Whether you’re a first-time mum or you’ve got a new bambino in the clan, self-care for new mums is a must. But it’s no secret that often, mama is the last one to have her needs met. A hot shower, or cup of tea, or meal, can seem like an impossible feat. But if you don’t prioritise your own self-care, things can fall apart for the whole family.
In her new book Self-Care For New Mums, author Ruby Matley shares her tips and tricks to putting self-care back on the agenda. Here’s one of our favourite sections….
By Ruby Matley
Self Care for New Mums by Ruby Matley, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99.
How to self-care
There are no right or wrong ways to self-care. It is multi-dimensional and individual to you and your needs. Essentially, self-care is anything that empowers you to feel good and be present in the moment.
We each have our own story to tell; this is what makes us who we are. Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to self-care either.
Self-care supports us in times of change – and babies inevitably change our lives. Know that things will continue to change over time. As your baby grows, there will be more windows of opportunity to follow passions and explore new possibilities.
Self-care doesn’t need to cost money
You don’t need to buy an expensive face mask or go for a massage once a week. It can be as simple and as powerful as loving yourself not only on the good days but also on the bad ones; honouring yourself and your feelings; and allowing yourself to spend time away from your little ones, free from any guilt.
It may be making a conscious effort to sit down with your partner, rather than stacking the dishwasher, and setting time aside to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company, conversation and shared experience as a parent. Self-care could be giving yourself permission to nurture your own mind and body, such as joining a team sport again or practising yoga or meditation, or reading a book.
Perhaps it is about saying no to things that don’t serve you, and rejecting negativity. It might be about making choices and decisions that are right for you and your family, no matter what others may think.
Self-care for new mums might be about asking for help when you need it, and knowing what will help you to get through difficult times and make you feel good on challenging days. Sometimes self care is a practical thing that may seem tiny, but can help you reset.
Simple self-care ideas
- Change your bed sheets.
- Reorganise or declutter a space in the house.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good.
- Sit outside in the sunshine with your baby or your partner.
- Express how you are feeling to a friend or family member.
You may like to use your self-care time painting, gardening, working with ceramics or creating other art work. It may be that being busy with your hands is a form of mindfulness for you. Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time, so when we engage in an activity that we enjoy we are focused only on that. This allows those other worries, insecurities and expectations to fall to the wayside and helps to regulate our emotions (because, let’s be honest, motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster!).
Remember that self-care is different for everyone.
Take a moment
Set an intention for each of the following; it doesn’t need to be big or challenging, just honest.
- What does looking after your physical health mean to you?
- How can you look after your mental and emotional health?
- What does looking after your social health mean to you?
THINGS TO CONSIDER
When you are planning your week ahead, try to create gaps to fit your self-care into your schedule. Write it in your diary or planner to keep yourself accountable. Start small – you can always add to your list.
Go gently with yourself and know your limits. Be mindful that there are many external factors that may be contributing to you feeling more vulnerable, exhausted and emotional than usual.
- sleep deprivation
- fatigue and exhaustion
- hormonal shifts
- breastfeeding concerns
- diet and nutrient consumption
- relationship difficulties
- financial stress
- housing changes
- grief and loss
- pain, related or unrelated to birth.
Take note of how you’re feeling, and learn to recognise when it is time to respond to your needs; this is more important than cleaning the house or working late into the night. In time, you’ll become more aware of what it is that fulfils you, relaxes and calms you, and fills up your cup.
Remember that self-care isn’t selfish, nor does it mean you don’t love your baby any less. Self-care can help to maintain positive feelings and a sense of wellbeing, or be a tool you reach for when things are challenging and you’re struggling.