The concept of self care, wellness and optimum health (both mental and physical) has come up tons, as you’d expect, from this initial start to motherhood. I’m super happy for that, because I want to be the healthiest I can be, both for myself and my bodies recovery, and for Sonny and those around me. It’s time to give back to my body, slowly, for all its hard work producing a baby!
Hair loss, lower back pain, pelvic pain, weak knees is what’s going on here! Following arrival home after the birth and still very much being on cloud 9, I remember being surprised at how stiff I felt! Elated, but so stiff! I had had significant pelvic girdle pain during the pregnancy, and been very inactive so I’m sure this had its contributions also, as well as the obvious regarding the effort of labour and then going straight into night feeds and little sleeps.
For me, the first 12 weeks of adapting to motherhood and riding through colic days, were quite difficult to consider properly self care, so I just want to say if you’re in the early days and the throes of cluster feeding, comfort suckling, intense lack of sleep, and/or dealing with other issues either for you or the baby, to go easy on yourself anyway and to note I didn’t start doing many of the things I’m mentioning below until the last week, when our boys colic has turned a positive corner as he hit the 11 weeks mark. Formulating a daily care plan in the early days can be as basic as drinking enough water, having a hot shower and a nutritious hot meal. Make sure you get a hug for you in there also!! Consider getting help in if family aren’t nearby. In retrospect for those first few weeks I wish we had got a cleaner in for instance!
It gets easier, but is definitely tricky finding, and managing time and therefore lowering expectations, having patience and self kindness is key as you get to grips with being a mum. I find my first priorities are the washing up and the babies bottles, and that if I can brush my hair and my teeth before midday I feel these are major wins! My to-do list often encompasses household, admin and baby dominated tasks and very little time for self-care and other personal actions I’d like to complete but I appreciate this is needed for the moment and won’t always be the case. I’m also trying to reframe the concept of the “to-do” list, to the “have done” list, in order to celebrate anything I manage to tick off, and where possible, prioritizing aspects of self care and well-being for me.
The guidance is to wait at least 6 weeks before exercising, but this is very much a case by case basis, you should be checked for your 6-8 week appointment by your doctor first, and with the lack of sleep and extra hormones if breast feeding (which means relaxin is still present and you are at risk of injuring yourself if exercising too hard, too much, too soon) you may find as I have that you are certainly not ready at 6 weeks to exercise. Go at your own time and space, there is no competition for it- though it is important, it’s like restoration to your body after what it has developed and amazingly produced 🙂 If you do find you are in pain, then definitely see your GP. They may be able to refer you to helpful professionals such as specialist osteopaths and physiotherapists who will be adept at dealing with postpartum mums. Some kind of gentle activity to begin with where you feet don’t lift the floor and you work smaller muscle groups to ensure you ease yourself in slowly is what I have found works best for me. You understandably may not feel like completing too much exercise on very little or broken sleep! These early days are #survival.
Daily walks: at the very basic, if you aren’t in the position of completing more intensive exercising which is understandable, a walk really IS beneficial for your physical and emotional well-being. This might not be as easy if having your baby in winter months, in which case I should change “walk” to “outing”, for whatever reason you may need to leave the house. Where possible, it’s good to set yourself a goal in later stages of leaving he house once a day.
If you have family around you that can offer support, this of course will be super helpful in establishing more self care rituals: eg, someone to look after your child for half an hour whilst you take a bath or go out for a walk is gold especially in the first few weeks.
If you are breast-feeding, look at additional vitamins you may need and will benefit from (these can be discussed with your GP)
Books: ok so this might be one to read a bit further down the line when you actually have the time (!), but “The Little Book of Self Care for New Mums” by Becky Hands has been recommended to me. I’ve been toying as to whether to buy it or not, as I have a growing collection of unread, but super amazing books on our bookcase waiting for me!
Over the last week, I’ve made a pledge to myself to complete a weekly home based facial, to manage my lack of sleep wreaking havoc on my skin! That’s a lovely one that can be popped on quickly at any time of course, breast feeding, making dinner, doubling up with showering!
Corona meant all mother and support groups were out of action for my first few weeks. I have recently been introduced to a contact group for new mothers in the local area and it is GOLD! I can’t tell you how amazing it has been in just 3 days of being added in, to have support from other people going through very similar experiences at the same time as you are. Emotional support is so so vital in these beautiful but rollercoaster times!! Sonny and I have our first mother and baby group next week and are meeting one of the mums there, and having coffee with her afterwards! Making contact with others experiencing what you are, or similar is something I wish I had had from the get-go, but am so grateful to have now.
Drink water! A dull one but important one: I give myself a little goal of drinking 3 pints of water by midday, plus all the other mornings juices/cups of tea, and do the same again in the afternoon!
What things are you doing, or did you do as a new mum that you would add to this list?