Sometime in the past year, you’ve had a baby and now you’re ready to start focusing on yourself again. But you may be wondering how to even get started on what seems a monumental undertaking. After all, you’re still taking care of your baby and possibly other children, you’re managing most if not all the household duties like cleaning and cooking, maybe you’re working, and you barely have time to shower. Some days you don’t even get dressed until mid-afternoon! Yet finding and taking the time to take care for yourself as a person is so important for you right now while also being your biggest challenge.
Being a mom myself and recalling those months and first year after my children were born, I understand how hard it is focus on yourself. You may even feel guilty about taking time away from baby or lack the emotional energy to do one.more.thing. You fondly recall the days prior to having kids (or COVID!) when you were able to have a night out with friends, a date night with your partner, time to go to the gym or even alone time to sip your coffee in the mornings. Yes, your circumstances and priorities have changed after having a baby, but there are ways to recapture your “glow” and start to do some things for yourself again. Here are 3 different ideas for how you, as a postpartum mom and woman, can start practicing self-care.
#1 Exercise/Activity – Get Your Body Moving!
Once your doctor releases you to physically exercise or be active again, postpartum exercise can greatly benefit you. Even if you didn’t have an exercise routine set prior to being pregnant or while pregnant, this is a great opportunity to take small steps to help feel better about yourself and your body. The changes your body goes through while pregnant and after giving birth are profound, and affect some women differently than others. One of the most overheard complaints I hear from postpartum women is how they are negatively affected by how their body has changed. Losing your pregnancy weight has become a very popular topic, and sure, exercise and physical activity will help with that. But the benefits of starting and sticking with a regular exercise routine go beyond this and into how exercise affects your mood and overall wellbeing.
When I talk about an exercise routine, this could be anything from daily walks with your baby to doing virtual classes to yoga in your living room. It can include lifting weights in between laundry loads or doing cardio workouts in your basement. The point is, you can create anything you want for your exercise routine. Start out small, setting aside 20 minutes per day (or 2 10-minute increments) and do what you can do during that time. You can include your baby in the workout somehow or do it while he/she is sleeping, or during a time when your partner can watch the baby. You’ll likely see some amazing benefits almost right away. Your self-esteem will raise because you’re doing something for yourself to feel healthier and stronger, and your mood will be happier. And, everyone can benefit from that, not just you!
#2 Healthy Nutrition – Eating Healthy vs. Eating Conveniently
Many postpartum moms have poor nutrition, as often you grab the closest thing that is conveniently available and do not have the time or energy to prepare or cook healthy meals. Usually, it goes one of two ways. You either crave and overeat carbs and sugary foods, or you have no appetite at all and don’t enjoy eating anymore. Both of these issues can cause problems physically and mentally. Bad eating habits can negatively affect your mood, causing you to feel down, in a rut, or exacerbate postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Take some time to plan ahead, maybe even just one day at a time, so that you know what you’re going to eat and when. Enlist your partner, a friend or a family member to help you out with planning and perhaps even meal preparation. Taking extra care to plan what goes into your body will cut down on convenience snacking and make you feel better overall.
#3 Social Time
One of things that goes by the wayside after you have a baby is your normal socialization opportunities. If you’re on maternity leave from your full-time job, all of the sudden you’re home alone with little to no social interaction with colleagues that have become your friends. Or maybe your normal support system doesn’t include other new moms, and you feel like you have nothing in common to talk about anymore. You’re still recovering physically from giving birth, so you’re probably not getting out and about that much, and most of your time is spent trying to engage with your baby who isn’t quite talking yet. Make a list of social activities that you can do now, after having a baby, perhaps with your baby or alone, and try to do at least one thing on your list a day. Talking with other adults will help you remember that while you’re a mom, you’re still the same person you were with the same interests, before you had a baby.
Now you have an idea (or five) of where you can start with taking care of yourself after having a baby. I suggest that you focus on just one of these ideas, and figure out how you implement it into your daily or weekly schedule. Get support from your partner, friend or family member to get started and to keep your motivation up for following through with your plans. Taking care of yourself helps you better take care of your baby, your family, and even focus better while at work.
How We Can Help
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For postpartum moms who are ready to go from feeling lonely and overwhelmed to connected and understood.
If you or your partner are looking for postpartum support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
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Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.