Are you in the new moms’ crowd? It can be a lot to handle, whether it’s your first or fifth time having a newborn! Babies mean a switch-up from the norm: the days of catching up on sleep, taking a week’s vacation, binge-watching your favorite tv show without interruptions, and deep cleaning the house are gone. It’s not going to be like this forever, but even a few weeks can be hard to handle. New parents sometimes struggle to care for themselves when they’ve got a new human to take care of. However, as the adage goes, you can’t give 100% if you’re not giving yourself 100%.
You might not be able to take a full spa day to recoup anymore. However, there are some effortless ways to recoup when your battery runs low.
Cooping up in the house isn’t good for your mental health, physical health, or the well-being of your newest family member! When you feel the blues coming on — or if you’re struggling with a little one who won’t go to bed at night — take them for a walk.
Studies done by Nordic researchers (where outdoor stroller sleeping is the norm) show that babies who spend time outside often take longer naps and sleep longer in the evening, allowing their parents to get more rest. Additionally, walks help with adult mental health, meaning better quality sleep and improved mood for tired parents.
Another thing many new parents struggle with is maintaining a sense of self when their world now revolves around their newborn. It can impact self-esteem, mental well-being, and your sense of purpose when new parents don’t take time to do the things they loved before junior came around.
Having a simple hobby can not only improve the mental health of new parents, but it can teach babies about fine motor skills, culture, and so much more. Knitting, crocheting, writing, and baking are all fairly easy-going hobbies that almost anyone can do. But you can also still do more active hobbies — like running, hiking, and gardening — with a baby in tow.
New moms get cravings just like the best of us. It’s good to acknowledge and honor food cravings, but in the sleepless nights and busy schedules of new parenthood, eating foods that give us nutrition and feed our souls is vital empowerment.
Those memes you see when you’re scrolling through Instagram that say, “have you had water today?” Those apply to you, too, new moms. Drinking water helps with fatigue, your natural sleep patterns, joint function, mental clarity, and your overall immune health. Making sure you’re at your best physical health helps you and your baby!
You might be thinking, duh. Of course I’m going to take time to breathe.
But I mean it. As you might in a yoga class or meditation, taking time to breathe deeply is super essential for your health. Deep breathing can alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression (including postpartum depression), help you sleep better, improve your focus, and manage your mood. Combine that with eating nutritious foods and getting enough water, and you’re on the road to a healthy mind and body. There’s no better foundational self-care than that!
Date nights aren’t going to look quite the same as they did pre-kids. That’s just the facts of life! But that doesn’t mean romance is dead. Having a baby can strengthen the bond between you and your partner. If you’re a single mom and find having a newborn is isolating, time with a best friend can also be outstanding self-care.
If you find you’re spending less time with your partner or friends and want to remedy that, re-think what quality time means to you. You don’t have to go out on a fancy date or see a movie together. You might opt to do the NY Times crossword together in the morning while you nurse. Or, you can put on your favorite music and have a dance session while trying to put the baby to bed. Even more simply, plan out one meal per day that you can sit down and have a deep conversation without the distraction of a television or Zoom meeting. You’ll find this will positively impact how you interact with yourself, others, and your partner.
How many days was it last? Two? Seven? I get it, trust me. Getting a shower can be a second job when you have a newborn. But a bath is a simple luxury that many new moms don’t think about, and they can make a difference in physical comfort and hygiene alike!
Newborns shouldn’t get in the bath with you, but they can hang out in their car seat on the floor next to the bath while you take some time for yourself. Although you can’t always plan your showers or baths for naptime, naptime is also an excellent time to get in some relaxation and cleanliness around your baby’s schedule. Finally, if your partner is home, take turns taking baths and watching the baby. If possible, take half an hour to lay in a bath, relax, drink a cup of coffee, and maybe catch up on some of the podcasts you’ve missed.
The best form of self-care for new moms — and one I advise every new mom to do — is to ask for help every once and a while. No parent is a super-mom. We all have our limits, and when you build a village (friends who can babysit every once and a while, parents who will take the baby for a weekend, siblings who agree to play with the baby while you take some you time), it helps you be the best parent to your newborn and best friend to yourself.
One bonus self-care treat I can suggest is scheduling a newborn photoshoot! Taking newborn pictures not only leaves you with precious memories, but it also gives you some time to sit back and breathe while a trained newborn photographer (me!) captures your baby’s first few weeks earthside. Click here to get started.