Being a new mom can be overwhelming. No, let me rephrase that, it is often overwhelming and exhausting. I think that’s one thing all new moms would agree with. It stands to reason that new mom self-care could be left on the back burner.
We all hear things like this before we have kids. So like you, I tried to prepare myself by informing myself as much as possible. However, while it’s good practice to stay abreast of what research says on how to best parent, parenting styles or teaching approaches for child development, don’t over work yourself.
“Taking care of you is arguably the most important. If you’re not good, your child won’t have you at your best.”
Mental health is also more than postpartum depression, there are also other topics that fall this category like everything from self-care techniques for moms to ways to decrease your anxiety as a new mom. All this information compounded with long nights and runny noses, is enough to make us a little nuts.
So, let’s count down to the top self-care tips as a new mama!
NEW MOM SELF-CARE GUIDE
YOU GUESSED IT, GET ACTIVE.
Perk up, it’s not about dragging yourself to the gym in those new spanxs you bought, it’s really about finding the movement that keeps you active and having fun.
I always say it doesn’t matter whether it is playing basketball with the kiddos or getting away and running on the boardwalk. It could also be having more structure and joining a fitness class. These can be more motivating because there are others there and it gets a little social.
Activity isn’t only about losing the weight
Ah getting active doesn’t only have to do with losing the extra baby weight, it is bringing together your physical health with your mental, emotional and psychological health.
Activity and movement helps your body naturally regulate your hormones. This means activity can help you actually physically feel better, as exercise or movement stimulates the release of feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.
Beyond that maybe the Zumba class was actually super fun because it reminded you of the good old days and how much you like to let out a good dance! Of course there are longer term effects of exercise and movement such as weight loss and toning up. But remember it’s really not all that it’s about!
Looking for ways to lose the baby weight, tried and tested —check out my workout routine guide.
TRY YOUR BEST TO EAT FULL, HEALTHY MEALS FOR SOLID NEW MOM SELF-CARE.
This one looks like it doesn’t really belong in the self-care section…but it does. It really does. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding.
Becoming a new mom usually means you don’t have time for a shower, let alone time to eat. This is a tough one in the beginning. However, once you establish some type of support to help with food prep and/or routine around it, it is life changing.
Furthermore, how you eat has a direct effect on how you feel. Obvious I suppose, but actually if you think about it, it does not only have a direct effect but also a knock on effect. What does that mean?
EATING 101 FOR NEW MOM SELF-CARE:
“The types of foods have a direct effect on your mood.”
Eating lots of sugar gives you the initial high but also leads to a hard crash. Foods or drinks that give you an artificial boost of energy, tend to have worse effects in the opposite direction.
Take soft drinks, as an example. You might feel a burst of intense energy initially from both the sugar and the caffeine, however lethargy after the sugar and caffeine has worn off is a common latent symptom.
A friend of my husband once said that you are ‘borrowing happiness from tomorrow’. Wise words. You are using energy you don’t actually have so of course the let down is going to affect you negatively physically and emotionally.
One of the mothers in our mama’s group is a Health Coach. She runs detoxes several times a year, which I thought was a brilliant idea. I had never done a detox before and didn’t even know what it was. If you’re familiar with detoxes you know there are loads of them out there. Detoxing drinks, foods, programs, ones that you do alone or in combination with other things.
Make sure you do your research first before doing one. The one I did was a way for me to rejuvenate my body and mind after pregnancy, along with my fitness plan where I managed to lose the baby weight after only 9 weeks! Having terrible morning sickness and then developing gestational diabetes at the end of my pregnancy, I really just wanted to hit the reset button.
If you didn’t have all of those lovely things develop during your pregnancy, chances are that you haven’t eaten exactly how you ate before pregnancy. To take it a step further, were you eating perfectly healthy before pregnancy?
Kudos to you if you were, my hat’s most certainly off to you. Most of us did not. So getting involved in a detox program that allows you to peel back your diet and remove foods slowly, and then reintroduce them can help you observe and document what works for your body.
This gives greater visibility to assess your body’s new needs and perhaps if there are sensitivities. Doing the detox, eating well, along with my exercise routine helped me kickstart my body.
Eating 202 FOR NEW MOM SELF-CARE:
“Eating poorly and avoiding activity can lead to a potentially negative self image.”
So basically not eating well for many of us can have indirect effects such as weight gain and/or other health concerns such as diabetes. After having a baby many mamas cite feeling different of course and try to get back to their original weight. Eating well certainly is half the battle in losing those extra pounds put on carrying your baby.
I often say strike a balance –self-care certainly doesn’t mean starving yourself, but it does mean that being more conscious of what you put in your body is key to feeling good about yourself in the short and long term. It can be difficult to find time to prep meals with a new baby or just generally being a mom. I find it helpful to prep my meals while doing my son’s. Also because he’s eating solids now, we all eat together, which ensures I actually remember to eat (well) too!
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. YES, YOU HAVE PERMISSION.
Easier said than done is probably what you’re thinking. Don’t we all wish we could do this?
That we can just use the washroom in peace, take a long relaxing shower without someone asking for this, that or the other. Don’t we all just pray to the Gods and universe that we could go on a vacation and read a book like the good ol’ days.
Listen, this one isn’t easy for a lot of reasons that might be specific to your situation like finding child care, a child with special or high needs, having a hard time leaving your child if you’re a new mama, breastfeeding, etc, but trust me, if you are in good shape then you can give the best of yourself to your child(ren) and those around you.
Creating time for you
The big question is how to create ‘me’ time? It’s really about two things:
1. doing it as early as possible so you establish this as a norm in your family, if possible and
2. using the resources around you to carve out a space for yourself.
Speaking to your partner, family members, friends or someone trusted to help is so important. Alternate babysitting with a friend, or now many gyms have child care that can be helpful.
Once you do that, do whatever makes you feel balanced and joyful. That could mean finding a bed and taking a cat nap, or going for a walk. Really my point here was to also highlight the need for mommies to pursue some of their own interests. It fosters a sense of self in a process that many moms cite losing themselves and their identities.
So in the end, do something –anything, but do something that re-energizes your battery and fills you up again. For me, I like working with my hands so besides doing some physical fitness, I also enjoy making crafty DIY things.
STAY CONNECTED. EVERYONE NEEDS A FRIEND OR TWO.
“A staple of self-care is staying connected to your support community.”
However you define your support system, partner, parents, extended family, friends, your mama’s group –studies show that folks that have real or perceived support show better signs of mental health. What that means is that even if you don’t actually use your support systems all that much, the fact that you know you can is actually just as good as real support.
Self-care is about staying involved and feeling like you. Many mamas say they forget what it’s like to feel like themselves or that they don’t even know who they are anymore. Staying in touch with your support circle can provide a very immediate feeling of support, togetherness and sanity.
SLEEP. SLEEP AND MORE SLEEP.
Ah the holy grail. THE Sleep.
It’s been a long time since I really felt I had a really good sleep. Well, unfortunately, this one often isn’t in a mom’s control. Trust me, I get it. While nursing my son has been an amazing experience, it also has been at a cost to my sleep. Mamas with older children tell me that you will find sleep again in the future. Seriously, my fingers are crossed.
In any case, sleep is the ultimate new mom self-care plan. Sleep has an effect on your mood and immune system. Some folks do better without sleep than others. I for one, am not one of them.
I actually knew that before I had my son and believe it or not, that was the thing I was scared about the most. The lack of sleep. Not birth. Lack of sleep. Laugh if you want, it still is the thing I shudder at the thought of.
It is difficult to come by a lot of the time, but when you can manage to sleep, try to. Don’t cook or clean if you can manage it. Take some ‘you’ time.
NEW MOM SELF-CARE IS ABOUT ‘YOU’ HOLISTICALLY
“Establishing some ‘you time’ in the context of your family and intimate partner relationship is key to not only you, but your child(ren). It’s important that you prioritize yourself so, as I say, you can give your tribe the best of yourself.”
New mom self-care is about you holistically, don’t forget about yourself physically, mentally/psychologically, emotionally and perhaps spiritually.
How do you self-care as a new mom? Like and comment below. We want to hear how other moms do it!
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Be good to yourself,