Prioritizing parenthood, life and work
Finding life balance as a new parent can be challenging. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are many key strategies to help guide you towards success.
I punctuated my medical school training, the rigors of residency and the tortuous roads of private practice with four babies and a blossoming marriage, while leaving plenty of time to practice medicine.
Being a first-time parent can be overwhelming. Know that this is normal — and adopt a calm, resolute mindset as you begin this new chapter of your life. Here are tips to help you along the way.
Stay Positive and Organized
Start planning before you deliver, ideally during your second trimester. Create your birth plan, organize the nursery, and get all the equipment for your baby’s needs. A delivery checklist app is available on most smartphones. Enlist the help of loved ones and supporters throughout the process. Delegate tasks whenever possible. If you plan on breastfeeding, educate yourself on the basics of nursing and pumping early on to ease into the process. Don’t pump before delivery, which can make your uterus contract early. Make a work plan: Do you have the option of working remotely, delegating your tasks to a colleague or taking a hiatus? Think about your career goals after delivery, and put them into action. Having a master schedule is important. Use technology to align your work and family schedules.
Be Flexible and Adaptable
Even when you plan things to a T, they sometimes go off-course. That’s ok! During my training to be a doctor, I became pregnant with my first and second babies. I continued my training and took a short leave after delivery to enjoy motherhood, to establish a proper milk flow for nursing and to recover. If you choose to return to work after a few weeks, focus on your baby’s routine, and plan childcare. Your partner and family supporters are integral as you make these plans. If you have other children, engage them in childcare with supervision. This promotes family togetherness and bonding, and allows you to spend your time on other tasks.
Press Your Reset Button
Talk to your provider about maintaining a well-balanced, nutritious diet and a daily exerexercise regimen. Take walks with your newborn, sync your sleep schedule with your baby’s and eat your colors (plenty of fruits and veggies!). Take care of your mind, body and soul to refresh your energy and to give you the clarity needed to navigate the roads of parenthood.
Farzanna S. Haffizulla, MD, FACP, is a former President of the American Medical Women’s Association and author of Lead with Your Heart: A Doctor’s Rx for Personal and Professional Success and Harmony of the Spheres: Career, Family and Community — A Working Mom’s Lessons of Love, Strength and Balance. For more information, visit BusyMomMD.com.