Bringing a baby into the world is wonderful, magical, overwhelming... and stressful. Life becomes consumed with feeding schedules and monitoring how many wet diapers your little one is producing. Days fly by in a blur, leaving you wondering how time can pass so quickly, but you can’t really remember what you did all day. While it is an amazing time, it’s easy for moms to put aside all of their own needs and focus solely on their baby. Of course, it’s important to take good care of your baby, but it’s just as important for new moms to take care of themselves, both mentally and physically. If you’re wondering how this can be achieved, here are 10 self-care tips every new mom must know.
While it may seem like an impossible feat, one important thing you can do is to take some time each day just for yourself. Some days, maybe you’ll only get five minutes, but take that little bit of time away from your baby and do something that you find relaxing and enjoyable.
It could be reading a good book or magazine, taking a hot bath, or going out for a walk by yourself. The point is to do something enjoyable, just for you. This will help to refresh your state of mind and recharge you for when you go back to your baby.
Maybe it’s been one of those days – your baby kept you up all last night and now it’s 3pm and you’re still in pajamas and have yet to brush your teeth. You will have days like this, and it’s totally ok. But on most days, try to get dressed in the morning, and brush your hair and teeth. Maybe “dressed” is just yoga pants and a T-shirt, but you will still feel more accomplished and put-together versus just staying in your pj’s all day. Bathing is more complicated when you have a newborn; you may want to wait until your partner is home so you can relax and spend a few more minutes in the shower or bath.
It’s easy, when you have a newborn, to spend days cooped up in your home. While it may be tempting to just ignore the outside world, especially if you’re sleep deprived, it’s important for your physical and mental well-being to get outside, even for a short while, each day. You and your baby will both benefit from the fresh air and change of scenery, and while you’re pushing along the stroller you’re also getting some exercise. Make a point to leave the house every day, even if it’s only for five minutes.
It’s very important for new moms to eat properly, stay hydrated and take vitamins. This is a time in your life where you are likely stressed out, exhausted, and emotional. You just had a baby, so that's totally normal. But it’s extra important to ensure that you eat a variety of healthy foods, and don’t forget your vitamins. Eating healthily will make you feel better, and give you more energy. An easy way to pack more nutrition into your diet is with a smoothie – they are quick to make and you can fill them with fruits and veggies.
When you’re at home with a new baby, the last thing you probably want to think about is exercising. You may feel like you just don’t have the time or the energy. But exercise can actually give you more energy, and help to clear your head. We’re not talking about running a 10K here; even light exercise can make a big difference in how you feel. Walking is probably the easiest; you can get into the habit of going for a daily walk with your baby. And a bonus is that you’re getting fresh air at the same time. Stretching is also a great idea; especially if your back or muscles are sore from breastfeeding or holding your baby in one position for a long time.
Your newborn's sleep schedule will probably be pretty erratic at first; it's common for newborns to sleep more during the day and less at night (lucky you!). If your baby is doing this, you may feel the urge to try to get things done around the house while they sleep. While you may be more productive, this approach will likely backfire on you, when later on you're feeling exhausted and your baby is wide awake. So make sure to take some time while your baby sleeps to get rest too.
Being home with a new baby can be incredibly lonely. This is why it's important to have a good support system of other moms who are in the same boat as you to share advice and vent about your daily challenges.
If you don't know many other new moms, a great place to start is a mom and baby group or class. There are countless options, including exercise and yoga classes. Do a quick Google search and you will likely find a variety of groups in your area.
Once you're a new mom, it's easy to sometimes neglect your partner. Especially at first, all your focus will likely be on your baby. Try to find a bit of time every day, maybe when the baby's sleeping, to have a few moments to just be together. It could even be ten minutes while you have a cup of tea together and share stories about each other's day. This will help the two of you reconnect and feel like you're in this together, not living totally separate lives.
You may be a great mom, but just remember, you can't do it all yourself. When it gets overwhelming and you desperately need a break (as you surely will), call on those in your life who are willing to help. Whether it be your parents, in-laws, friends or other family members, don't be afraid to ask for help caring for your baby. No one can raise a baby all alone, and the help that you receive will only make you stronger as a mother because you're taking care of your own needs, too.
Finally, remember that although it may be stressful and overwhelming, this phase with your newborn will quickly pass. Take the time to slow down and savor moments with your baby. For example, during feeding time, be present and study your newborn's beautiful face, and breathe in that sweet new baby smell. Take a deep breath, relax, and just enjoy the feeling of being together.