July is Self-Care Month, and I can think of no better group deserving of self-care than new parents. In the case of this blog, I’m going to speak to new moms specifically, because that is where my personal experience comes from. This is by no means an exhaustive list - and what worked for me may not work for you. But one thing I know all new parents have in common is sleep deprivation and because of that, you probably find yourself thinking “what do I even like? How DO I take care of myself?!”
So without further ado…
5 Self Care Tips for New Moms
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
I know. I was so sick of hearing this one, too. After all, that was when I could get stuff done around the house! However, this is how your body heals, specifically those of you still in the Fourth Trimester. Heck, I’ll admit it - on weekends, my husband and I have been known to nap when our daughter does and she’s 2.5!
2. Join a group.
This one is difficult for me - I’m a shy introvert by nature. But it was much better for my mental health to ask another mom in person about “that weird thing my baby was doing” as opposed to falling down a Google rabbit hole. I mean, we know we shouldn’t, but that search bar is just so tempting…
The Restoration Space is a great place to connect with moms from all seasons of life. Between Book Club, Full Breath Adventures, Community Acupuncture, and different exercise classes (even for the newly postpartum!), you can definitely find a community for yourself here.
3. Leave the house.
I’ll tell you what - this one is tough when your baby is born around Thanksgiving. The early sunsets and general coziness of a house in winter made me personally want to hibernate until spring (*also see above about shy introvert*).
In order to motivate myself to get out every day, I took a Joey Tribbiani approach to errands. Remember that episode of Friends when Ross gets laid off? During his first day of unemployment he tells Joey that he’s been to the bank, grocery store, post office, and dry cleaners. Joey replies saying he’s “just described a weeks worth of activities. You’ve got to spread it out!”
The lesson? Pick one place to go today. Target was usually my go-to on cold or rainy days. For the sunny days, simply go for a walk around your neighborhood or a local park. You’ll probably run into some other moms doing the same thing, plus sunshine can improve your mood AND walking is a great form of postpartum exercise. See #5 for more.
4. Take a shower everyday.
This advice was passed down to me from a mom friend and it was such a game changer that have passed it to every new mom friend since! A shower just made me feel human - a brief moment to not be covered in some form of bodily fluid (mine OR the tiny human’s). It also made it easier to implement #3. I could no longer use “spit up encrusted hair” as a reason to not go in public.
You can “extend” this advice as far as you’d like. For me, I liked putting on a little make up, too, if I knew I was going somewhere. For you, having a shower may inspire you to blow dry your hair or maybe put on the “good” leggings and cute nursing top from Aunt Janice. Because who wants to put on the milk-soaked T-shirt they’ve been wearing for the past 3 days after a gloriously cleansing shower?
Now many lists similar to this would instead say “Exercise.” I think there’s too much pressure around that word, especially living in a society that screams at you to “Get your pre-baby body back!” and “Shred off that baby weight!”
I’d just like to restore some function and figure out how to move my body after 9 months of an anteriorly tilted pelvis and flared ribs thankyouverymuch.
As I mentioned in #3, walking is actually one of the best forms of postpartum movement. It’s a gentle way to start restoring core function. Walking with good form conditions your midsection with each step, as your core is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis, among other things. Walking also helps restore pelvic “bounce,” the natural movement associated with the pelvic floor. With a more stable core and supple pelvic floor, you may notice aches and pains start to disappear, too!
The key to get the most out of walking is making sure you have proper form. I know it’s silly to think that you may be “walking wrong” but pregnancy introduces some weird shifts and movement compensations into our body that don’t “bounce back” on their own. Many of the practitioners at The Restoration Space are trained in gait analysis. PT Megan Eyvazzadeh in particular loves running mechanics.
Go see a pelvic floor PT. Period. End of statement. (I know a good one - The Restoration Space’s own Julie Spencer)
There you have it: 5 (+1!) ways a new mom can insert some self care into her life. Because when your needs are attended to, you can more fully attend to the needs of your family. Self care for the win!