Self care for new moms is something that is really hard to navigate through, especially currently when “Self Care” is so. dang. trendy.
So where do you start? What does “Self Care for a New Mom” really look like when you are getting zero sleep, you are trying to get to know a new human, you are still quite literally healing from a big change to your physical body and trying to deal with all the emotions and responsibility of it all?
Let me first tell you what it isn’t.
While I LOVE to teach seasoned mamas about how to get themselves ready, and wear nicer clothes and do their makeup most days - that message isn’t really meant for you.
As a postpartum mama, you aren’t supposed to be up before the kids wake up, with a full blown continental breakfast down your throat and your bible read and your hot coffee drank. That is unrealistic. You aren’t mean to have a spotless home, or the laundry all done and perfectly put away. You aren’t meant to be well dressed and ready by 7am so you can “take on your day”.
American women feel this ridiculous amount of pressure to “bounce right back” and it is so frustrating. We are the only developed country in the world that doesn’t offer moms paid parental leave. Working women are expected to work as if they have no children and parent as if they have no job.
In some countries (outside of the US) it is tradition that women literally stay in bed with their newborn for 21-40 days. They are waited on, someone else cooks for them, they don’t clean or do any housework. They literally stay in bed, eat, sleep, rest and bond with their baby.
So why do moms feel so much dang pressure to do alllll the things freshly after giving birth? And what ARE you supposed to do?
Here is how you do Self Care as a New Mom…
You let go of the idea of perfection and lean into your season. Set your expectations to a level of reality. You will need adult diapers and diapers for your boobs. You will be leaking all over the place, you will have a soft and smushy tummy, you will be starving and so thirsty because your milk comes in and you will be trying to figure out how the hell to keep another human alive. But, you will also be re-living that magical moment when your precious little human got placed on your chest, how you can love someone so intensely after just meeting him or her, and how freaking blessed you are to be able to experience this thing called birth and creating another human. You will only birth that baby ONCE. You will never get to experience that again. And while there may be some pain involved and some work to get that baby out but that moment when you meet him/her for the first time is pure magic. Treat it that way.
You freaking rest. Seriously. We need to have enough respect to honor our bodies and the process it just went through. We might feel better without having that basketball for a tummy, but our insides need time to heal! We have to give it time before we jump back into life at full pace. Don’t stress about losing the weight or “getting your body back”. You will have time for that later. Allow your body to absorb and acknowledge all the massive changes that are happening mentally, physically, emotionally and hormonally.
Also, you need to ask for help. Our hubbys would love some cuddle time. So let them have it. Nurse that baby on demand, cuddle that baby, love on that baby yourself but once your baby is content and fed, hand him/her over and take a snooze. Lay on the couch and binge on netflix while you cuddle that baby.
You let people bring you food. You know those people who reach out and say “Congrats! Let me know if there is anything you need!” and we usually politely respond and say “Thanks, I will!” But then we never actually do. Don’t do that. When someone asks if they can help, you say “YES, I would love a starbucks and a breakfast sandwich!” or “Actually, I haven’t planned many dinners this week. That would be so helpful if you could drop one by!”
Gulp that water down and enjoy that food. Now is not the time to shame your body. Now is the time to nourish it, to feed it, to not restrict your food intake, to suck the water down and to literally savor what you are putting in your mouth. This doesn’t mean scarf down all crap food. But this is a totally acceptable time to eat rich, delicious meals that taste really good and that fill you up. And to have some dang ice cream after your meal!
You go makeup free + stay in your jammies. It took me 4 babies to listen to this one. After my first 3 births, I was up and working and cleaning and shopping within a week. I was so dumb. My body wasn’t ready, I gave myself mastitis because I overdid it and I ended up crashing soon after. Unless doing your makeup actually makes you feel human again - just skip it for a few weeks. I finally got it when I had baby #4. I ended up relaxing, resting and recharging for literally almost 2 months. It was beautiful. It was much needed. Making babies and birthing them and then feeding them is hard work. Pick your battles. You will have time for those lashes and cute outfits when you aren’t leaking everywhere.
And here are a couple reminders from a mama x 4.
Your body and the baby’s body will go through so. many. changes. Give it grace.
Your baby probably won’t sleep right away. They aren’t broken. Trust that they know what they need. A liquid diet is hard to keep someone full for 8-10 hours.
They are growing and changing at a rapid pace, so a set schedule might not work. Be flexible.
Trust your instincts. You usually know what is best for your baby if you remove the noise and confusion that you feel by comparing yourself to those around you. I repeat. Trust your instincts.
What are some ways you lean into your season and enjoy the postpartum time with a new baby?