I’m only 3 months into motherhood, so I write this post as a novice and as a fellow new mother who is trying to figure this thing out as she goes…
You all know I’m passionate about self care, that’s why I love my career. And although I struggle as much as the next woman to find time for herself, I have a strong conviction to practice what I preach.
I know myself well enough to know that if I neglect self-care, everything suffers. My health, my mood, my marriage…everything.
I was nervous that I would end up with the baby blues after giving birth to my first child. It’s super common. In fact most moms feel the blues in some way or another during the first few weeks.
But I was scared that the blues may get the best of me for 3 reasons:
1. I’m a do-er. I like to be out, I like to be active, I like to busy.
2. I’m prone to anxiety. Did you know postpartum depression also shows up as anxiety? It’s often overlooked and I’m so thankful for one of my honest clients who brought this to light by sharing her experience with me.
3. Since we’re still relatively new in town I feared that I may be sad that all of our old friends weren’t around during this momentous time in our life.
So I sought out advice from friends and tried to set myself up in the best way possible to enjoy the first few months of motherhood. So that I could enjoy time with my little one and avoid feeling like a stressed out, anxious new mom.
I’m happy to say it has paid off.
Keep in mind, one of the greatest gifts of having a newborn is how life slows down. Give yourself permission to lounge around with your baby as much as you’d like. Soak up the precious hours and days with your new bundle and let yourself rest and recover from labor & delivery.
Don’t rush the return to “normal life.” It will come soon enough.
The following tips come into play when you feel ready to resume “get back in the game” so to speak:
Note: the baby blues I’m referring to are different from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that occurs due to the wild emotions that comes along with pregnancy and childbirth. It’s not something you can fix in 5 easy steps. If you’re struggling be sure to seek help. You’re not alone. You can read about the symptoms of postpartum depression here.
10 Self Care Tips For New Moms
1. Schedule your sleep
A lot of people say to sleep when the baby sleeps, which is great advice for some people. But if you’re a “do-er” like me it’s hard to take leisurely cat naps throughout the day.
Instead, I chose to go to bed with my baby around 8:00 pm every night and also went back to sleep with her after the 7:30/8:00am feeding. I slept until nearly 10:00 am every morning for the first few weeks. This SAVED me. I can honestly say I rarely felt sleep deprived. Yes I was waking up every 2-3 hours during the night but I was getting a total of about 8 hours which kept me sane and rational throughout the day.
The point being: be intentional and schedule your sleep in a way that works for you. If you don’t, you may never sleep and everything will feel 10x harder.
2. Join a group
Find other moms in your area through Meet Up, MOPS or local baby stores. Community lightens the load of motherhood and it helps to connect with other moms who are going through the same changes and season of life.
3. Buy postpartum clothes
Everyone talks about maternity clothes, no one talks about postpartum clothes.
A week before Blake was born I went out and purchased a handful of big, flowy dresses that I would be able to wear postpartum. I was SO over my maternity clothes but also knew that I’d be months away from fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes.
I’m so glad I did this. I think the postpartum body is much harder to dress than the pregnant body. This helped me (and is still helping me) during those awkward weeks with an ever-changing, oddly shaped body. If you’re having a baby in the winter consider super stretchy leggings and long, cozy sweaters. 🙂
4. Get out
A friend of mine who had the baby blues with her first child told me to force myself to get out. Not in the first few days or even weeks, but in the first few months. She told me it would seem hard and be tempting to not go places with friends because it’s easier to just stay home but to force myself out at times.
This may seem counterintuitive to self-care but I think it’s really great advice. Don’t pressure yourself to be a social butterfly but getting out and spending time with friends and family is good for the soul and will help you feel like yourself again.
This one has been big for me, even if it’s just a trip through the drive through Starbucks 🙂
5. Schedule a hair appointment
Seriously, do it right away. Schedule it for a month or two after the baby is born…as soon as you’re able to leave her for a few hours. I know it may be hard to time the feedings and get out the door. Choosing a salon close to home will help. You deserve a little pampering. It will be good for you, good for your marriage and good for your baby.
6. Let people bring you food
Have a friend set up meal delivery calendar with Sign Up Genius. I had a friend insist on doing this for me even though I tried to resist (remember we’re new here so this was a new friend who has turned out to be a lifesaver for me over the past few months). If people want to come visit, tell them they’re more than welcome to as long as they feed you. 🙂
Not right away, but eventually. After you receive the go-ahead from your doctor find ways to incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Don’t worry about exercising to get your body back (9 months on, 9 months off…quite possibly more) but exercise for your mood. The benefits are real and proven. Get out for walks, do yoga in your living room, join a mommy & me class, take an hour for yourself to hit the gym…whatever you like to do, take the time to do it.
(Join The Balanced Life Sisterhood to get new at-home workouts every month and a become a part of a super supportive, encouraging community of women.)
8. Treat yourself
Find little ways to treat yourself throughout the week. For me, this is Starbucks 🙂 For you it may be something else. But after a long day of nursing, burping, changing and comforting your little one indoors you’ll benefit from finding little ways to treat yourself. I look forward to my afternoon walk or drive through Starbucks with a sleeping baby in the back seat.
9. Get ready for the day
Again, not in the first few days, but in the first few weeks. During your baby’s first nap, shower, blow dry your hair, get dressed, and put on make-up….even if you’re not going to see anyone all day! I have days where I may not see anyone I know until my husband comes home from work. It would be so easy to stay sloppy all day, but it’s not good for my mood or my confidence. Getting ready for the day has really helped me to avoid the blues.
10. Establish a routine
I know some people love schedules and some don’t, but in my humble opinion a routine or a schedule is super helpful in maintaining sanity as a new mom. If I had to be at Blake’s beck and call more than I already am I think would be having a much harder time with this motherhood thing.
Find a routine that works for you and your family and stick with it. Everyone will benefit and eventually you will be able to take time for yourself because you’ll know your baby’s schedule.
We’re all in this together and I’d love to hear your thoughts since every woman is different.
What tips would add to this list?
PS – If you’re a new mom and you’re looking to ease back into a Pilates routine from home be sure to CLICK HERE to receive a free 20-minute workout. It’s the perfect length for nap time and tummy time and will help to get those abs back in shape. 🙂