Self-care is important, but postpartum self-care is crucial. You cannot pour from an empty cup and newborns (or just children in general) require you to give a lot from your cup. Taking care of yourself becomes essential to stay sane while parenting. As a new mom, even if this isn’t your first child, you have an incredibly high-demand job during the postpartum period. You are up all hours of the night, feeding and comforting a child around the clock. Finding time for yourself isn’t always easy. Taking that time can give you mom guilt. I’m here to remind you that self-care is not selfish.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be an hour-long commitment. It doesn’t even have to be a 10-minute commitment. Spending just a few moments for yourself when you can find the time will be more than enough to fill your cup. Doing that 2-3 times a day will help to maintain a full cup! This won’t be easy every day, but it will make every day just a little easier. Ask your partner, friend, or family member to watch your baby and give you a quick break if you can. Or take advantage of the rare break you get while your baby is napping safely.
I could tell you to book a day at the spa for the ultimate postpartum self-care, but that wouldn’t be realistic for a new mother. Instead, here is a list of things you can actually do to give yourself a little extra TLC:
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This may seem super basic to some, but for many moms changing your clothes isn’t something you even consider. I’ve had days where I have looked down and realized I have been wearing the same clothes for 2 days without even knowing it. OR as I’m writing this, I had to take a break to change my clothes. I realized my clothes from yesterday turned into my pajamas for last night and my outfit for today. Putting some fresh clothes on can give you a quick reset.
All mothers know how rare a shower can be during the postpartum period. You make sure to bathe your baby but don’t consider bathing yourself a priority. Especially when it feels pointless because you know you are just going to get spit-up on you within 2 hours. Even if you are just going to do a quick rinse in the shower, the hot water can do wonders. We have all seen the meme about humans just being more complicated houseplants, right? Well, here is your reminder to water yourself.
Or Fake a Shower
Buy some cleansing body wipes for a quick refresh. There is a reason these were probably offered to you in the hospital after birth. Use some dry shampoo. Face wipes. You’ll be feeling fresh and clean in no time!
Now, I know that not everyone loves to have their nails done. But this was always my go-to self-care move before I was pregnant. I used to paint my nails twice a week while watching a movie or catching up on my favorite shows. I don’t have that kind of time anymore, especially not between breastfeeding early on. Nail stickers are the way to go! These require almost very little time or energy. I usually do these in the car while my husband is driving!
Save yourself time shopping and order a hydrating face sheet or a detoxing face mask for pick-up or delivery! You could also try one of these DIY face masks with things you have around your own home. Whichever mask you choose to use, take some time to give yourself a small spa moment.
No matter how this looks for you, get “ready” for the day. You have a demanding job as a parent and doing what you can to feel “ready” to face those challenges can definitely help you succeed. Sure, it might just be your appearance, but it can make a huge difference in your mood. Put makeup on, braid your hair, or just wash your face. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, this can help you feel a little more human some days.
Finding time (or just a quiet enough moment) to read can be challenging. Be creative with this! One of the things you should know about breastfeeding as a new mom is that it can be draining. (Pun intended.) I try to have a few moments of eye contact and bonding when I begin breastfeeding. Eventually, my son will start to doze off or quit looking at me. I use this time to read. Keep a book or kindle nearby. Or just read from your phone! I discovered the Libby app, which lets you read ebooks from your library for free!
Pro Tip: When I first became a mother, I found myself reading books or articles about parenting, baby development, or other motherhood related topics. You are never really giving yourself a real break if you are still consuming everything parenting related! Find a book that can truly take your mind away from all of your parenting duties.
I don’t know about you, but I end up washing my hands approximately 1,358,745 times each day. Between the diaper changes, spit-ups, and being a new mom in a pandemic, my hands are dry. Putting lotion on and fixing just that small problem alone feels like postpartum self-care to me. If you can do a full-body rub down with stress-relieving lotion (or coconut oil!), take advantage of that! When I don’t have time for that, I make a routine of putting lotion on my hands and feet each night after putting the baby down to sleep. You deserve soft skin, mama.
I have been using meditation as a form of self-care since before my son was ever even a thought in my mind. Meditation is the ultimate mind, body, and soul reset for me. Ask someone to watch your baby so you can “check out” briefly. Find a guided meditation on Spotify and a quiet place (if one exists). Meditation is a learned skill and comes more easily with practice. Learn more about how to meditate here.
Phone a Friend
Spending all day with a baby who can only communicate with a limited range of sounds can leave you desperate for a real conversation. Call someone close to you and check in with them. The postpartum period can oftentimes shrink your world into the confines of your own home. Expand your world again little by little and start to invite the outside world in. I guarantee there are a few people who would love to hear from you!
Book a Therapy Session
I am a huge advocate for therapy. Therapy has helped get me through some of the most difficult times in my life. As soon as I felt myself slipping in the postpartum time, I called my therapist for a session. Virtual appointments are available and make counseling much easier for a new parent. There is no need to load up your baby into a car seat, lug them into an office, and then fight traffic on the way home. We are trying to remove stress, not add to it! Giving your mind some love is absolutely postpartum self-care.
For many people, journaling is already something they incorporate into their lives. Anyone who is not familiar with journaling might not know where to begin. Here are a few journaling prompts to get your journaling self-care started:
- List 3 personal things you are proud of
- Give yourself a true and genuine compliment
- What was something challenging for you today?
- List 5 traits that you like about yourself
- Is there something that you have learned recently?
Journaling might just look like a “brain dump”. A brain dump is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You dump everything you possibly can out of your brain and onto a page. Write out every thought that crosses your mind for 10 minutes. Set a timer and let it out. Don’t reread it. Ignore any spelling or grammar mistakes, they don’t matter. Throw it in the garbage when you are done. Get that stress and all of those worries out of your mind and out of your life.
Pre-pregnancy, I would dedicate up to an hour’s worth of time for yoga practice. Post-baby, that isn’t quite realistic most days. Search youtube for some quick yoga practices. There are many you can do from a chair or even your bed! Yoga has so many benefits (https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit). Dedicating even a few minutes to adjust your body and mind can impact your whole day.
Customize Your Postpartum Self-Care
Postpartum self-care can look different for everyone. What might work for me, may not be something that interests you. Going for a run or drawing may be your form of self-care. This might also change with each day. Your needs are constantly evolving with each moment. Before you begin any kind of self-care, it helps to take a moment to turn inward. Ask yourself what you need at this moment. What would make you feel good right now? Do that. You have earned it, mama.
What do you do for self-care? Add a comment below to give other new parents some suggestions!