Taking Care of Yourself
New moms quickly learn that self-care takes on a new dimension of commitment and effort..
In the early days of your postpartum journey, finding the time to schedule a massage much less taking a relaxing bath, can be pretty much impossible. You discover that it’s not as simple as just heading out the door for a self-care fix.
Although the free time to indulge in self-care activities has been cut down, becoming a mom does not reduce the need for self-care. In fact, a self-care upgrade is befitting for new moms!
Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First
When you care for yourself, you are in a better place of mind and heart to care for your children and family.
It’s similar to when you’re on an airplane and the flight attendants go over the emergency instructions. They actually tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before putting on your child’s.
Self-Care the Mommy Way
You still may be wondering how to self-care as a mom when you’re faced with juggling so many other responsibilities.
Being intentional about caring for yourself is a way to nurture your spirit. It’s a portal to feeling alive when you’re so worn out and defeated. It’s also a way to offer love to yourself.
Solitude for moms is hard to come by. For example, something as simple as using the bathroom, which was once known as a solitary activity, becomes a Mom & Baby event most times. To get any solitude as a mom, or request it, may seem impractical. Or, it may trigger feelings of guilt.
It’s perfectly acceptable to get time to yourself and away from your children and family.
Try looking for moments of solitude throughout your day by walking to the mailbox alone, sitting down with a cup of tea while your children are napping, or sneaking outside at night to gaze at the stars after the children have gone to bed.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils, which are derived from plants. Consider a rose or jasmine— their fragrances make up the “soul” of the plant and are used to create essential oils.
Researchers have found that fragrance impacts feelings and mood because the nasal passage directly communicates with the part of the brain that controls emotion and memory. If you have a pleasant memory associated with a particular scent, then your brain has recorded that in its files.
Aromatherapy is a simple and convenient way to self-care. In their book, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, Keville and Green praise lemon’s “clean” fragrance for helping to maintain emotional balance and well-being. Lavender has been extensively studied and has been shown to alleviate stress, exhaustion, and irritability. They also share that vanilla’s fragrance is “consoling and soothing…and can help dissolve pent-up anger and frustration.”
Exhaustion is characteristic of new motherhood. It also has been found to be a major contributor to postpartum depression.
The best you can do is try to make sleep a priority as much as possible. During the early postpartum days, moms are up all hours of the night tending to their baby’s needs, and a restful night of sleep is likely not going to happen. However, naps are a great concession for sleep exhaustion!
Resist the urge to fold the laundry or unload the dishwasher when your baby is napping, and, instead, take a nap yourself. Or reach out and ask someone to watch your baby while you nap.
Many new moms are not able to sleep due to insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night), which is also symptom of postpartum depression and anxiety. If you’re having problems with insomnia, be sure to mention it to your doctor or connect with a maternal mental health professional.
Joining a mom support group can remind you that you’re not alone. Sharing your fears and worries with another mom who is walking the same motherhood journey can be comforting.
Support can also come in the form of a postpartum doula. A doula tends to the needs of the new mom (their job is to “mother the mother”) and the family through education about baby care and breastfeeding, preparing nutritionally balanced meals, and addressing sleep habits.
A baby nurse also tends to the needs of the new mom and provides education. However, a baby nurse focuses on the care of the newborn. They also specialize in sleep and schedule training.