A woman’s transition to motherhood, and all the psychological and physical change that comes with it is absolutely mammoth. After finally meeting your baby for the first time, you are elated, yet exhausted. But once the novelty of the gorgeous new being in your life, the nighttime feeds, endless nappy changes and your new mum status wear off, then reality catches up with you. It is exactly at this point that self-care for new mums becomes all important.
Once the whirlwind of new motherhood you have been swept away in subsides, what then? I remember feeling lost. I had shut away the old me in a box and gave everything to my daughter. She was my entire world. I sacrificed everything for her as a new mum – sleep, my own sense of identity, nourishment, the relationship with my partner, my health. But you know what they say….you can’t keep on giving from an empty cup.
It didn’t take me long to work out that I needed to start looking after myself in new motherhood or else I would be in the throws of dreaded new mum burnout. With that said, today I wanted to share some tips for self-care for new mums to bolster you on the physical and mental rollercoaster that becoming a new mum is.
Self-care for new mums
Give yourself permission
…to feel whatever you are feeling. Maybe you are not enjoying every minute as everyone always seems to say you should. Perhaps being a new mum is not coming to you naturally. You might be frustrated with how feeding is going. Or feeling detached and resentful towards your partner. Or still trying to get over a traumatic birth. My first piece of advice on self-care for new mums is to give yourself permission to pause and feel whatever it is you are feeling in this monumental transition.
Try to make up for lost sleep
I know this one is so hard, and people might often laugh at the idea that you should sleep when baby sleeps, but even if you can get your head down for a quick 20-minute power nap, it will make the world of difference.
Carve out time for yourself
This one can be so hard as a new mum, but if it means handing the baby over to your partner at certain times of the day, or just sitting somewhere by yourself like on the toilet by yourself for 5 minutes to collect your thoughts and take some deep breaths then it’s better than nothing.
Try to resist the overwhelming urge to do everything yourself (yup, it’s strong – I’ve been there!), and instead try to delegate baby and other home tasks to your partner. Looking after a new baby is a huge job and rather than seeing accepting and asking for help as a weakness, look at it instead as a strength.
Why not invest in some mom care products as a little incentive to take out some time for yourself? These could be as simple as comforting balms and butters which you can use to ease away any residual aches, pains and soreness from childbirth or breastfeeding, for example.
Don’t let the negative thoughts win
It can be so easy to focus on all the things you might not be getting right, or doing well but try to replace those thoughts with positive ones as soon as they pop up. You could even write a “pat on the back” list…even if it’s just for making it through another day! Or simply think to yourself “I am a good mum” to not let your thoughts spiral down into negativity.
Try to find balance again
Your life has been turned upside down, your hormones are all over the shop, you feel totally out of whack and your house is a mess. As you slowly adjust to your new norm, it’s important you seek out ways to find balance again. Whether it’s making a point to talk to someone every day so you don’t feel lonely and isolated, finding some movement throughout the day, or taking a moment for yourself there are lots of small and achievable things you can do to help your find balance. Having said finding balance again takes time, and every day will look and feel different.
To help you through this period of mental and physical adjustment, try a postnatal healing tea like Blissful Blend from BlissBaby. Hand-mixed by Naturopath using 100% organic herbs selected especially to help you to replenish your energy stores & regain your vitality alongside herbs that support well-balanced breastmilk supply. The tea also comes with a meditation to help mums relax and find inner peace, with an audio version of a guided meditation available to help mums feel relaxed and grounded amidst the changes of new motherhood.
Get out every day
Sometimes things can feel magnified within our own walls. Try to get out every day – even better if it’s to somewhere with the calming effect of greenery. Use the baby’s nap as an excuse to get out for a walk, clear your head and get some perspective. It really does help to mitigate that pressure cooker effect of new motherhood.p
Be kind to yourself
Imagine yourself as your best friend. What would she say to you? She would tell you to stop being so hard on yourself. To look at all the things you’ve achieved since becoming a mother – including giving birth to your baby! She would tell you it’s okay not to be okay, that the supermum myth of all those mums whose babies sleep through the night and are oozing with confidence after their seemingly instant baby weight loss is all just a big lie.
It’s ok to miss your sleep, the you before, your social life, your independence, your work, your pre-pregnancy body, the way your relationship used to be when it was just the two of you, your sense of self.
It’s ok to feel emotional, sensitive, angry, agitated, jealous, lonely, trapped, overwhelmed. It’s ok to be and feel all of those things. And it’s ok to open up and be real about how new motherhood can be a frightening new world at times.
If you are a new mum, please know that you are doing and have done something amazing. Even though it may not feel like a lot of the time as you are caught up in the drudgery of it all and up to your neck in soiled nappies. Self-compassion is the greatest gift you can give yourself right now, so be sure to step firmly away from the harsh self-criticism and judgment that tries so hard to get a stranglehold on each and every one of us.