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How to Fit In Self Care As a New Mom

Oftentimes when I see new moms in a therapy setting, they describe how they already felt like they were drowning in work and personal tasks before even getting pregnant. How will they ever find balance again with a new baby? The simple answer is, that balance will probably look really different. 

For some women, it’s hard to reconcile who they used to be and all of the ways they filled their time and reached their goals with the person that they are now, who has to accommodate for the needs of another over her own. It can be an isolating and frustrating experience. I’ve seen patients who loved running or playing drums pre-pregnancy have to give it up altogether post-pregnancy. It can feel like a total loss of identity and loss of a coping method.

Adjust Your Expectations for Post-Partum Self Care

But the important thing to remember is that we, as humans, are resilient and adaptive. Perhaps leading up to having a baby, or any major life change for that matter, we can take time to adjust the expectations we have for how we will care for ourselves. When we go into a major life change thinking we’ll just be the same and be able to cope the same during and after the change, we set ourselves up for failure. For example, I may be able to do an hour of yoga three times a week after work now but how likely is it that I will have that same amount of time and energy after I have a baby? 

Modify Your Old Habits to Fit Your New Lifestyle

My suggestion is that next time you have a significant life change, ask yourself if what you used to do to relax, de-stress, and feel good is sustainable now. If the answer is no, can the amount of time be adjusted (i.e. 15 minutes of yoga instead of 60)? Or, can you find another activity that has similar benefits (such as going for a brisk walk instead of committing to an entire run)? Or instead of adopting all new strategies, can you try mindfully enjoying quiet moments (like sitting down to smell and drink your coffee, listening to soft music or nature sounds, feeling the comfortable clothes on your skin, etc.)? 

Of course, sometimes major changes happen and we cannot always prepare ahead of time. The key here is to give yourself some space to adapt to your new normal and then try out some new ways of taking care of yourself. For new parents, you can reasonably expect you’ll have limited time and energy, so maybe starting with something small, like trying an activity–exercise, breathing, a puzzle, mindfulness, a phone call–for only 10 minutes a few times a week just to see how it feels. 

You Deserve to Be Cared For Just As Much As You Care For Others

You can always go back to the drawing board. Just don’t give up on taking care of yourself, you deserve it just as much as those you take care of.

Melina Hickey, LIMHP
Melina Hickey, LIMHP

Melina Hickey, LIMHP, is a mental health therapist with CHI Health and holds a Perinatal Mental Health Certification from Postpartum Support International.

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