a form of treatment and aids in recovery for women who are experiencing mood swings, anxieties, and pain. (Relaxation is something you will learn and practice if you take a childbirth education class.) Regular brief periods of mindful relaxation also contribute to the prevention of these issues.
Spirituality: NURSE defines spirituality as a sense of self, balance, and connection with a higher power or being. Personal spirituality can be any experience that helps you to feel uplifted and joyful. Relationship, solitude, appreciation of nature, music, journaling, or other mindful practices nourish the soul.
Exercise: It’s a daunting word for a new mom. The key questions being, “When?” and “How?” Plan a short walk as part of your day. It’s essential. Baby will be happy in a sling or Ergo or stroller-or with your partner, doula, or friend.
For more information on the NURSE program and brain health, please read Women’s Moods by Jeanne Watson Driscoll.