Although the massive overwhelm, physical and emotional changes that come with being a new mum don’t directly cause postnatal depression; they play a substantial role. In addition to ensuring you seek emotional and practical support from your partner and family, it’s essential that you look after your own physical and emotional wellbeing. One of the best ways to do this is with postpartum self-care.
But don’t think of self-care postpartum as something that has to involve day spas or expense and that can only be done away from baby, there are plenty of self-care ideas that you can easily enjoy with baby in the comfort of your own home. The concept of these self-care ideas is to give you a break from the mundane: the feeding, the night feeding, the waking, the crying, the nappy changing, your fluctuating hormones. It’s hard, but you need to take care of yourself to function.
Self-care for postpartum health
Enjoy a foot spa
If you don’t have a foot spa at home, a bucket will do. Fill it up with lovely warm water, add your favourite essential oils and enjoy. You can even do this while you breastfeed, have a towel next to the bucket to put your feet on.
Hire a cleaner for a once off clean
Cleaning usually comes last when there’s a new baby in the house, but that doesn’t mean that the clutter doesn’t have a negative impact! In an article by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), it is mentioned that clutter has an effect on cognition, emotions and other behaviours as well as our mental health. So, give yourself a break, take the pressure off and get a cleaner in for a couple of hours; it’ll immediately change the way you feel.
There’s no better time to start yoga than now. It’s a gentle way to exercise your body, it’s relaxing, and you can do it with your baby. There are plenty of Yoga DVD’s or YouTube videos you can follow, just set up your mat in the lounge room in front of the television.
Watch a movie
With so many excellent streaming services these days, there’s always a great movie or TV series to watch. Set yourself a movie date, pop some popcorn and get lost in a movie plot.
Read or listen to an audiobook
While the baby is sleeping or happily enjoying time in the baby swing, grab a book or whack in your earbuds and listen to an audiobook. It’s the perfect opportunity to be whisked away to another world, if only for ten minutes.
Order Uber Eats for dinner
You are not superwoman; you just grew a human and gave birth to it, so don’t feel guilty for having dinner delivered to your house. Whenever you can, give yourself a break and order in.
Get your hair done
Talk to most mums, and they will confess that they went a very long time between haircuts after having their children because it just wasn’t a priority. The thing is, you don’t have to go out to a hairdresser, they can come to you. Not only will you feel amazing once your hair is done, having someone wash, massage and brush your hair is worth it.
Go for a walk
It sounds like a simple, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of being a new mum that going for a walk gets forgotten. The process of putting the baby in a pram and walking around the neighbourhood is not just about exercise; it’s the perfect self-care for new mothers. It’s about seeing and smelling new things outside of the four walls of your house. When you see new things, you gain new perspectives, and your mind starts thinking about different things, away from the usual monotony. Even if it’s cold outside, layer up your baby with winter onesies and cotton blankets.
Start a journal
When you spend a lot of time on your own with a baby, you tend to think about a lot of things. Why not try to capture these thoughts by writing them in a journal. It will enable you to reflect, it’s good for your mental health, and the process of getting thoughts from your mind onto paper can be quite refreshing and powerful.
Take yourself out for coffee and cake
You can never say no to cake! Whether you drink coffee, tea or juice, take yourself out to your favourite café, park baby next to you in the pram or wear them if they prefer, and enjoy having something prepared and served to you in entirely different surroundings. Oh and, you deserve cake!
Join mums and bubs exercise group
Many local councils have mums and bubs exercise groups in the park, a great way to get active with the baby to exercises suitable for new mums and a great way to make new friends in a similar life stage to you. Even better, if your baby starts to cry, there will be plenty of understanding from everyone in the group.
Use essential oils
As a new mum, you’re likely experiencing many feelings and emotions; sadness, stress, restlessness, anxious are just a few that come to mind. Although getting enough sleep, having a proper diet and exercise are essential to making you feel your best, essential oils can be used to support feelings of wellness.
Start a blog
Why not try what Eva did when her son was a baby, she started a blog, and it’s still going strong as The Multitasking Woman. Type in ‘how to start a blog’ in Google, and you’ll find loads of information.
Join an online group
There will be times when you’d prefer to stay indoors, in the comfort of your own home. That doesn’t mean you can’t network with other new mums, you can join an online group for parenting tips and support. Facebook has plenty of Mum Groups, some that are local, others that are Australia wide. If you’ve got a pressing question to ask, there are always plenty of mums to help.
Use positive affirmations
There’s no doubt about it, being a new mum is hard, and we’ve all wanted to give up at some point. Using positive affirmation cards is the perfect way to counteract those negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones. Sometimes, our negative thoughts can overtake unless they’re stopped.
Listen to a podcast or two
There’s a podcast on almost every topic. If you’re a keen learner, you can learn so much while breastfeeding! If you’d like to learn how to start a blog, listen to a podcast. Need some inspiration for your upcoming bathroom renovation? Listen to a podcast! You’ll feel very productive.
Get a mobile massage
Your body has worked so hard, so give it a break; give it the massage it deserves. There are so many masseuses that will come to you; having a massage is the ultimate in self-care for new moms.
Do some gardening
Gardening is therapy in itself, not only is it great for keeping active, it is a great way to relax and get your mind off all of the other ‘mumlife’ stuff that’s taking up your time and breathing in the fresh air.
If you’re not creative, now might be the time to find your creative streak. Whether you start painting by colours, upcycling furniture, sewing or even starting a baby gift box business as I did, these are all ways to focus on doing something you enjoy while giving your mind a break. Not sure how to find your creative streak? Here are some tips on how to find your inner creative guru.
Postpartum self-care is only one part of looking after yourself as a new mum, don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember, you can only do your best.
If you find you are not coping, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14.
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