Hey there, new mama. Congratulations on the birth of your little one! You’ve just been through a lot, and now you have a whole new level of challenges to deal with. And if you’re anything like I was as a brand new mom, you’re wondering why it isn’t easier right now. You may be sleep deprived, overextended, physically sore, and feeling a range of emotions. Yes, you love that new earthling to bits, but you’re also human and are dealing with brand new territory.
Hang in there—it will get easier. This is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and no matter how much you adore your little one, it’s bound to be an incredibly challenging time. So, take some comfort in knowing that you’re not crazy, you’re not alone, and that things will keep getting better (and easier). And in the meantime, here are seven ways to nurture yourself as a postpartum mama…
- Be extra gentle with yourself. This is not the time to push yourself or set strict goals. Sure, you might want to lose the baby weight or keep a clean house, but the most important thing right now is to extend as much kindness towards yourself as possible.
- Accept help. This is also not the time to try and do everything alone. Even (and especially) if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help, it’s important to do so now. Do you have friends who’ve offered to make food for you? Relatives who want to hold the baby while you care for yourself? Please don’t hesitate to take them up on it. We mamas are givers, and often one of our important lessons is to receive more. It’s OK to accept help. And remember, the more you allow others to give to you, the more you’ll have to give—to yourself and to others, including your baby.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet. More than ever, it’s important to eat a healthy, vitalizing diet right now. Nutrient-dense plant-based foods will help you physically recover from childbirth more quickly, as well as give you energy during this challenging (and often sleep-deprived) time.Focus on organic foods whenever possible, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, be sure to eat enough calories to maintain your energy—especially if you’re nursing, you’re burning a lot more calories than usual right now.
- Nurture your emotional health. It’s intense having a new baby, so please remember that whatever you’re feeling is OK. Don’t judge yourself, and try to shift to positive self-talk. Think about how you’d speak to a good friend, and extend that same kindness to yourself. Do whatever it takes to care for yourself at this time—meditate, write in your journal, take a baby-free walk and unwind, do some restorative yoga, watch a funny show, talk with a trusted friend or therapist, take a hot bath, or do positive affirmations. Time may be very tight right now, but take any opportunity to care for your emotional health. Your well-being is so important.
- Take naps. You’ve heard this one a million times, but it can be very helpful to rest when your baby rests. We often don’t acknowledge how tiring it is to have a new baby, feed that baby from our own bodies, and have our sleep disrupted throughout the night. It’s natural to feel more tired these days. If you prioritize your self-care and rest when you need to, you’ll be much happier and more productive later on. So, let the dishes sit for a little while and take time for YOU when your baby is sleeping. Things won’t always be this way, but now is the time to take extra care to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.
- Prioritize self-care. Again, your well-being is a priority, even if you might not feel like it these days. Whenever possible, prioritize yourself and rest, care for your inner wellbeing, do some gentle exercise, and anything else that makes you feel refreshed. It’s OK to slack off on housework right now, or temporarily neglect your kid-free friends. You’ll get back to them eventually. If you take care of yourself as a priority, everything else will fall into place.
- Talk to other new moms. This is important, so that you don’t get stir-crazy, and so that you don’t think you ARE crazy! Sometimes as new mothers, we get a bit isolated. It’s helpful to get out of the house and connect with other moms who have babies of a similar age. I still remember how much of a lifesaver this was when I had a new baby. It was so reassuring to hear that they were going through the same things I was, and I learned a lot from them. Plus, it’s nice to socialize with someone who does more than cry and burp.
We hope these seven tips will help you prioritize your well-being right now. And remember—you don’t have to be perfect. Even if you just start with ONE tip from this article, that’s great! Start with what you can realistically do, and build on it. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.