Before I was a mom, self-care was a staple in my life. I pretty much used self-care as a modality to accomplish a multitude of things in life. For example, I never had to change my eating habits to maintain a healthy weight, I just practiced enjoyable self-care that kept me on track by my own homemade recipes, getting plenty of rest and practicing restorative yoga.
When I became a mom, I realized that self-care can look a little, or a lot different, than it did before a new baby entered your life. Sometimes I barely had time to make it to the bathroom on time, let alone have time for a few hours of restorative yoga. It’s no secret, nothing can truly replace self-care in your life. If you spent ample time in your life practicing self-care before a baby came along, there isn’t a short cut that can get you back to the same place you were before your baby was born and you were practicing self-care for hours on end every day. However some self-care is better than none, and there may be ways to fit little bits of self-care into your own routine with baby that may be new and different than how you were practicing self-care before.
For example, one of my friends told me how she was practicing meditation while breastfeeding at night. When beginning a meditation practice, it can feel like you are putting a little work in on the front end, but after a little practice it feels pretty relaxing and the mindfulness pays off into other areas of your life. Meditation while breastfeeding is a perfect combination because most people enjoy breastfeeding their baby, but it can also get a little monotonous at times as it happens for hours on end throughout the day. You can begin a breastfeeding meditation practice by savoring the quiet hours spent breastfeeding, focusing on your breath and even various sensations you feel during breastfeeding. Some people have even taken meditation and breastfeeding as far as doing a yoga pose while breastfeeding, which is pretty neat! I haven’t been able to master that yet, but it is definitely something to aspire to.
Other examples of self-care that can be practiced while taking care of your baby is truly loving on your baby. Think about the things you enjoy about being a mom and make a quick gratitude list. Maybe they are simple things like the cuteness of your baby, the sounds your baby makes, a good photo you got the other day. As we appreciate the good in life it seems to make piles of laundry a little easier. I also incorporate loving kindness into the practice of caring for my little one and it would make my mind go quiet and become grateful while doing what may seem like tedious tasks. Take time to smile at your baby during changes and treat them like a true friend explaining everything you are doing to care for them as you do it.
Allow yourself to let go of some of the standards you held high for yourself before having children. For example, I am comfortable going out of the house without make up on now. I never wore tons of make up before being a mom so this was not a huge step for me, but I could see anyone taking baby steps in this direction. For me skipping some natural looking eyeliner and bronzer could save me lots of time and I could devote that time to a more rewarding form of self-care like doing ab exercises. It’s all about choices and it is helpful to prioritize what self-care you value over others, while still keeping a light heart about everything. I stay free formed and light heart and don’t restrict make up, but if it’s too much that day I let the critical voice in my head take a hike!
Another thing I noticed as a new mom was the desire to reach out and be more social than before. Birth is such a life changing experience and as a new mom we go so far as to taking on a new identity. We also have lots of new happy chemicals flying through our bloodstream like oxycytocin. Every mom needs support and being social can be a great way to get it. There are lots of new mom groups like La Leche league, baby-wearing clubs and breastfeeding support groups. I made a lot of new friends at these groups. It’s pretty neat how having something in common like the life change of becoming a new mom can break down any barriers and differences between various people and you can even form a few unlikely friendship you might not have found without being a mom. But, just listen to how this life change speaks to you and ask yourself what new forms of self-care might be calling to you in your life, it could be friendships as it was for me, but it could also look like seeing a different side of nature, working on posture, renewing an old relationship or picking up a new skill.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on incorporating self-care in a new way into your life. The list doesn’t end here, but the main idea is that give your self-care goals a sense of flexibility when tackling mom life. You may not have the same amount of time that you did before for self-care, but there certainly are some creative ways to fit in self-care as a mom throughout your day.
I am a new mom, an RN, an aspiring IBCLC, and a spiritually minded, caring gal. Here I am now, writing about my journey, my faith and trust in breastfeeding in hopes that it will help you along with yours!