Becoming a Mama is a privilege like no other. After what can be many years dreaming of what your sweet little baby will look like, smell like, sound like, and what it will feel like to wrap them up in your arms, those sacred moments will finally arrive. The emotional and powerful head-to-toe love you will develop for your baby is a love that only you will understand. Your natural Mama bear instincts will begin to kick in and the overwhelming sensation to nurture and protect will take over. But Mamas, don’t forget about yourself.
The postpartum period is different for each woman but often as the euphoria that comes with having a newborn begins to subside, the exhaustion, isolation, and realisation that there is life outside of the newborn bubble sets in. It’s important to take time to nurture your mental and physical health and create a life balance that works for you as a new Mama.
While there are many blissful moments of contentment as you stare at the beautiful little baby that you created, the postpartum period is not for the faint-hearted and finding time for yourself may seem impossible. Taking care of a newborn will take up a lot of your time, energy, and love but I am here to tell you that it is so important to offer yourself that same effort in time, energy and love. While you might not be able to spare as much time for yourself, allowing space to nurture yourself will help you develop more self-care, self-love, and self-worth which will help you to bond with your baby and strengthen your relationship with those around you and of course yourself.
Taking care of your physical health as a Mama is so important to help assist with your energy levels from lack of sleep, nourish your body while breastfeeding and to help recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Food and Hydration
Nourishing your body with good foods as a Mama is essential. The nutrients that the body needs after birth are greater than most other times in your life, to assist with recovery and to help you fuel and nourish your little babe through your breast milk. Eating good nutritious food may sound easy to some but when time is limited and you’re tired, it’s easy to forget to even eat. Before your baby is born and into the future, prepare some of your favourite healthy meals and freeze them for easy dinners and lunches. Include foods that are rich in essential vitamins, iron and fibre eg., leafy green vegetables, fruits, natural yoghurts, oats, grains and legumes. It’s also a good idea to have healthy snacks on hand to grab and go that doesn’t require any effort eg., muesli bars, nuts, yoghurts and fresh fruit and veg. Another idea, if cooking is not your thing and getting to the grocery store is not easy, order through a healthy meal delivery service to provide you with meals to have in the fridge or freezer already prepared (even for the first 2 weeks postpartum)!
It’s always an important part of self-care to stay well hydrated but even more important when assisting your body to heal and help to produce breast milk. Breastfeeding requires extra hydration and you will find that when feeding your baby, you may become excessively thirsty. This is a sign that you need to remain better hydrated throughout the day to help you with breast milk production. Hydrating your body helps to deliver nutrients to your cells and improve your quality of sleep, cognition and mood. Aim to drink 3 litres of water a day to stay well hydrated.
Moving your Body
Keeping your body moving provides many benefits for your health and wellbeing. Exercising can help the body to recover, rebuild strength and fitness, elevate low moods and prevent the onset of postpartum depression. Exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym and pumping out a high-intensity session. While high intensity is great for strength and fitness, simply going out for a walk, doing yoga or Pilates in your living room or turning some music on and dancing around the house in your underwear while you clean, can be enough to help provide your body with the essential benefits that exercise offers. Always seek advice from a healthcare professional before commencing exercise after birth to make sure you have allowed an adequate amount of time for your body to heal.
Becoming a Mama comes with many different life changes. Creating a home for your little babe throughout pregnancy, bringing them earthside during your labour and birth and then learning to be a Mama in the postpartum period can create many physical and mental changes. Along with taking care of yourself physically during this time, it is equally as important to take care of your mental health and take time for yourself. A combination of lack of sleep, adjusting to your new role as a Mama, recovering from birth and changes in your relationship and social life can all lead to a decline in mental health. Becoming a Mama doesn’t mean leaving your old life behind. It means adding a new member to your crew and learning the best way to adapt your life with them in it.
Here are some helpful tips to help take time for yourself as a Mama:
- Prioritise yourself – take 20 minutes each day to do something for yourself
- Sleep when your baby sleeps – forget Nana naps, Mama naps are just as important!
- Try 20 minutes of meditation each day
- Bond with your baby – spend time talking, touching and communicating with your little one
- Go on date nights with your partner at least once a month, it’s important to continue to build your relationship even after becoming parents
- Make time to see a friend each week – that can be as simple as inviting them over for coffee
- Check-in on yourself – ask yourself how you are going
- Lastly, ask for help and accept help when you need it. There is no shame in asking for help, in fact, all Mama’s need a break from time to time.
The best thing you can do as a Mama to help yourself and your mental wellbeing is to set reasonable expectations of what is possible to get done in a day. Often Mama’s have such high and unreasonable expectations of themselves each day and this can lead to a lot of stress when they haven’t reached their goal each day. It’s important to remember no day is the same as the next. One day you might be super Mama and have a clean house, dinner cooked, washing hung out, work done and a happy baby and the next day just getting to have a shower is an accomplishment. Managing to keep yourself and your family fed, well-rested and happy is what matters, the rest is a bonus. Reach out to someone you trust if you find yourself struggling and get in touch with a medical professional to help you in the right direction with getting the help you need.
Remember that your health and wellness is vital and helping yourself to be stronger physically and mentally will help you in every other aspect of your life. Go easy on yourself and make yourself a priority Mama!
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