Self-care in the midst of baby-care
I am probably the worse for self-care among all the other priorities of a young family and home-based business. Seriously, I think it’s been 12 months since I’ve found the time for a hair appointment! So clearly I’m not an expert on this topic so I’ve called in the gorgeous Kristy Rodriguez, author of Pure Nurture: A Holistic Guide to A Healthy Baby to talk us through the top tips for self-care in the midst of baby-care. Time for me to take a leaf out of her new book and book that appointment... and maybe a massage to go with it! Over to you Kristy…
The days, weeks and months following the birth of your baby can be some of the most joyful, stressful, loving and overwhelming. The array of thoughts and emotions that fill this unique and special time can feel like a roller coaster ride. Amidst the new responsibilities and array of emotions, how can a new mum take care of herself with all of the time and responsibilities required for taking care of a brand new baby? Practicing self-care is one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy while you transition into this new role and relationship. Caring for your baby includes carrying for you.
Before determining how to practice self-care in the midst of baby-care, the first thing to figure out is what self-care means to you. Self-care looks different for everyone. One mum might love a hot bath with essential oils and Epsom salt. For another, what fills her up and helps her come back into a state of ease is meeting a friend for coffee or tea at the local café. Self-care can take five minutes or a couple hours. It really is up to you. It really is anything that you can do daily or weekly that either relaxes you, calms you, lifts your spirits, energizes you, or supports you in any way. It is something that generally helps you to feel better- physically, mentally and/or emotionally.
Below is a list of 4 self-care tips that will support you during the postpartum period. Give them a try and see which ones help you to reduce stress and increase feelings of ease.
- Ask for what you need. I teach prenatal yoga every week. At the end of our class we all rest in savasana (final relaxation). As the women set up for their time of rest and relaxation I offer eye pillows, bolsters, blankets etc. Anything to make that time more comfortable and enjoyable. I find that the women are hesitant to ask for what they need or want in order to support themselves in this posture. I joke with them and tell them that this is the perfect opportunity for them to ask for what they need before the baby arrives. You are not Superwoman (shocker, I know!) In the postpartum period you will need extra support. Breastfeeding, sleeping, preparing meals, eating, cleaning, shopping, etc. Please don’t expect people to be mind-readers and know exactly what you need (especially your partner.) Ask for support. Your loved ones will be happy to help you during this special time. If you can’t find support, there are many services out there. It will be an investment, but one that will be well worth it, even if it’s only one time or for a short period of time. If you can, set some of these things up before your baby arrives. Asking for what you need is you practicing essential self-care.
- Journal. Whether you like writing or not, keeping a small gratitude journal is an extremely beneficial practice. Each day, write a list (as long or short as you’d like) of all that you feel grateful for in that moment. Having an “attitude of gratitude” is extremely beneficial for you over all wellbeing, especial your mental and emotional health. You can write out all that you are grateful for in a narrative form or using bullet points. If you’re unable to write down in a journal, keep a growing list in your “notes” on your phone. You can also take a few moments each day and bring a few things to mind you feel grateful for. More and more research being done showing the positive effects of incorporating a gratitude practice into your life.
- Move your body. Everyday move your body. You don’t have to go to the gym, nor should you in the first six to eight weeks after giving birth. However, there are many benefits to moving your body, not only for physical well-being, but also for mental and emotional health. After you get the “ok” from your doctor or midwife, begin moving your body. As with anything, determine what feels best for you and your body when it comes to exercise. Postnatal yoga, walking (pushing a stroller), postnatal exercise videos, etc. Whatever feels best for you, be sure to move your body on a regular basis. This will help to increase your “feel good” hormones and reduces depression, anxiety and lethargy. One other idea for moving your body is to reconnect with your partner. You will both feel the pressures of being new parents. Give yourselves time to connect and slowly introduce sex back into your relationship.
- Snack throughout the day. After giving birth you may feel ravenous, especially if you are breastfeeding. I used to feel so hungry that I would have to keep snacks next to my bed so that I could eat in the middle of the night. Eating nutrient dense snacks throughout the day (and night, if needed) will help to keep your blood sugar levels even and that will help prevent mood swings. For some ideas, try nuts, seeds, trail mix, veggies and hummus, an apple with nut or seed butter and smoothies. Ideally your snacks will contain a combination of carbohydrates, fat and protein.
Once you determine which self-care practices support you the most, use them often. Schedule them into your calendar or write them down on a sticky note if you have to. Even if it’s only for five minutes, having a self-care practice for your entire life will help you maintain a state of ease. You will more quickly and easily let go of tension and constriction in your body. Knowing that life is an ever-changing plain (especially when you become a parent), having a cache of self-care habits will help you to ride the waves of life more confidently, allowing you to quickly find balance when the ups and downs occur. We cannot protect ourselves or our babies from every upsetting thing in life. However, you feeling your best and bringing yourself back into balance ultimately supports you in being the best mum you can be. Treat yourself (body and mind) and your baby with kind-heartedness, compassion, and unconditional love. You both deserve it.
Kristy Rodriguez is author of the newly published book Pure Nurture: A Holistic Guide to A Healthy Baby. Kristy is a certified holistic health coach and registered yoga instructor specialising in prenatal and postpartum wellness, support, and empowerment. With her cumulated years of experience in education and health, she brings extensive knowledge, personal experience, and deep compassion to her students. Connect with Kristy at www.purenurture.com and on Instagram.