So you had a baby and, let’s be honest, taking care of yourself has been pushed way down on the priority list. You’re not sure how many times you’ve reheated your coffee, you don’t know exactly when your last meal was, your physical activity includes bending over to pick stuff up off the floor, and you’re always tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally, you are so tired.
Self-care is a term tossed around a lot lately, particularly the emphasis of mother self-care in the 4th trimester and beyond. It sounds delightful in theory, but how do you realistically put it into practice? It’s time to make it a daily part of your routine because, and here’s a truth bomb for you, you cannot take care of your family if you are not appropriately caring for yourself. Period.
So let’s talk about 5 small acts of self-care that can have big and positive outcomes.
Whether your work is solely with your baby or you also have a job outside of the home, make a point each day to step outside. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Mother Nature can handle what you have to give and will receive it with open arms, so don’t be afraid to let go of things you’ve been holding inside. If it’s possible, go for a walk. Otherwise simply be…with your fabulous and worthy self.
Nourish Your Body
I’m not talking extravagance here. (But if you can go there, by all means do!) I’m speaking more to the idea of making sure you stay hydrated and eat an enough meals and snacks throughout the day. I know this sounds like a boring type of self-care, but it’s so important. Your body cannot function optimally if you don’t fuel it. (And if you’re breastfeeding, your milk supply could plummet without proper body nourishment.) If you don’t already have one, purchase a water bottle and keep it with you always. Set several alarms on your phone to make sure you fill that water bottle and have a snack or meal. If you have a support system helping you along the way, then task them to help you with this or they can easily start a MealTrain.
Find and Embrace Your Village
We were not made to do this parenting thing on our own, mamas. If you already have a solid group of like-minded mothers LEAN ON THEM. Open up dialogue about the triumphs and challenges of parenting, swap out days to help each other out with baby care, start a group chat to vent when you need. Lean on your people. They will learn that it’s safe to do the same and you’ll all be supported.
Don’t fear if you are still in the process of building your support system. Places like MOPS, MeetUp, and local Facebook parenting groups that schedule frequent gatherings are great places to start. Other great resources are: La Leche League, local parenting centers offering gatherings for mothers and babies, and your local library. You can also start a group yourself and switch off hosting with members or meet at your favorite local family-friendly spots. Keep it simple because it’s the company that matters most.
You grew, birthed, and are now raising a baby. If getting coffee every afternoon makes you feel like a normal adult, then enjoy that java. If leaving the house for one hour to be free and wild at Target lowers your blood pressure, then spread your wings and fly on your cart through those aisles. If you need to pencil in yoga on Sunday morning (regardless of what your baby or your partner or the world says) because that is your church, then namaste every Sunday.
No one else gets to determine what indulgences you prioritize. You’re giving a lot more than you probably ever have so make sure you’re also getting some fulfilling things on your end.
Ask For Support
There is no shame in asking for extra support. I know many of us feel that as mothers we should be able to do it all, be it all, and have a smile on our face the entire time. That sentiment is unrealistic and it’s dangerous. You are worthy of having people help to fill in the gaps where needed.
Ask your friends and family for help — and be direct about what you need. If you don’t have built-in support, consider hiring a postpartum doula or nanny. They are professional support people whose job it is to make your life a little bit easier. And doesn’t that sound nice?!
Bottom line: the overall health and wellbeing of your family starts with you choosing to make yourself a priority. So what will you do to take care of yourself starting right now?
Jami is a birth and human rights advocate, who respects the fierce vulnerability and power in creating, welcoming, and nourishing every stage of a family. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula through Doula Trainings International (DTI), has also trained with DONA International, and received her Lactation Educator Counselor credential from the University of California San Diego.
Jami’s goal of supporting a thriving village extends beyond her role as owner of AustinBorn. She is an active member of her local doula and birth communities, and holds memberships with the Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition and the Austin Young Women’s Alliance, and is the former Secretary of the Central Texas Doula Association.