Self-care is easily banded around these days and often used to refer to a multitude of things you must be doing – making it all feel quite exhausting!
As a new mum – whilst the idea of self-care probably sounds incredible and like total bliss, you’re probably thinking ‘well when am I going to get the time to schedule that in?’.
Even as a very new mum you’ve got used to putting yourself last, ensuring that everyone else is taken care of, putting on that smile, and telling the world ‘I’m ok’ before you’ve even thought about tending to your own needs or even asking for help.
However, cliches aside, your health – mental, emotional, and physical are so important and taking care of yourself is essential to your parenting journey ahead – whether you are pregnant, just had a baby or in the throes of parenting your toddler.
This Mother’s Day we are asking all you amazing mothers and mothers to be to celebrate motherhood and yourselves not just for the day with gifts and flowers, but by investing in yourself and taking care of the wonderful being who is holding it all together.
Build Your Tribe!
Pandemic, lockdowns, social distancing have all taught us one thing – people matter, and human interaction is so important to us all.
As midwives we’ve always known how essential having a support network of different people around before, during and after birth is – and even more so now. Whilst it’s harder during lockdown to build your tribe that will help you and uplift you during parenthood, it’s still very possible. Online, virtual on calls – friends and family can still be there for you. It’s been amazing to watch parents connect and support each other during our antenatal classes – sharing tips, giving advice or just being there because you can all relate.
Once baby arrives don’t be shy in asking for help – it’s what friends and family are desperate to do. Delegate tasks so you can hunker down and enjoy the early new days with your baby. Don’t be afraid of making a support bubble with family or friends to help you in the early days. Let someone drop off dinner one day a week or call a friend to grab a few items from the shops for you. In a few weeks meet up with friends (socially distanced if necessary) in the park and enjoy a walk together.
Find Time For You
Allow yourself time for you. While it can be tempting to use the time when your baby sleeps to catch up on work or chores, you can also take a few of those minutes to relax, work in the garden, play with pets, bake, sew, paint, dance, sing, or anything else you enjoy.
And don’t underestimate the healing power of a bath or shower. Having a loved one watch your baby for 30 minutes so you can soak in the tub or take a leisurely shower has a profound effect on your ability to relax. Add plants, aromatherapy, relaxing nature sounds, or candles to create a spa-like atmosphere in your bathroom or sometimes, a quick shower is all you need to feel human again. And if no one’s available to watch your baby, keep a bouncer in the bathroom so you can sneak in to wash your hair.
Build in Alone Time
Whether this is your first baby or you’re expanding your family – it’s easy to get caught up in being parents and forget about your adult relationships. Life changes with every baby – and so will your relationship. Take time to invest in it – do things together to relax and unwind. Binge watch in the evenings when the babies are in bed, get out for a walk together, grab a coffee or if you have someone to watch baby have a baby-free meal.
Take Care of Yourself
Your postpartum body is still going through all sorts of changes, so you need to take good care of yourself.
Eat: You may be eager to return to your pre-baby figure, but remember your body needs extra calories and nutrients to breastfeed. Be gentle with yourself and focus on eating wholesome food.
Drink water: This may seem like an obvious one, but many mums are so busy they forget to stay hydrated. Try putting lemon or cucumber slices in your water to add some variety. Always carry a water bottle with you.
Sleep: It’s a cliché but it’s also true – sleep when baby sleeps. You need it and you’ll function so much better once you’ve rested.
Exercise: Start slowly and gently. Take your time and pace yourself. Try going for a walk or jog with a jogging stroller, bike with your baby, or try online workouts which are a great option for in-home fitness.
Be Kind to Yourself.
Parenting is an all consuming job. It’s normal to feel sad, negative, or angry sometimes, so don’t be hard on yourself about those feelings. Focus on the things you can control and celebrate small victories. Remember that a tough moment does not make a tough day or a tough life.
Your kids may not always want hugs and snuggles, and someday they’ll go to bed without fussing. Nothing lasts forever.
Also, remember that part of happiness lies in setting realistic expectations. Be gentle with yourself with regard to losing baby weight, planning social gatherings, and achieving your life’s ambitions. Whenever possible, postpone major life changes until you’ve settled into your new role as a mother.
Like pregnancy and birth, every parenting journey is unique, so don’t judge yourself by what others are doing. Remember you’re exactly who your child needs; no matter where you are in your parenting journey, you’re the most important person in the world to your child.