From the moment you find out you are pregnant, all you can think about is your new baby, and all you want to do keep him or her healthy and safe. These thoughts and feelings only intensify when your baby arrives, and you begin your life together as mother and child. Caring for a newborn is an around-the-clock job, requiring what seems to be endless amounts of energy. But how do you meet this need, while keeping your cup full?
It all starts with saying, “YES!” When a spouse, grandparent, friend, or neighbor offers help, don’t turn down the extra set of hands or the prepared meal. You are already a superwoman – just by being a mom – but that doesn’t mean you must do it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever or however you need it.
Having a strong support circle is only the beginning of our self-care advice. Here are five more tips to help you keep your cup full – even overflowing – with energy for you and your baby:
Self-Care Tip #1
Sleep often (again, take advantage of offers of help!)
Sleep can be a challenge for a woman even before she gives birth. According to the National Sleep Foundation, women need more sleep than men and are more likely to report having difficulty sleeping. Most babies sleep for only a few hours at a time. This can make for a tired mama —especially if you are breastfeeding. Pumping and storing breast milk so that someone else can help you with night feedings is a great way to get a few extra hours of sleep. Sleeping when your baby is sleeping (after taking a nice hot shower) and turning off phones, televisions, and other distractions can help as well.
Self-Care Tip #2
Fill up on healthy foods and drinks
All new moms need to keep their bodies full of healthy foods (high fiber, low-fat foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts) and healthy drinks (low caffeine, low sugar – especially plenty of water). Breastfeeding moms also need to add protein-packed foods to reach the recommended extra 500 calories to support breast milk production. Having friends or family help prepare ready-to-go snacks and quick meals can help you when you are by yourself with the baby or juggling multiple kids. A daily postnatal vitamin can ensure that you are meeting recommended levels of vitamins and minerals to support your needs (and that of your baby if you are breastfeeding).
Self-Care Tip #3
Move as often as you can
If you were an avid exerciser before you had your baby, it might seem impossible to think about fitting in exercise now, but that doesn’t have to be the case. After the first six weeks post-birth, most women are cleared by their physicians to resume regular sports and exercise activities. You may even want to try new things with your baby, like mom and baby yoga or getting a jogging stroller.
Exercising not your thing? That’s okay; you can focus instead on just moving more than sitting. Take walks with your baby, do some squats, crunches, or jumping jacks, or find a fun exercise or dance video online to try. Being active will help with post-baby weight management, keep your energy levels up, and help keep your stress and anxiety levels in check.
Self-Care Tip #4
Aim for calmness when you can
There is not much that is calm about being a new mother. Yet, even just a few minutes of quiet “me time” can do wonders for you. Listen to a meditation app or music on your phone, write (even just a few lines) in a journal, or engage in your favorite hobby, even if for a short time. These “micro self-care techniques” can be an energizer for the tired new mom.
Self-Care Tip #5
Don’t put your health on the back burner
Your check-ups are just as important as your baby’s. Make sure that you are keeping up with all your regular check-ups. Be mindful of how you feel throughout the days and weeks after giving birth and talking to your family and your health care provider if you feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can impact your ability to care for yourself and your baby safely. Still, it can be managed with treatment and support so that both you and your baby are happy and healthy.
By keeping these things in mind, you can better keep your cup full and be a healthier and more rested mom for your baby. Babies grow up so fast, so most of all, enjoy every precious snuggle and kiss. There will always be chores to get done and things to do, but take time to relax and get to know your new bundle of joy.