Those first months of motherhood can be isolating. Your hormones are going crazy. Your body is changing dramatically once again, and now you’re expected to take care of your precious newborn. Odds are that your partner (especially if that partner is your typical dude), won’t understand what you’re going through - the pressure to be the perfect mom combined with the pain of recovery.
Don’t get bogged down by the pressure. Even in those days when you’re waking every few hours at night and then getting up bleary-eyed, remember your importance. You’re the one who sustained this life in your body. You can do it now that your baby is earthside. No one can take care of that baby the way you can, but first you need to practice good self care.
I believe that overall wellness relies on three steps - rest, release, rejuvenate. I’m not sure every new mom can (or should) squeeze all three in everyday, but focus on one to start.
Rest - If possible, sleep of course. But if that doesn’t work, find what recharges you. But I have seen even the most avid “Oh, I don’t nap,” people turn into nappers during the newborn stage.
Release - This step is all about getting rid of whatever toxic thoughts you may have. Exercise and meditation are two ways to set your mind straight.
Rejuvenate - The fun step! This is doing what makes you YOU! Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or skincare enthusiast, make time to remember that in addition to a mom you’re also the same woman you were 9 months ago.
Here are some simple ways to take care of yourself that are easy to forget in the fourth trimester when you aren’t necessarily physically or emotionally ready to get back to all the things that you love!
Could I be more cliche? But seriously, sleep is so critical. It has been shown that sleep deprivation past a certain point has the same effects on your body as alcohol does. You wouldn’t be taking care of your baby after a tequila bender would you?
You likely won’t get the quality or amount of sleep as before, but don’t be afraid to ask your partner to take over so that you can nap. In addition to the exhaustion, your body also needs to heal and does so when resting.
It’s so easy to order pizza or run through a drive thru, but you will feel so much worse. Stock the pantry with healthy options and keep on getting those fresh fruits and veggies in! I prepared a bunch of healthy crockpot starter kits that I froze before I had my first son. It was simple, and it felt like we had an actual dinner instead of just questionable burgers out of a greasy bag.
If that’s not possible, keep taking your vitamins - especially you nursing mommas!
Also, stay hydrated. Sometimes drinking water perks me up even more than a coffee does. Sometimes. Not all the time. Let’s not go crazy.
I am far from a yoga lover. I’m the one in the back rolling my eyes and thinking about my to-do list when I should be centering myself. But I do think that stretching, particularly right when I wake up, gets my body ready for the day.
I literally roll out of bed and right onto the floor. I also find that I can think about the day ahead more clearly at this point. Check out these simple stretches for beginners and Beauty and the Beat blog for more in depth details about yoga and motherhood.
Again, I typically roll my eyes when someone (usually my husband) says take a second and get some fresh air and sunshine. But, as a new mom I loved taking my little ones for walks. It was the perfect way to get outside and also start getting back into a fitness routine. Plus, usually babies are soothed by the ride which means a few minutes of peace and quiet for you!
Take a route that has a bench or two so that you can take a breather or nurse easily.
My favorite! When my house is cluttered, my mind is cluttered. There are so many things going on in the fourth trimester, that any additional clutter is too much. Pick one room, cabinet, closet and purge. Get rid of anything that is unjustifiably taking up too much space. This is also a great way to get you back into a fitness routine. Or is it just me who breaks a sweat decluttering?
Remember what you used to love + do it
I love morning quiet time. It let’s me do whatever it is that I want that day. Like today, I’m writing. Yesterday, I was meal planning. Yes, I do enjoy meal planning.
We have worked our schedule so that my husband takes the babies on a walk in the morning so that I have a second to breath. It’s great for me, and it gets all the boys outside everyday.
Have conversations about something other than kids
It can seem like you a now defined by this precious baby. Plus you want to show them off to anyone who will listen, but don’t forget that you have interests outside of that. Even if it’s just talking to the barista about the newest blend, focus on talking about what interests you outside of your child.
Morning and nighttime beauty routine
I am not one of those girls who feels compelled to put on a full face of makeup everyday. I do love a good skincare routine though. I have found that just a quick routine of a few product in the morning and evening right before bed relaxes me. My morning routine has fresh scents and Vitamin C to wake me up and my nighttime routine has more creams and oils to wind me down.
Take a long shower
Girl you stink, take a bath. No one wants to say it because you’re a raging hormonal mother, but take a long shower. Not only will it instantly rejuvenate you, but it also is the perfect excuse. “Sorry, honey, I can’t get the baby right now. Will you check on him?” Boom.
Sometimes, you just have to separate yourself from it all. The fourth trimester has by far been the most overwhelming season in my life. There is someone new in the family who constantly relies on you for everything, and that can be really jarring. When you feel that overwhelm bubbling up, schedule child care and get out. Go wander Target and enjoy the fact that all the screaming kids there aren’t yours.
Tips to get it done
If your life is run by your calendar, then plan it. I have the gym scheduled three days a week every week. I know that it is time for myself that I get to look forward to, and my husband will plan his work day around it.
It sounds so simple, but it’s so difficult. I can tell you from experience - when you try to have it all, you will get burned out. Remember that in order to properly take the best care of your child, you need to take the best care of yourself. Build a community that will help you do that - friends who will talk to you about The Bachelor and trusted neighbors who can babysit.
Don’t feel guilty
The hardest step. You think you will miss something or that you SHOULD be with your child. The best way to overcome guilt is to talk about it. I always tell my husband when I’m feeling guilty about doing something for myself, and he talks me down.