Feed, change diapers, snuggle. This is a day in the life of mothers of newborns. This sounds simple, but it is usually done on no sleep, and with zero time for personal space. I am a big fan of my personal space, and though I love my kids and absolutely love the newborn stage, I made time for myself each day a priority from the beginning of my life as a mom. After both of my kids were born I made a point every evening to feed my baby, then hand them to my husband, shut the bathroom door, get in the bath, and read a magazine. This lasted for about 5-10 minutes each night before my baby would start crying for me, but that 5-10 minutes was enough to carry me through until the next evening. It allowed me time and space that was my own. It was peaceful, restful, rejuvenating.
It is essential to care for yourself after your baby is born when the demands come night and day, with or without sleep. Caring for a newborn, is to meet the needs of someone who is entirely dependent on you for their survival and emotional growth. This is not something to be taken lightly. As with any other role that requires so much of your emotional and mental investment, it is important to fill your own cup, so that you can pour out into those that you are nurturing. As in pregnancy, after the baby is born much of the focus tends to be on your adorable new family member. Few will remember to ask the mother how she is doing, what support she needs, or what can be done to care for her.
Though your community loves you and wants to care for your entire family during the postpartum season, many people simply don’t know how to care for the mother, and as mothers we are not told that is important to ask for help, and to let others know how they can support us.
Take some time before your baby is born to plan out what your postpartum self care will look like. Just like prenatal self care, the things that fill you up will be unique to you, so think about the things that bring you joy, and carve out some time for those on a regular basis. Talk to your partner, family, and friends in advance about how they can support you in nurturing yourself. That will possibly consist of them helping with your baby for a short stretch of time so that you can have the space to clear your mind. Many things can also be done with baby involved, or while baby is sleeping for a short stretch. Instead of using that time to do the laundry or dishes, ask for help with those things so that you can spend that time refreshing yourself. Here are a few ideas, but anything that brings you joy, and energizes you will work:
- taking a bath and reading a few pages in a magazine or book.
- postnatal yoga
- running or walking
- spending time outdoors (this is an easy one that can be done with your baby in a carrier or stroller. It is good for both of you!)
If you want to learn more about postnatal self care and what that looks like in real life we have a mini workshop coming up on December 5th! We hope to see you there!