When you’re a new mom, practicing self-care is challenging, but it’s also important. Your self-care needs are high, and you’re busy with a newborn and major life changes. Ironically, just when you need self-care most is when it’s most difficult to achieve! Here’s why self-care is important for new mothers, what self-care really means, and how to get what you need.
1. Take care of your body.
You may be itching to get back to your pre-baby weight, but bear in mind that breast-feeding requires additional calories and nutrients. Be kind to yourself and concentrate on eating healthy foods. This may seem self-evident, but many mothers are so preoccupied that they fail to even stay hydrated. To add some variation to your water, try placing lemon or cucumber slices in it. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, especially if breastfeeding.
Plan to sleep in one day a week while a family member looks after your baby. To compensate for all the night feedings, try to coordinate your sleep with your baby's. Purchase a comfy sleep bra with convenient nursing access and breast pads to keep leaks at bay while you sleep. Some breastfeeding mothers may find that co-sleeping allows them to get more rest.
Exercising can also fill your days with more energy and enthusiasm. If going to the gym isn’t an option, try going for a walk or jog with a jogging stroller, hike with your baby, or find a local “mommy and me” exercise class. Online workouts are a great option for in-home fitness. Just remember to start slowly.
2. Sleep when the baby is asleep
If you can't sleep when your baby is sleeping, try to go to sleep early in order to get enough rest.
Establishing a bedtime routine at the same time every night is a great way to encourage your baby to fall asleep like clockwork. A good night’s sleep is important for both of you and your baby.
3. Establish a morning routine
Wake up before your baby if you can and make some time to meditate, pray or do affirmations. Starting your day with affirmations can help empower you and put you in a positive mindset. You could try saying, “I am able, I am beautiful, I believe in me” and end it with “Today will be a great day”. Your mornings will run more smoothly the more you practice your routine. Remember to take long, slow, deep breaths - even doing this alone for a few minutes at a time throughout the day will help you to feel more calm and able deal with stress more easily.
4. Look good, feel good
Looking good can help you to feel good. Brushing your hair or even putting mascara on goes a long way. Getting ready for the day can also help to create self-confidence and motivate you.
5. Exercise and fresh air
Exercise is good for your mental health. Going for walks is a great source of exercise. And just opening your door to get some fresh air for a few minutes can make a difference too.
6. Cook easy meals
Cook easy meals, the last thing you want to be doing is spending every night cooking dinner - unless that's something you really enjoy. Plan weekly meals ahead to help you prepare.
7. Sharing is caring
Share responsibilities with your partner or other family member. Asking for help doesn't make you weak, it takes strength to ask for and accept help.
8. Get out of the house and take an adventure.
After having a baby, it's all too tempting to let your world shrink to the boundaries of your home. Make plans to get out of the house with your friends: go for a cup of coffee, a pedicure, supper, a walk in the park, or a movie. Make your time together a ritual to ensure that it becomes a routine and doesn’t keep getting put off.
Use the time your baby spends in the car or in the stroller to explore. Take a day excursion to somewhere you've never visited or go and see something you've always wanted to see. Alternatively, go out on your own. Leave your baby with family and go anywhere for a few hours. Take the time to do the activities you enjoyed doing before the baby arrived.
9. Make time for yourself
Take a long warm shower or bath, whichever you prefer at least once a week. Just relax and enjoy your time and be present. It should be your reward for getting through the week!
10. It’s okay not to be okay
The new born days can be isolating at the best of times, but the pandemic has meant little to no family help and skyrocketing anxiety. Seek help and talk to someone.