Let’s face it, we all have our days, days where everything seems to be falling apart and you can barely peel yourself off the couch. These days happened before I became a mother and they happen even more after motherhood. And while it’s not possible to have great days everyday, I am starting to think that these kind of days, the days when we “just can’t” happen because we forget about ourselves and the importance of self-care, especially as new moms. But there comes a point when you can’t down three or four cups of coffee, cover-up your dark circles with concealer, push through the exhaustion and “do it all,” and more often than not your body will end this struggle for you, forcing you to stop in your tracks and rest. To be perfectly honest this is exactly what happened to me at a few points in the third trimester of this pregnancy. So I decided to make a change and want to share how I got out of the “couch coma” by allowing myself to lay there just a little bit longer.
Self-care is a phrase I hear thrown around often, sometimes as a marketing tool and sometimes as something truly necessary. In this particular case I want to share some tips and advice for new and expecting moms on how to practice simple self-care in a way that you can actually make it work in your new life.
First and foremost, acknowledge that you are in fact pregnant. I know this sounds crazy and maybe a little bit strange to say, but for me this truly is a difficult thing to wrap my head around. I forget that my body is carrying around a lot of extra weight and that by third trimester you can feel very tired, so doing as many things as I was before might not be entirely possible. I’m not saying that life has to stop because you are pregnant, during second trimester I had a surge of energy and felt unstoppable, but acknowledging where you are at in your pregnancy is key and giving your body what it needs, especially rest, instead of pushing through the exhaustion will make you feel a lot better and you might find that you are able to do more after taking that time to rest and clear your mind.
If this is your first pregnancy you have one thing going for you, “me time.” Me time is a lot easier to find when you don’t have children running around yet or bedtimes to coordinate, but with that said, you still may lead a very busy life. So for first pregnancies I would suggest scheduling the me time in now as much as you can. Take the time to do that little project for the baby (for me that was making a blanket), go for a prenatal massage, take a bath and if possible take naps or go to bed early; never underestimate the power of sleep!
Enjoy Being You (Hobbies)
As new moms we often put our own hobbies and creative outlets on the backburner, forgetting how much joy these things brought us and refusing to let our old selves into our new lives. As someone who thrives off of creative energy and only truly feels like myself when I am writing, baking, taking pictures or participating in some kind of creative task, this was never really something I lost. In fact, I think I had an influx of creativity throughout both pregnancies and motherhood. What I will say is that when I do put my hobbies on the backburner I don’t feel like me anymore. So take time to do things that make your heart happy, things that make you feel like you.
Journaling is something that I’ve been doing since I learned how to put pen to paper. Writing is something that I find therapeutic because it helps me channel some of my energy and thoughts, it gets some of the noise out of my head and as a new mother you can expect there to be a lot of “noise.” We all need to talk through things sometimes, but we often aren’t ready to share those thoughts with the world. That’s why journaling, maybe before bed instead of doing anything electronic, is a good way to get those thoughts out. There are many mothers who like to journal about their first year as a mother, noting the milestones they’ve experienced with their little one, but also tracing their own journey and the many changes they’ve experienced in this new chapter of their lives. Journaling is also a very calming experience as we don’t often write with a pen and paper anymore and this action can be liberating, much different than typing, which we can associate with work.
Take Time for “Tea”
When I say “tea” here I mean it figuratively as well as literally. As a new mother I often dedicate a bit of time throughout the day for “tea.” I do actually make myself a tea, but this is more about the action of pausing, sipping and savouring a short break than it is about the actual caffeine. At the beginning of my maternity leave this felt almost impossible, “when would I ever have time to fit in a ‘cup of tea’?” but as time went on, I learned to make the time! I would dedicate a small portion of naptime to myself and instead of seeing how much I could do around the house I would chose one or two tasks and spend the remainder of the time resting.
Ok so I know that bathing isn’t for everyone, but as a new mother and in this second pregnancy with “me time” being a little bit more limited, this has honestly been my saving grace. Taking a bath, candles, a good book and a tall glass of cucumber water can make you feel like you are at the spa! I think the scents of the candles mixed with the fresh cucumber water (spas always have some kind of cucumber/lemon water) make it feel like I’m in a spa oasis. In addition to all of this “spa-like stuff” the feeling of weightlessness as you float in the tub for 10, 15 or 20 minutes when you are 35 weeks pregnant is amazing and takes some of the pressure off my back that I normally feel when lying down. I usually reserve bath time for just before bed, there’s been a lot of studies that show that a warm bath helps soothe a baby before bed, and in my opinion it works for mamas too!
There are so many ways to take care of ourselves and the ones I’ve listed are just a few that have worked for me. The important thing is to acknowledge that taking time for yourself is just as important, if not more important, than checking things off an endless to-do list. It’s not selfish to refill your own cup so that you can pour into others, it’s not just a luxury, it’s essential.
What are some ways that you practice self-care? I would love to hear them!