A new baby in the house is exciting, a bit scary….and exhausting!
While much attention is—and should be—paid to a newborn child, a new mother needs care too.
If you’ve had a baby and you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you just want to know some ways to look after yourself, here are some tips on self care for new moms.
Why Self Care for New Moms is Important
Self-care is defined as caring for your own health, well-being and happiness.1 As a new mom, it may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day for child care, never mind self care. But looking after yourself is an essential component of wellness, and will help you be a better mom. It can also help relieve some of the stress of being a new mother.
Making time for yourself is not indulgent or selfish, and will pay off down the road as your child grows, and potentially your family grows too. Even small acts of self care can help with any feelings of stress, exhaustion and possibly depression.1
An Example of Self Care for New Moms
The health care system focuses on babies but often neglects or minimizes the needs of their mothers. The necessity of support for new moms has been recognized in Japan, with the establishment of centers that support new moms and their babies.2
Mothers and babies can visit or stay at postpartum care centers, which provide support in the early stages of child-rearing, such as looking after the physical and mental well-being of mothers who are exhausted after delivery, and assisting with breast-feeding.2
Midwives and other personnel help mothers heal, give checkups for babies, teach mothers how to bathe and hold newborns, and advise them on child-rearing.2 The Fukushima Midwives Association is one example of the care provided to new moms, including support to recover from mental and physical exhaustion.3
Your Own Self Care
We don’t all have access to a postnatal center to help with our new baby, or feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted. Here are a few ideas for your own self care:1
- Ask for help: Don’t think you can handle everything on your own. Accept help when offered, or ask for help, even to have an hour to yourself.
- Schedule time for yourself: It might seem impossible, especially in those early days, but make a date with yourself and keep it. Read a book, take a nap, or do something you enjoy like a walk in the park.
- Build healthy routines: As much as possible, try to incorporate healthy routines into each day. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, get as much sleep as possible (nap when the baby naps) and get some physical activity each day, such as that walk or a short yoga routine.
If this doesn’t sound realistic, even taking 10 minutes a day to focus on deep breathing or meditation is a good start.1
See A Doctor
If your feelings of being overwhelmed start to feel more like depression, seek medical attention at once. Depression including postpartum depression should not be ignored and can be treated. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you who can help.