The journey to motherhood can be best described as a wave of emotional, psychological, and physical changes. Some women experience excitement filled with eager anticipation, while others are overwhelmed and exhausted. Growing, birthing, and sustaining a baby’s needs is physically demanding, which is why it’s so important to nourish the body and listen to its natural cues. It’s easy to get caught up in the never ending to-do lists, new baby, and busy schedule, but don’t lose sight of your own personal needs. In order to do all that you do on a daily basis, you need to come first. It is not selfish. I repeat, it is not selfish. Self care is so important! If you’re thinking to yourself, what does self care mean, or I don’t have time…
Here are 10 simple things you can do for yourself, that will make a HUGE difference.
1. Buy a quality nursing bra.
If you are nursing, you will be so thankful to have some quality support. Look for one that opens in the front to make it more convenient for you and your baby during feedings.
2. Take a sitz bath.
After childbirth, your body is in desperate need of some TLC. For the first few days, use DIY disposable witch hazel pads. They are easily made by pouring about 1/4 cup of witch hazel into a spray bottle, adding 2-3 drops of soothing essential oils if desired, and then open and wet each heavy duty pad until it is damp, but not soaked. Then wrap each witch hazel pad in aluminum foil, and place in a zip lock bag in the freezer until they are ready to be used.
A sitz bath is a shallow bath, that will cleanse the perineum area, and reduce itching and discomfort. This can be done in your bathtub or with a basin suspended over your toilet. Herbs may be added to the warm water to soothe sore, swollen, and tender areas, and speed up the healing process. Mountain Rose Herbs and Frontier are both wonderful resources for purchasing any healing herbs.
3. Take a shower.
This may seem obvious, but when you become a mother, enduring sleepless nights, feeding your little one what seems like every 2 seconds…showers are skipped. Try and carve out 5-10 minutes during a nap or between a feeding just for you. Your first real shower after becoming a mother is AMAZING. If you had a cesarean surgery, make sure you wait the recommended amount of time, before showering. If you are unable to shower right away, washing your face and body with a washcloth will help you feel refreshed. Spending time on your skin is a great routine to get into every morning and evening. Choose a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser, wet your face and massage into your skin, then with a nice, warm washcloth, rinse, pat dry, and apply moisturizer. Ideally, this routine should be done twice a day, morning and night, and any time you work up a sweat.
4. Walk it out.
You may or may not feel up to this right away, but it’s a good idea to keep up some level of activity after your baby arrives. Studies show that exercising can reduce the risk of Postpartum Depression, and taking a walk is a great way to bond with your baby, and get some fresh air together! If you notice a sudden change in blood flow, or increase in pain after any activity, please contact your health care provider immediately.
5. Get your hair done.
Pregnancy can drastically affect your hair due to all the hormone levels changing in your body. Many women have reported changes in hair texture, shine, and growth during pregnancy. However, in the postpartum period it’s not uncommon to lose some hair as your hormones return to their normal levels. But don’t worry your hair will soon return to its regular growth cycle. While nutrition, hormones, and stress can all play a part in the health of your hair, it’s important to do what you can to maintain it. Ask your hair stylist how often you should have your hair trimmed and what products are safe to use to manage and strengthen your particular type of hair.
6. Have a spa day.
Now that you can see your toes, treat them to a relaxing pedicure. Turn that massage chair on and just melt. Being a new mother doesn’t mean you have to let go of all the things that make you feel beautiful, it just means you have to find the balance. Even if you can’t go get your nails done as often as you’d like, making self care a priority is what counts. When you are at ease, you will be better equipped to handle the world around you, and it feels good too!
7. Eat wholesome foods
Your body is amazing! Eat foods that will make you feel good, keeping in mind what works for one, make not work for another. Choose foods that nourish your body and its unique nutritional needs. One simple way to start your day with some goodness is with a smoothie! You can add many delicious blends of vegetables, greens, fruits, and seeds, experimenting with different combinations. Have fun with it!
8. Buy new bedding
There is nothing better than climbing into bed with fresh new sheets and pillowcases. Right? Add a fresh spritz of your favorite scent, some soft music, and you will fall asleep in an instant. That is until your sweet little angel decides it’s time to eat…again. It gets better, I promise!
9. Create a Zen space
Everyone needs a space they can go to any time of year to just let it all hang out. It’s a place just for you, filled with things that make you happy and peaceful. Imagine having a place in your home, where you can relax and have a bit of alone time, this could be your bathtub, comfy chair you found at a thrift store, a room to paint, meditate, practice yoga, or sing and dance. Add plants. Add art. Add music. Whatever makes you happy. Go wild. The possibilities are endless. This space is non negotiable, and a MUST for any new mother.
Of all the tips, this one is the most important. The postpartum period is such a delicate time, rest as much as humanly possible. A mother’s needs often come last, because we are too busy keeping everyone and everything on track. However, if you aren’t happy, nobody will be happy. You need to be well rested in order to heal, and remain healthy to take care of your baby. Although it may be difficult to rely on others, often times there will be family members and friends ready to spring into action to lighten your load. They may not do things exactly as you would, but release that and realize that having the help allows you the time and freedom to recover. Postpartum doulas are trained to assist women in this manner as well, and mothers may feel more comfortable sharing all their personal needs with a postpartum doula than they would a family member or friend.