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Congratulations! After a long journey, your labour of love lies in your arms, and you can’t believe that they are finally here. You’re home now and wondering if you can do this. You’re wondering if your life will ever be the same again. You’re thinking that you have to do things perfectly or you will break your baby.
Your mind is racing more now than ever because this is new territory for you, especially if you’ve had only boys, only girls, or there is a big age gap between your children.
It’s taking everything in you to stay awake and care for this tiny miracle. The exhaustion and sleep deprivation are real and you fight to get a handle on this.
You find yourself scouring the interwebs looking for the best of the crème de la crème to aid you in caring for your baby….
But what about you, Mama? Your self-care matters, too! Part of being the best mom to your babies is being the best woman to yourself! Getting back to your best will take practice and work because your to-do list has changed. I know that your mind is filled with what your baby needs, but there are five keys to self-care after giving birth you’ll want to keep in mind when you are home and somewhat settled with your little one.
#1: If you have help, USE IT!
No, they won’t always be there; however, use the help you have and resist the urge to become Superwoman at home. Yes, it can be tirelessly confusing to articulate how your baby needs to be cared for. Some will look at you with that “I know how to take care of a baby” face but use that burst of strength to do just that! They mean well and will understand once they try what they know, and it doesn’t work. That is when you will have to lovingly remind them of what you said.
Whether you need help to nap or shower, do housework and meal prep, or run important errands, please let your help do what they’re there to do – HELP!
#2: Watch what you eat, read, listen to, and watch!
“But, my baby’s born, so does that still matter?” Yes, it does because it can affect how you care for your baby. What you eat is absorbed into your breast milk and then taken in by your baby. Certain foods can diminish the nutritional quality of your milk, meaning that your baby doesn’t get all of the vital nutrients they need. Reading certain books can cause you to make your load heavier. How? You will stress yourself out by thinking that you have to do everything you read. Clear your head and heart by doing what is BEST for you AND your baby, which isn’t always found in those books! The things you read to entertain yourself can cause you to change the way you see your baby, so be careful here!
Your baby won’t go through many of the things that you read about, so don’t get yourself all worked up and start creating issues that aren’t there. Your little one will show you something different every day, so enjoy the experience and learn as you go! Just like reading, the things that we listen to can disrupt our flow and have us scatterbrained while we’re supposed to be getting ourselves together. You want to make sure that the things you entertain yourself with don’t have you worse for wear. Be sure to listen to things that inspire, encourage, uplift, and equip you to be a better woman and a better mom!
Finally, the things you watch can affect both you and your baby. You may also find that your preferences have changed, and the things you enjoyed before and during pregnancy no longer appeal to you. Also, certain sounds can disrupt your baby’s natural rhythm, startle them in their sleep, or cause them to be extremely fussy.
#3: Get what YOU need, too!
When you’re strong enough to get out and do your own shopping, know that it’s okay to pick up something for yourself. This key to self-care is a no-brainer. You deserve some pampering too! Having a baby doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything you enjoy having and doing – you just have to be a little bit more creative in how you do it.
- Don’t feel guilty for wanting time for yourself
- Walk down the aisles you forgot existed
- Stop and smell candles
- See how that purse sits on your shoulders
- Look through the movie section
- A glance at book covers
- Grab that pick-me-up that still brings you joy
What you need matters just as much!
#4: Don’t have a closed mouth!
“What does THIS have to do with self-care?” More than you think! Tell people you know how you’re making it through the day. If you’re not okay, say so and let someone help you. Invite your Mom Circle of Friends over when you need adult conversation and face-to-face time. If you don’t have one or aren’t comfortable with having people around yet, there are amazing online communities out there! Join one or a couple that will give you that much-needed support. You may even find someone who lives in your neck of the woods and needs a friend!
#5: Create a self-care routine for yourself!
“Now, why on earth would you save this for LAST?” It was important to do it that way! The first thing new moms think is that they will no longer have space for themselves. That couldn’t be further from the truth! If you are navigating life with your first or your fifth, follow the instructions given to you by your medical team, but include things that you KNOW work for you. Also, understand that self-care isn’t only physical—it’s also mental, emotional, and financial!
Let’s start with physical self-care. While you may not be able to run a 10k after baby, do what is safe for you to do. Start with walking around your house or your yard. Make sure that you are eating well and staying hydrated. Don’t push yourself because the baby is sleeping and think you can save the world before they wake up again. Baby steps, Mama, baby steps!
You may think that mental and emotional self-care go together but they are completely different for moms! Your thoughts determine your feelings and actions, so be careful! Remember how we mentioned that what you read matters? Taking care of what you feed your mind and heart is one way of mentally caring for yourself. Other ways include doing things that enhance and expand your mind such as doing word games and puzzles, listening to soothing and inspirational music or motivational talks, or even learning a new skill.
Emotional self-care comes into play in two ways—how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you. Earlier in the article, there is a mention of those who give you that “I know how to take care of a baby” look. Don’t let the fact that you need help may cause you to cower back when you don’t agree with something. You may not want them to go away yet and need them around for a little while longer, but that does NOT give them the right to disrespect you. Never be afraid to speak and speak out because internalizing your feelings will make you physically ill if it goes unchecked for too long.
Not taking proper care of yourself can be an emotional dealbreaker! You should have the adult version of everything that you have to care for your baby. That may sound strange, but your emotional well-being could depend on it. Whether it’s food or bath products, you need things that make you feel good, soothe you, and calm you. Refer back to the part above about getting what you need, too.
Lastly, financial self-care is one that all new moms worry about, especially if their maternity leave is unpaid. Believe it or not, there are a few things you can do to lighten your load there. Installing a receipt-scanning app on your phone helps. Usually, these apps help you earn money or gift cards for shopping or paying bills. It may not pay your rent but getting into the habit of scanning them can lead to you doing things you haven’t been able to do. Like what, you ask? You can be a blessing to another new mom, give a gift to a family member, or even save for a rainy day!
At the end of the day, the first step of self-care after birth is believing that, although this new little life hangs on your every whim, you can get back to being the awesome woman you were and still are as a mother. What you show that little one is what they will one day stand on and you want to show them that they have a beautifully healthy mom who loves them enough to love herself just as much! Follow these 5 keys to self-care and you’ll be on your way to a healthier and happier you as you heal after giving birth.
Here are a few other articles to help you get through the first few weeks after bringing home a baby.
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