Self-care has become something of a buzzword as of late. Everywhere you look there are articles and magazine covers proclaiming the need for adequate self-care.
Yet self-care advice can border on the absurd. What new mom has time for spas, trips to the city, girls-nights out, and pampering manicures?
These sometimes costly and time intensive examples of self-care are awesome now and then, but not always possible for a brand new, constantly nursing, mother. In fact, self-care like that can actually become one more overwhelming task on a seemingly never finished checklist.
Here are some tips for realistic and simple self-care for new moms.
Taking care of yourself and pampering yourself doesn’t have to be complicated, costly, or intimidating.
Take a shower
Many a new mom laments the loss of a shower when babies are new. While it is important that we sacrifice some of our time and energy for our young babies, it isn’t necessary that we stop doing all things that are important to us and our sanity, particularly if these things are part of normal hygiene.
Babies sleep every now and again. You don’t have to dive into the dishes or get caught up on social media in these short down times. If showering helps you feel like a new person, then do that. (Here are 10 ways to gently help your baby sleep.)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, partner, friend, or parents either. Most people are happy to hold a baby for a few moments! If you don’t have a strong support team present around you or that just doesn’t work, put the baby in a safe place like swing or bouncer so you can take the coveted shower. They will be safe and you will feel renewed and better able to tackle your day.
Use Fancy Soap
While you are taking that shower (or washing your hands or even your dishes), treat yourself to a soap you love. This tiny addition can help you feel better, especially if you are at a place in life where you really feel neglected.
A yummy smelling bar soap, something nice to wash your dishes with, even new shampoo or conditioner can be a welcome pampering moment in a crazy, sleep-deprived day.
Sometimes it really is the little things.
Take a Walk
Exercise clears the lungs and the mind and can literally lift your spirits. As a new mom, a walk with the baby in a stroller or wrapped in a baby carrier is a wonderful activity for the afternoon or for helping a cranky baby settle down for a nap.
Visit the Gym
If you have the means and a gym with daycare or even friends to trade childcare with, a visit to the gym can do wonders. Many people feel hugely renewed with regular, vigorous exercise. Just be sure you are cleared by your care provider for the activity you desire.
Here are some ideas for pregnancy exercise that work great postpartum.
Call a Friend
While you are out on that walk (or at any other time of day) call someone you love. A sibling, mom, a good friend in another city–reach out and call them. It is especially nice to be able to chat with someone who is in or has been in the same life situation you currently find yourself. Reassurance or even just commiseration are free but make life so much better.
Read a Novel
No, you don’t have to constantly read baby care, sleep, parenting, or self-improvement books just because you had a baby. Grab something you love that is mindless and dive in. It’s OK to read while you nurse too! You don’t have to constantly look longingly at the baby in order for them to turn out functional.
And yes, grocery store magazines about celebrity love lives are an incredible alternative.
Take a Hot Bath
A bath may not always be possible if you have a fussy baby or just find yourself stressing about dirty grout once you get in there, but it is a great way to de-stress.
Add some Epsom salts and baking soda and maybe a drop of your favorite essential oil, and you are practically at an expensive spa without stepping out of your house.
If baby needs some attention, place them in a bouncer or swing in the room with you or even in a car seat while you gently rock them.
You end up being clean and relaxed and it just feels like magic.
Have a Cup of Tea
A hot cup of herbal tea, a squeeze of lemon, a healthy dollop of honey.
Simple. Soothing. Sanity saving.
Turn on the kettle, pick your favorite flavor, let it steep and then enjoy a tiny little treat. Combine this with your trashy novel and bath and, voila–you are a new woman!
I know, what an exciting prospect.
Staying hydrated really does helps with feeling decent and is so necessary when you are a nursing mom. Fancy things up with a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon. If you have older kids, give them an assignment to bring you your water! You may have started the day as a tired, stressed mom, but you will end it feeling like an Egyptian princess!
Get Out of the House!
Sometimes a trip to Target while you aimlessly wander with a cart or a drive thru at your closest Starbucks is just what you need to feel like a grown-up once again. Admire the dollar bin, stroll through the workout clothing section, have that barista make you something with a little-whipped cream on top–embrace the pampering!
It happens to the best of us.
We need a moment. Maybe the baby is crying and just won’t stop. Maybe you haven’t had solid sleep in weeks. (Months counting that last trimester of pregnancy.) Whatever it is, we all have moments where a good scream or a good cry is just the ticket.
Let it out.
Nursing, healing, then nursing some more- it makes you hungry! Sure, basic everyday things that were easy to do before you had a baby now have to be planned out for them to happen. Life changes.
Make time to eat! Having healthy postpartum snacks around is incredibly helpful in this area so you can grab something quick and nourishing.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
Yes, this is the advice that everyone gets and nobody listens to.
It is hard to sleep during the day, but oh so helpful in maintaining your sanity. If you can’t sleep, take a few minutes to just be still and think, read, or do something that you enjoy. This is especially important for those introverts who crave alone time in order to recharge.
These ideas for simple self-care for new moms aren’t groundbreaking, but sometimes a new mom needs a reminder that she is still human and the little things in life can make a big difference.
Incorporating babywearing into your life can make getting things done easier while your baby sleeps or nurses. Going to the bathroom alone might be the thing you simply need to do to remain sane! Whatever it is you need, do it.
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. Soak in those brief moments with your baby, they truly pass quickly–but don’t be afraid to take moments just for yourself. Self-care is part of making motherhood joyful.
What are your favorite self-care practices? Share in the comments! We love hearing from you.
Thanks to all our instructors and doulas who shared their ideas!
Laurie, a doula and childbirth educator in Calgary, Alberta, Alexa, a doula in Roswell, GA, Ashleigh a childbirth educator in Shreveport, LA, LaQuitha in Mountain View, CA, Brooke a doula in Keller, TX, Angela a childbirth educator in Grand Junction, CO, Cameo a doula in Bowie, MD, Hailie a doula and childbirth educator in Abilene, TX, Caren a doula and childbirth educator in DFW, TX, Kristen a childbirth educator in Katy, TX, Laura a childbirth educator in Cheyenne, WY, and Maryellen a childbirth educator Lafayette, LA.