So, here’s the deal. You just had a baby! After nine long months of preparing for this very moment, you find yourself swept into a whirlwind of excitement, fear, exhaustion, and joy. No matter how many parenting books you read or hours you spent typing questions into the Google search bar, you may still feel an overwhelming sense of, “What do I do now?”

The postpartum stage of pregnancy is often neglected in the intense journey towards your due date, but it is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging periods for a new parent. Much of your focus will be dedicated to your brand new baby as you become acquainted and try to decipher every cry. It’s easy to forget that you just completed a nine-month marathon where your body, mind, and soul were stretched to their absolute limits. Take a moment, breathe, and congratulate yourself! In order to be the best parent you can be, you must first take care of yourself.

Here are 7 essential tips to help new parents power through the postpartum period:

  1. Get more sleep. Many new parents struggle to get any semblance of rest as they shoulder new responsibilities and cope with their baby’s erratic sleep schedule. It’s best to sleep when your baby sleeps, but getting your baby acquainted with day and night needs to be a priority. Small things like leaving the curtains open during daytime naps and keeping the nursery dark and quiet during nighttime dozes can encourage a regular circadian rhythm. And a rested baby is a rested mother.
  2. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Although it might seem logical to stop taking prenatal vitamins when you are no longer pregnant, these crucial doses of nutrition may be important for both breastfeeding and your body’s recovery. Make sure you are eating regularly, and talk to your OB/GYN about continuing your supplement regime.
  3. Be patient with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a completely new experience for both you and your baby, so try not to panic if you encounter a few obstacles. In general, make sure you are staying hydrated, keeping calm, and caring for your breasts.  If you are having difficulty or need answers to your questions, ask for help – there are lactation consultants for a reason!
  4. Make a funny file. How long has it been since you laughed out loud? With all of the emotions and exhaustion weighing you down, you truly need a dose of laughter to keep yourself afloat. Start making a folder of silly memes, YouTube videos of animals making weird sounds, or clips from your favorite stand-up comedian. We promise that these will come in handy later!
  5. Join a group. If you are struggling to get out of the house in the weeks or months following delivery, you may begin to feel alone. The stress of parenthood can be isolating in itself, as you may find it difficult to keep up with your old social circle. Find other parnets in your area through MeetUp, Mothers Offering Mothers Support (MOMS), or Mocha Moms. Connecting with others who are experiencing the same crazy life changes as you may help you make the journey a little less scary.
  6. Treat yourself. Find 20 minutes each day to dedicate totally to yourself. Make a cup of green tea and read a book. Light some scented candles and take a bubble bath. Pop on a pair of headphones and listen to your favorite podcast. A little bit of self-care will go a long way!
  7. Ask for help. Throughout all the craziness, it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with watching your new baby, cleaning around the house, buying groceries, or folding the laundry. Every Superparent needs a couple sidekicks to get through the day.