Welcome to motherhood (again)!
It’s a wild ride that never seems to end and while caring for this new little baby has brought me so much joy in a way that’s indescribable, it’s also a time where newfound struggles arise and can quickly make this parenting thing feel insurmountable. The Covid pandemic doesn’t make things any easier, too. It just requires us mamas to be a little more creative in the ways we take care of ourselves.
Having survived the first few years with Greyson, and within the first month of welcoming our Olivia, it has me reflecting on how important self-care is during this new chapter in life. Greyson taught me a lot and it’s only in hindsight do I recognize the areas where I needed to be better about taking care of myself.
So, today I’m sharing all about how we, as new moms, can find balance between prioritizing ourselves and be amazing mothers to our children without the #momguilt.
This is among the most important in my opinion, especially as a new mom, because your entire body is recovering from delivery and has already begun to care for this little new human (i.e. breastfeeding). I personally found that when I made the time to care for myself physically I had more energy, my overall recovery time was shorter, my mental health was clearer; and all of which allowed me to be more present for my baby and family.
Taking care of yourself physically is more than just thinking about a workout plan or remembering to drink enough water (although those are definitely worthwhile). It’s about being mindful of how you respect your body for the amazing thing it just did – like, create, carry and deliver a tiny human!
A few easy ways to care for yourself physically can be:
- going for daily walks with baby in the stroller (or finding mom walking groups to join)
- practicing meditation or yoga (or try a spin class!)
- make sleep and rest a priority (this is going to be hard at first, but sleep deprivation is a real thing and can make things feel so much worse…)
- making meals that are nourishing and nutritious or have friends and family pitch in to help make food, stock the fridge, etc.
- trying a new smoothie to ensure you’re getting all of your vitamins and veggies (this (and drinking water) will also aide in milk production, too!)
- sex! but of course after you get the go-ahead from your OB 😉
- invest in products such as skincare and makeup that are natural and good for you – when you feel good on the outside it translates to the inside. Beautycounter has been my go-to for years now – it’s clean, natural and has helped my skin transition since delivery (because, hormones).
Keeping tabs on your mental health is vital regardless of being a new mom. However, especially for new moms, it’s important to regularly check-in with yourself because bringing baby home can be overwhelming (plus hormones always take time to regulate after childbirth).
You can check-in with yourself emotionally by:
- blogging, journaling, or expressing yourself in some creative medium
- regular conversations with your spouse, partner, or loved ones about what you need or feel
- making time to get out of the house and away from baby (i.e. “me time”)
- giving yourself grace as you learn new rhythms as a family
- practicing mindfulness
- continuing date nights with your spouse or partner
- establishing healthy boundaries with friends or family
- get to know your emotional triggers and do your best to avoid situations or people who trigger you
- detoxing from social media or even friends/family who are too overwhelming
- don’t stress over not responding to emails or texts in a timely manner…time stops making sense those first few weeks with a newborn.
Side Note: The other nasty side to motherhood can be the curse of comparison. It’s going to happen at some point – whether it be friends and family offering well-meaning unsolicited advice or social media telling us what perfect motherhood or postpartum bodies should look like. Well, it’s never perfect…and those mom influencers you follow on Instagram don’t have their shit together either. So, we’re all in good company!
Finding yourself as a new mom in the era of Covid has its fair shake of challenges. Practically every health precaution that we’re told (or mandated) to follow makes it really difficult to socially care for ourselves in the same ways we’re used to. So, let’s get creative meanwhile keeping each other safe.
Social self-care that’s Covid-friendly:
- call, FaceTime, or zoom with loved ones for casual conversation or to check-in
- socially distance while meeting girlfriends for coffee/drinks (preferably outdoors)
- socially detox from things/people while you adjust to your new life/routines
- find local mom groups or gatherings where you can relate with other women experiencing the same things you are
Side Note: be prepared that your child-free friends may struggle with your new routines as a mom. I personally found this to be true because we were the first in our friend group to have a baby. Being a mom changes your perspectives and priorities, so don’t be surprised if you don’t hang out or talk as much with your friends like you did pre-baby. It’s all natural and everyone adjusting to new norms. Have grace with yourself and them…
This refers to personal growth, engaging in new things, and always ready to learn something new. It doesn’t mean to enroll in classes at your local community college (although, if that’s what you’re interested in then by all means go for it!), but rather be on the pursuit of knowledge and self-reflection. Becoming a mom changes you in all the best ways, so it’s no wonder how important it is to re-introduce yourself to you.
When I stayed home with Greyson the first year I found myself struggling with this – large in part because I was slowly doing more for him than I was for myself. However, taking time to look inwards and focus on personal goals really helped me regain my sense of self.
Ways to care for yourself intellectually are:
- simplify your schedule
- challenge your mind with a puzzle or activity
- try something new (i.e. a new recipe, workout, language app etc.)
- read (or finish) that book you’ve been meaning to
- no time to read? listen to a new podcast or audiobook during the day
- watch a documentary on something that interests you
- have a deep conversation with a friend or loved one
Know when to seek professional help
I care so much for my fellow mamas and I recognize that there are times when burning a scented candle, trying yoga, or going for coffee with a girlfriend doesn’t cut it. Being a new mom is one of the most challenging and overwhelming times in a woman’s life and sometimes this can lead to having a simple bout of baby blues or something more serious like postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum rage (yeah, it’s a thing…).
If you suspect that you’re suffering from PPD, I couldn’t encourage you more to speak up and reach out to a mental health professional. There’s no shame in it and is a completely NORMAL side effect of having a baby – especially for first-time moms.
Enjoy the journey…
Having a baby is hard work and is something that will continue to take and take from every fiber of our being (or at least feel that way). But, having grace with yourself in the process can make such a difference. I’m putting into practice many of the things I’ve listed above now that our sweet girl has arrived. Being a parent to two can feel overwhelming at times, but I try to take moments to check-in with myself and prioritize what’s important…usually the nap wins every time.
If you’re a new mom or about to be one, I encourage you to think about the ways in which you can care for yourself physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Because the whole family wins when you do.