What is Self care? Everyone is talking about it but can be difficult to imagine what self-care for new moms can look like. Read on for 5 thoughtful ways to practice self-care during this delicate time.
Late nights out at restaurants and bars, endless social calls with friends, cozy-ing up with a good book or taking a relaxing bath. This may be what "self-care" looked like before you had children but now a days with little sleep and feeling trapped at home most nights, it can be difficult to imagine how you can practice self-care when you can't even manage to find time to shower these days. Let's face it, becoming a mom is one of the most rewarding experiences filled with love like you could never imagine and it's also one of the most challenging times. It's a time where moms can lose themselves because we are no longer the single person who is free to come and go as we please or can take social calls at the drop of a hat. By the end of this article I hope that you have 5 new ways to regain some self-care strategies and finding small ways to be yourself again.
Read on to learn the new ways to self care.
Tip #1 - Run Away!
Just kidding- well sort of. One of the best ways to combat postpartum anxiety and depression as well as other postpartum issues is to exercise and walking/ jogging can be a great way to do that. I know, you are thinking about exiting this article right now if some one else tells you to "lose the baby weight". This isn't about that though. Walking is something that you can do for yourself and your baby that can be tailored to your needs. If you just had a c-section or had difficulty exercising during your pregnancy you may want to try walking. If you enjoy running and wanted to get back into it they make jogging strollers (a link to one can be found here). It gets you out of the house, gets your endorphins pumping (endorphins are chemicals in our brain released when we exercise that make us feel good), and you have the experience of accomplishing something that you did for yourself. It can also lull your little one to sleep which is an added bonus for you mom! Remember to pace yourself and don't put pressure on yourself to return to your pre-baby ability to exercise and move.
Tip #2 - Pace Yourself
Decide how often you want to practice self-care. Be realistic about it. Think you can walk/read/do a date night twice a month? Commit to once a month and stick to it.
As I mentioned above it's temping to place pressure on yourself to return back to your old ways of functioning soon after you give birth but you soon learn that it's not realistic because everything has changed from your sleep to your body. And that's okay. Be realistic about how much time you can put into your new activities and recognize that it's a process that is always evolving and changing with you.
Tip #3 - Ask for Help
When I first had my daughter and I began to realize that everything had changed around me and I was terrified. Would I let anyone else in on that feeling ? Absolutely not. I felt as though the minute I became a mom I was just supposed to know what to do and as a mom I should be able to magically handle everything that came at me. This feeling of you're either doing everything right and being a "good mom" or your doing everything wrong and are a "bad mom" is a scary and lonely feeling. I want you to know that it is normal to feel overwhelmed and if you ask others for support you are doing whats best for yourself which in turn is what's best for your baby. Support could be your partner, family, friends, co-workers, medical professionals or anyone else in your life. It could be asking a family member to watch the baby while you go to the store to shop alone, it could be asking your partner to take over feeding so you can take a much needed nap, asking to see friends for play dates, or ordering out for dinner because you don't feel like cooking. All of these are a great way to take small moments for yourself which is at the heart of all self-care activities.
"As many as 1 in 7 women will develop postpartum depression."
– National Institute of Health
Tip #4 - Mix it Up
You work so hard to get that baby into a steady routine of feeding, napping, playing and everything in between that sometimes you too also get trapped into the monotony of wake, feed, sleep. So don't be afraid to switch it up and try something new. When the baby is sleeping unleash your inner creative and redecorate a room, or finish that art project that you started, call a friend and have a much overdue chat, get back to baking. Whatever you used to love find small moments to reengage with the parts of life that make you feel whole. Trying something new can also be a great way to self-care. Here are some new hobbies to try:
Having a cup of coffee with a friend
Scrap-booking or Crafting
Listening to Podcasts
Taking a bath or long shower
Doing your hair or makeup for the day
Going shopping alone
Redecorating / Interior Design
Talking a walk or sitting outside
Going to Support Groups
Tip #5 - Be Kind to Yourself
Lastly, be kind to yourself. This is not an easy process for anyone to go to even if people make it look that way on the outside. You are meant to be your own cheerleader and you are doing the best you can in the moment with the information you have. Sometimes it is more than just the baby blues and you may be feeling hopeless or helpless with your situation. If you have tried but are unable to shake your depression or anxiety about 2 weeks after birth you may want to look into therapy or a support group for moms. Therapy is one of the most beneficial and important ways to practice self-care. It is a time just for you where you have a compassionate and non-judgemental professional there to listen and guide you through this new process. There is no shame in needing or asking for help because you aren't alone. You can learn more about Perinatal Mental Health and different supports on the Postpartum Support International website.
Remember whatever you choose to do take it slow and remember getting back to yourself takes time. A happy mom means a happy baby. Taking care of yourself shouldn't be stressful or guilt filled: To schedule an appointment for therapy for postpartum issues click here.