New Year’s Resolution for Reflux Moms
Now that you have survived the holidays, it is time to look ahead to the New Year. If you are like me, you are too exhausted to stay up late and watch the ball drop in Times Square! There is something about taking care of a little one with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) that takes my last bit of energy.
When my daughter was in the midst of the reflux years, it was difficult for me to plan my morning much less my year. All of the little caretaking duties combined into one hugely busy schedule. A holiday or wedding was an overwhelming logistical hurdle to resolve, not a celebration to look forward too. If you are still in the middle of the intense caretaking needed for a baby with reflux, you might think it is crazy to set goals and priorities for the year. Maybe in the pre-dawn darkness, when your baby wakes up or you are holding her so she can digest, you will have a moment to look ahead and make plans for the New Year. I encourage you to start slowly and see how it goes.
Here are my top picks for New Years Resolutions when you are a Reflux Mom:
1. Routine Health Maintenance: It is vitally important for caretakers to go to the doctor and dentist routinely. Caring for a sick family member can drain your immune system and cause new health concerns. Make sure you set up these appointments well in advance so you don't forget.
2. Stay Hydrated: Most people do not drink enough water and become dehydrated. Drinking water will improve your alertness, lower your blood pressure and help your body work better. Now wasn't that easy?! Many moms find that it is easier to remember to drink if there is a pitcher of filtered water in the refrigerator or a favorite water bottle they keep with them whether at home or on an outing to the pediatrician's office.
3. Step Out: Exercise can make a huge difference mentally and physically. It might not be reasonable to join a club or class. I know moms who take their babies on a walk each day, whether they are asleep or screaming. Think of it this way, would you rather hold your baby as she screams in your house or outside while walking when the air is clear and the sun is shining?
4. Watch Your Back: Make sure you support your back while holding your baby, nursing and using carriers. Your baby probably needs more holding and burping than the average baby so be careful. I talk to one or more Reflux moms a week who tell me they sleep with the baby on their shoulder in a recliner or propped up in bed. This can be exhausting and a big strain on your back. Maybe you could schedule a massage once in a while if finances allow.
5. Take a Nap: This is my favorite. I think caretakers should take a nap every day, especially Reflux moms who find themselves pulling the night shift after a long day of caretaking. A nap always lifted my spirits and gave me a burst of energy. If a daily nap seems too unrealistic, aim for a weekend nap when dad can take a turn managing the household.
6. Healthy Eating: Healthy eating and taking vitamins helps you to have a positive attitude and boost your immune system. Resolve to try a new seasonal vegetable or fruit, take a cruise down the organic food aisle and try a new food. Maybe you need a snack bar or dried fruit mix for one-handed eating and grazing. If you are too busy to cook, many food stores and specialty stores have heat-and-eat entrees with healthy ingredients too.
7. Screen for Depression: Caretakers are at increased risk for depression. The constant pressure of taking care of someone else combined with the physical exhaustion can cause feeling of hopelessness, anxiety and loneliness. Go to this Depression Assessment and talk to your doctor. Doctors have been trained to screen for depression by asking you a few simple questions. Screening for depression is important to you, your baby and your relationships.
8. Reach Out: Now is the time to resolve to reach out to another Reflux Mom or friend who really understand you and can offer ongoing support all year long. If your best friend looks confused or glazes over when you talk to your baby, it might be time to seek out a Reflux Mom who really gets it. Some moms find that a local support group or an on line community is a great way to find support.
9. Nurture your Spirit: Whether it is going outside on a bright sunny day or attending church services, find a way to nurture and renew your spirit.
10. Tell Someone Your New Year's Resolution: Write it down and place it on your refrigerator or coffee pot, email your on line support group and tell your husband and best friend. Let them know that you are really serious about your New Year's Resolution and you need them to remind you of the plan and assist in making it a reality.
Best wishes for healthy digestion in the New Year and I hope you nurture your mind, body and spirit for the hardest job of all: taking care of a baby or child with reflux.
P.S. Send me your New Year's Resolution or create a SharePost so we can all help each other!