There are a lot of nerves that can build when you are about to or have recently become a new mother. The postpartum phase is not the same for all moms. But most of the time, intense feelings of love can drive a new mom into her new role without much thought or effort. That is, until the exhaustion hits. Between lack of sleep and residual pain to new responsibilities and feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to find time for yourself once baby arrives. How can you take care of both yourself and your child, while tackling all the other responsibilities of your life?
Above All Else, Be Kind to Yourself
More likely than not, these first few weeks will feel like a blur. And while there will be moments of stillness and calm as you watch your newborn in bliss, there will be just as many moments of chaos. This postpartum time is going to be tough but creating certain habits now will help you throughout your entire life as a mother. Taking care of your child is going to take up space in your heart, mind, and physical being. Practicing self-care now will help you maintain the energy and mental stability in order to be the best mom you can be.
Self-Care Tips for New Moms
Schedule Your Sleep
First things first, you have to sleep. The most common piece of sleep advice is that “mom should sleep when the baby sleeps”. But that piece of advice isn’t always helpful. Some moms don’t do well taking multiple naps throughout the day.
If you fall into that category, begin scheduling your sleep. Go to bed with your baby early each night, and allow yourself to sleep after early morning feedings. If you can still get 7-8 hours of sleep, even if you have to break it up, you’re going to feel so much better throughout your day. Be intentional with your sleep schedule and do your best to be flexible. If you don’t, your day is only going to feel that much more stressful and emotionally exhausting.
Get Out of the House
There is a chance that you will be susceptible to the baby blues. This postpartum depression can include mood swings and feelings of anxiety and sadness that typically emerge 3-5 days after giving birth and dissipate on their own within a few weeks. Those who have gone through it have often said that getting out of the house each day was extremely helpful during the postpartum phase.
While you don’t need to be a social butterfly, taking the time to see your friends and family outside of the house will help you feel like yourself again. Take your baby on a long walk and enjoy the extra endorphins and vitamin D. Or treat yourself to a fancy coffee with a friend. Look for groups that cater and foster friendships between new moms who can relate to everything you’re going through. There is a whole world beyond the walls of your nursery, a world for both you and your baby to explore.
In the early stages, you’re going to be feeding every 1-2 hours. It’s going to be tempting to use that time to scroll through your feeds. Be intentional with this time instead of mindlessly scrolling. Put your screen down, close your eyes, and connect to your breath. You can try mindfulness or gratitude practices, journaling, or even positive self-talk. When the rest of your time feels chaotic and out of control, use these still moments to connect to the present!
Delegate and Ask for Help
While we are not in your specific situation, we hope you have some kind of support system during this time. Having a baby shouldn’t just be your responsibility, but rather a team effort. If someone offers you help, let them help you. Allow them to use their skills and talents to help you during this time. Let people bring you food, run errands, or even watch your baby so that you can take a few moments for yourself to de-stress.
You won’t be able to exercise or workout for 6 weeks once your baby is born. But once you have been cleared, utilize exercise as a way to stabilize your mood and empower you. You’re not going to get your pre-pregnant body back immediately, but body composition is only one of the benefits of regular exercise. Go for long walks. Follow a Yoga with Adriene YouTube practice. Sign up for a mommy and me class. Ask for that help and take an hour for yourself to go to the gym. Whichever way you want to get moving again, take the time to actually do it.
Journaling is a great tool, not just for new moms, but everyone. Research shows that journaling may help ease anxiety and depression. Even if you only journal a single line some days, embrace that emotional release. Journaling allows you to vent frustrations and organize stressful thoughts. It can help you feel anchored in big decisions or personal struggle. Write down everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And especially make sure to write down all the things you want to remember about this special time. Journals are great to reflect upon as your baby and you grow together.
Establish a Routine or Do Certain Things Each Week
We know not everyone is a “planner”. But maintaining some kind of schedule or routine can help new mom’s keep their sanity. Find routines that work for your family and stick to them. The more consistent you can be, the more you’ll be able to take care of yourself and other responsibilities because there will be some balance in your life.
If that feels too overwhelming, perhaps try creating a list of things you’d like to do each week and check them off. This can include things like:
- Taking a hot bath
- Eat at least one nourishing meal while sitting at an actual table
- Drinking enough water
- Calling a friend
- Watching something funny or reading a book
- Practice yoga, mindfulness, or meditation
- Doing something that makes you happy
- Doing something with your partner to reconnect
Would you deprive your child of eating healthy foods or moving their bodies? What about letting them get enough rest, play with friends, or doing things they enjoy? Of course, you wouldn’t. So why would you deprive yourself of those things? Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is the belief that you are worthy of a healthy and joyful life.
Let CPA Help Too!
You’ve just gone through real physical trauma and are in the midst of a huge life change. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. And allow yourself to reach out if you feel you need more help. There are so many expectations and ideas regarding what motherhood should look like. However, our experiences don’t always match up.
Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. At CPA, we will always encourage parents to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help teach you the skills to help you practice parental self-care.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Amber Kottner – LPC
I enjoy helping others and strive to assist you in your journey. I believe that each individual is authentic and deserves an approach that best fits them. Therefore, I enjoy working from eclectic approaches, including an emphasis on cognitive-behavioral techniques, person-centered therapy, and solution-focused goals.
Therapy is a special partnership. I’m here to help make an improvement in your life. You decide what you want to work on, and together, we will work to get you there in the best and most fitting way possible.