Feeding, burping, diaper changes, odd hourly night cries, spit-ups, followed by clean-ups, pumping sessions, bottle washing-the list of chores is endless with a baby, but the hours in a day and helping hand are always limited.
Every new mother goes through phases where she's awake in the middle of the night, fatigued beyond her own understanding with a baby that refuses to sleep beyond 45 minutes or without being strapped to her chest. She silently cries to herself with an aching body, an uneasy mind, and feelings of overwhelm as physical exhaustion refuses to leave her while emotional overburden seems to have no outlet.
This, in a true sense, is mommy burnout. Mommy burnout does not happen overnight. It's gradual, spread across several days and nights. In the most invisible way, it takes over the new mother, leaving her praying for a way out for some self-comfort.
While symptoms of mommy burnout could be endless, some common ones are:
*Loss or increase in appetite
*A feeling of helplessness and loneliness
*Excessive anger or short temper
*Constant screaming or crying
*Unexplained irritability or anxiety, trouble controlling thoughts that seem to be racing
*Exhaustion, low energy, and lack of interest in the surroundings
*Inability to sleep
*Feeling resentful towards life (including baby)
Steps to tackle Mommy burnout:
Setting boundaries is key to reversing mommy burnout. It is also essential to take help from those around you and understand that 'doing it all' does not make you a better mother.
*Take help with feeding the baby. Use the bottle if you must to allow the mother some rest on days where cluster feeding is a pattern.
*Dedicate chores of the house to other family members in the house. Hire help if it is feasible.
*Selfcare is a method to tank you up from depleted energy levels. Take that walk, go for that manicure, meet that friend for coffee, make that phone call.
*Set realistic parenting and self-expectations. Do what works for you and your baby. Not what your parent or sister or neighbour did with their baby.
*Limit guests and visitors in the house. Have clear demarcation on days when people visit to see the baby & limit setting up the house or organising snacks for them to a bare minimum.
*Allow the house to be messy, the older child that screen time, your meals to be simpler, your clothes to be simple, and expectations of those around you to be shattered if they must be since you do not owe an explanation to anyone in this phase with a baby.