The topic of self-care has been around for a long time, but people don’t always know
what it means or understand how to practically apply self-care measures to themselves in their own lives. This is especially true for new mothers who are giving their full attention to the care of their young babies, and feel like taking time for themselves is somehow selfish. It’s so important for new moms to recognize that when you set aside time for pampering and relaxing, you revive, reenergize, and refocus in such a way that you’re better able to be more present and to care for others.
Get Enough Sleep
While it’s perhaps one of the trickier self-care measures when you’re a new parent,
getting adequate sleep is essential to postpartum recovery. According to Mayo Clinic, the old adage of “sleep when your baby sleeps” is true, but you also need to be
proactive in getting assistance from your partner, spouse or housemates to ensure
you’re getting enough rest. This might mean taking turns getting up, or otherwise
arranging daily schedules in such a way that everyone gets much-needed Zs. If you
have a hard time falling asleep, use a white noise machine, blackout bedroom curtains,
so simply lay down, relax and close your eyes as a quick recharge.
New parents often have to train themselves that it’s okay to say “no” to their children, so you might as well get comfortable with this tact by turning down commitments, favors, and tasks you really don’t have the bandwidth to agree to. This could mean anything from group get-togethers, requests for volunteer work, or even non-essential household chores. Even if something is presented to you as a “fun activity,” like getting together with friends, you need to be your own priority. While you don’t want to become a parental hermit and never leave your house – getting out is a self-care measure in itself – you shouldn’t feel compelled to over-extend if you aren’t feeling it.
Keep Stress Low
According to Parenting, new motherhood can bring with it varying degrees of anxiety
and uncertainty, but you can ensure you’re in the right state of mind for yourself and
your baby by practicing relaxation techniques to keep you calm and centered. Activities like yoga can help you feel like yourself again. Guided meditation and relaxation techniques can also be useful tools for reducing stress. In addition to the “in the moment” benefits these mindful practices provide, they also equip you with the tools to quickly calm yourself in stressful situations. For example, being practiced in slowing your breathing and calming your nerves can be an amazing asset when you’re in a long line in a store with a crying baby. A major source of stress in our lives is centered around the state of our finances. Review your budget and look for areas where you can save. For instance, you can shop in bulk to save on groceries or sign up for streaming services instead of cable. And if you’re a homeowner, refinancing could provide your family with some extra cash.
Use Natural Remedies
Talk to your OB/GYN about natural remedies that can get you back into your regular routine. For example, eating a well-balanced diet designed specifically for new moms can help ensure you’re getting your body back and staying healthy while providing your baby with appropriate nutrients if you’re nursing. Exercising, whether through yoga or stroller walks with your baby, can also help alleviate tension. All of these approaches will also aid in reducing the chances for depression and anxiety. If you do feel sad or stressed, talk to your doctor, as you may be battling postpartum depression.
Being a new mother can be both wonderfully exhilarating, as well as a mental, emotional, and physically taxing journey. Taking time for self-care will not only help you, but will also position you to be an attentive, caring, and present parent and partner.