Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
Self-care and taking good care of you are so very important during postpartum. The early days, typically the first three months, can be very hard and may even feel very thankless. Here you are taking care of your new little one night and day:
- Feeding your baby
- Soothing your baby when they are crying
- Changing diapers all day and night
- Getting very little feedback or interaction from your newborn baby
Know that this will get easier as your baby gets older, and soon you will have a baby who smiles and laughs and plays and interacts with you. Soon you will have a baby who sleeps through the night, often making you feel like a brand, new person when this happens. It does get better. And at the same time, try not to wish away the days right in front of you when your baby is so little and precious.
Keep in mind that there are many different types of self-care that may be helpful to you during postpartum. First, you want to make sure your basic self-care needs are being met as much as possible, before moving into the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self-care ideas that we’ll be talking about later in this section.
Basic self-care needs
- Eating a healthy diet/eating regularly (as many moms forget to eat at times when they are caring for baby)
- Hydration (having water nearby at all times can help you remember to stay hydrated)
- Getting enough sleep (I know, easier said than done during postpartum! Do the best you can here.)
- Moving your body (this may be walking around the house holding your baby to yoga stretches to walking, once they are approved by your doctor or midwife @ six weeks postpartum)
- Social support (connecting with others is so important during postpartum, as postpartum can feel very isolating and lonely at times)
If some of these seems overwhelming right now, you may want start with making one small adjustment at a time. Then, once these basic self-care needs are met, you can work your way up and add in other types of self-care including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Some of the following ideas may be helpful to you now, or may be helpful at some point in the future (keep in mind that some of these ideas fit into more than one category).
Physical self-care ideas
- Make plans with family and friends
- Spend time with your family pet
- Restart your favorite hobbies
- Do things you find relaxing– take a bath, go for a massage, take a yoga class, etc.
- Get a physical check up with your doctor or midwife
- Do a body scan to hone in on how you’re feeling internally
- Tighten and relax your muscles to release tension
- Snuggle under a blanket
- Sit and enjoy your morning coffee or tea (something to warm you up from the inside out)
- Schedule some alone time, even if it is an extra, long shower or going to the grocery store
- Take breaks and practice the pause
- Schedule in transitions throughout your day (especially at bedtime)
- Take slow, deep breaths
- Give or receive a hug (even a hug from yourself!)
Mental self-care ideas
- Write in a personal journal– try to write at least one page everyday (process journal versus gratitude journal versus “mind dump” journaling before bed)
- Practice mindfulness– pay attention to the moment you are currently in. It can also be helpful to focus on your five senses here.
- Read and educate yourself on postpartum
- Set parameters around electronics and social media (consider plugging your phone into an outlet in another room at bedtime)
- Use visualization- imagine your worries floating away on a cloud or down a river.
- Start your day with one small thing such as making your bed so your physical space is neat and organized
- Allow time to zone out/distract through watching Netflix, listening to a podcast, finding a great audio book, etc. (remember, we can’t do process work all the time)
Emotional self-care ideas
- Do a quiet meditation– start with two minutes every day. Focus on your breath (and anytime your mind wanders, refocus on your breath), and then try upping the time when you’re ready
- Listen to a guided meditation (start with 5-10 minutes per day and work up from there)
- Be vulnerable and ask for help from others
- Volunteer in your community
- Process what’s been going on with a therapist or in a local support group
- Make time to feel your feelings
- Listen to your favorite music or soothing sounds
- Write a letter to help you process feelings towards a specific person or situation- you choose if you want to send it or not (it can also be healing to then destroy it by tearing it up, shredding it, burning it, etc.)
- Have a daily mantra such as:
- Don’t let yourself get so busy that you lose sight of what truly matter in your life.
- You can feel content right here and now AND keep your drive/motivation to be a better version of you in the future
- Take care of you
- Be here now
- Connection first
- Start with kindness
- You are worthy
- Be yourself
- Be still
- Progress over perfection
Spiritual self-care ideas
- Go outside– look at the beauty all around you
- Focus on a creating a kind inner voice
- Practice self-compassion and self-love
- Practice gratitude
- Focus on creating deeper conversations and connection with others
- Create time to connect with God, the universe, a higher power or simply the world around you (you choose the language that best resonates with you here)
Think about what self-care ideas would work for you from each of these five lists. What other self-care ideas would you add here?
Here’s a helpful tip to remember, as your kids get older: kids thrive with a combination of rules and empathy. This combination gives them the structure they need to feel safe, along with the emotional support they need to feel loved.
Kids thrive with…
Love/Empathy + Safety/Structure