5 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care as a ParentMay 03, 2022
Practicing self-care as a new parent can be challenging. Whether it’s finding the time to do something for yourself, suffering from lack of sleep, or you struggle with allowing someone else to care for your baby while you take some time for yourself, you are not alone!
Becoming a new mom is a transition period where we are constantly learning how to take care of a newborn baby, while also trying to keep up on the responsibilities we had before having a baby . To be honest, it can often feel like a juggling act being a partner, mother, friend, and employee all at once!
Because of this, feelings of overwhelm and stress can creep in and leave us feeling like we’re not enough or as if the ball is being dropped on at least one of our many responsibilities. And unfortunately, these feelings often lead to Postpartum Depression (PPD) and/or Postpartum Anxiety.
In fact, nearly 20% of mothers experience some sort of PPD (mild or major) within the first 3 months postpartum . It has also been found that at 6 months postpartum, over 80% of women have not yet fully resumed their usual self-care routines/activities .
Taking care of yourself during this postpartum period is just as important as when you were pregnant, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Here are 5 simple ways to practice self-care as a new parent.
How to Practice Self-Care as a New Parent
One of my favorite reminders of the importance of practicing self-care is when flying: The safety instructions make it clear that in case of an emergency you should always put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Because ultimately, if you are not well you can’t possibly care for anyone else.
Check in with yourself.
“How am I feeling?”
“Am I feeling supported?”
“What do I need to feel more supported today/this week?”
Tell someone your feelings.
After giving birth, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, happy, sad, melancholy… we feel it all. It may sound exhausting, but sometimes even just opening up and telling someone else how you’re feeling can help you manage your strong emotions and feel just a little bit more connected and better supported!
Hydrate and eat.
These may seem obvious and insignificant, but the truth is that it’s so common that these things often fall by the wayside after you’ve just given birth. It’s easy to become so focused on your new little one that you forget about something as simple as eating and drinking.
Get some sunlight and fresh air.
Just like we may forget to nourish our bodies with food, it’s easy to forget to leave the house and see some sunlight and get some fresh air too! Vitamin D does good for the body though! Putting your baby in the stroller (or baby-wearing!) and going for a short walk around the block, or even just stepping outside for a few minutes can make a big impact on your mood and well-being!
You may have been told to just accept that you won’t sleep for a few months (or a few years) when you first bring a new baby home, but that you’re just supposed to deal with it because you wanted to have a baby… this does not have to be the case. In fact, it shouldn’t be the case! Insufficient sleep is heavily associated with PPD, and if not addressed, can actually increase the risk of paternal depression as well .
While it’s important to take time for yourself, remember to take time for your sleep as well. Staying up late to watch a show is great self-care, but not when it’s consistently putting you deeper into sleep debt. And remember, naps don't mean you're lazy. If you CAN nap when baby naps...please do!
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, don’t sweep it under the rug. Instead, do whatever you need to do to make sure your needs are taken care of. And if you need help? Ask for it. Don't stay silent. There's ALWAYS a solution.
Your needs don’t just disappear once you’ve given birth. These 5 simple things are easily pushed aside when you become a new parent, but they can make a HUGE difference in the way you feel and the way you care for your new little one!
Of course, your baby is your first priority - that’s what instinctually makes you a parent. But don’t forget about yourself. Take care of your basic needs every day and reach out for help when you need it!
Another thing that’s just as important when it comes to taking care of yourself is to remember that it’s impossible to be a superhero. As moms, we often try to excel at everything, while also doing everything ourselves. If something you’re doing (or trying to do) is costing you your mental health or energy - pause and make a change!
This message of self-care and taking care of your everyday needs can be difficult to digest, but I share this guidance because YOU being well, happy, and having support is important.
If you're struggling with symptoms of depression & anxiety, please reach out to someone you trust & to a mental health provider.
If you find yourself also struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides or schedule a call with me for some personalized support.
Looking for some basic sleep tips to get started? Make sure to download my FREE Sleep Tips!
Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!
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