During the first few weeks and months postpartum you have probably pushed self-care to the back of your mind. After all, you have baby to take care of, the house to try to stay on top of, possible other children to tend to, laundry to do, the list goes on and on. With all the busyness it can be hard to find time to do things that feed your soul, and energize you, but the importance of self-care during the first few weeks and months postpartum cannot be stressed enough.
Why is Self-Care Important After You Have Your Baby
A few of the risk factors for postpartum mood disorders include:
*lack of sleep
*being overwhelmed by stress
*a poor diet
*a family or personal history of depression and anxiety
There are a few others that we won’t cover today, but as you can see, the first three can be helped by making sure to prioritize self-care.
How to Prioritize Self-Care Postpartum
The best thing that you can do as an expecting momma is to make sure that you and your partner sit down to go over the expectations that you have for each other. During this time remind your partner that you will need to schedule time for self-care. This may mean that you need to think about hiring a housekeeper to come once a week, asking friends and family to bring meals, hiring a postpartum doula for support during the first weeks and months postpartum, etc. American cultures says that these things are okay during the first few weeks after you bring baby home, but you can also extend them into the first few months if needed, especially if you have multiples to care for.
Lower Your Stress Levels
During the first weeks, try to make sure that you are doing something for yourself every day, it could be taking a shower, reading a few chapters of a new book, journaling, having a few minutes to sit and drink hot coffee or tea, etc. Find something that you can do that will make you feel good and remind yourself that you aren’t a zombie.
During the first few months try to schedule in a couple of “mom days/dates”. Spend a couple of hours on yourself, here are some ideas for you:
*get your hair done
*drop the baby off at the babysitter’s house and go home and sleep
*get a pedicure/manicure
*go to the mall and find a new outfit, just because
*find a bookstore/coffee shop and spend a few hours browsing and reading
Get Some Sleep
Every time new moms hear people tell them to sleep when the baby sleep, we laugh a little. Because we don’t want to sleep then, we think about all the things that we could do when baby is sleeping, and we ignore the fact that our body is running on much less sleep than it is used to, and much less than we need for optimal immune system support.
When you are able to sleep, please take those opportunities! When people come over, hand them the baby, and go take a nap. Have your partner take the first night shift and go to bed early. You can nurse baby and then if they aren’t ready to sleep, give them to your husband, and head to bed. Take the baby to grandma’s house and take a nap while grandma and grandpa play with baby.
Getting in sleep is something that you will need to plan for! But remember that lack of sleep is one of the main causes of postpartum depression.
Eat for Your Brain
Healthy fats are brain and hormone food. Make sure that you are including plenty of healthy fats in your diet as a new mother. If you didn’t really take the time to clean up your diet while pregnant, now is the perfect time to start! You can model healthy eating for your children right now!
Remember, one of the risk factors of postpartum depression is poor diet, so you will also want to make sure that you are feeding your body correctly so that you have the nutrition you need to heal and recover from birth as well as lowering your risk for postpartum mood disorders. Check out How Nutrition Helps You to Recover and Thrive Postpartum for more tips.
Reduce Your Risk for Postpartum Mood Disorders
Make sure that you prioritize rest and self-care during the first weeks of your postpartum journey. If you start out creating a habit of rest and self-care, it will be easier to continue with that, than to start a new habit later.
By taking time for self-care you will be less stressed, can have lower blood pressure than those who aren’t taking time for this important aspect, you may feel more energy for mothering, and you reduce your risk for postpartum mood disorders. You can’t give others the care that they need, if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Exercise is also a good way to practice self-care, you can find more about that here.
By creating a Postpartum Support Team, you will have the tools needed to take care of yourself as you take care of your family.
Check out this great list of 50 Easy Self-Care Ideas that Every Mom Can Do.
You may also like this post on 6 essential things that you must do to thrive during the first year postpartum.
The first few weeks & months everyone is interested about the bab, but don’t let yourself and your needs get lost in all. Remember the best thing for your baby is a mother who is happy, healthy, and supported. Make sure you are getting everything you need – food, fluids, and adequate rest. Sometimes, that means asking for help outside of your immediate family you postpartum team. One way to make sure you’re connecting with yourself during the postpartum period is to prioritize doing one “normal” thing each day. Try taking a walk, having a relaxing shower, or seeing a friend.
Rebekah Thompson writes at Surviving Toddlerhood. She has been married for nine years and is momma to four little boys ages eight, five, three, and eight months. She is the author of The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally On Your Postpartum Journey and a certified birth doula through DONA International. She enjoys good coffee and tea, dark chocolate, running and learning as much as possible about healthy pregnancy/postpartum and fitness. You can check out her blog at www.survivingtoddlerhood.com