Self Care is not Selfish
It might sound cliché but it’s SO true. You need to take care of YOURSELF so that you are best quip to take care of your family. You are working SO hard, and much of the responsibilities that come with having a newborn often fall on the breastfeeding parent. I encourage you to find ways- even small ways- to care for yourself daily.
There’s a popular thing going around on the internet that showering isn’t self-care. Solo trips to target are not self care. As someone who teaches self-care to brand new mommas daily, this is crazy. If you don’t think 15 minutes alone in the shower is self-care, you’ve never had a newborn. Showers can be life-giving! Makes you feel human again! And a solo trip to Target? Yes please!!! Spa-visits are unreasonably at this stage. Normalize everyday self-care. Tending to your basic needs is the definition of self care when you are unable to regularly care for yourself. Guess what… brushing your teeth and washing your face at night isn’t glamorous, but it is care of self.
Have you ever FINALLY sat down, after changing, feeding, changing again, and calming down baby, only to find your coffee has gone cold and your cereal soggy?
“Why does mom ALWAYS come last?” You sigh. Must be the sacrifice we make for our kids, you think. Mom is now Always. Last.
Kids are fed, bathed, and dressed in perfectly coordinating outfits while mom is hungry, in pajamas from two days ago, and in need of a shower.
You gotta put yourself FIRST in order to put your children first.
You gotta put YOUR oxygen mask on before putting it on others, know what I mean?
Here’s where BASIC basic basic self care comes in. Brush your teeth, put in your contacts. Use the bathroom. Do the necessary stuff first, even if baby is fussing. Grab a protein or granola bar before making the kids breakfast. This way you won’t be hangry and short on patience with your children! Then, tend to your children as usual, saving your hot coffee and cereal for after the children are happily fed. See what I mean? Mom comes FIRST, and then last.
You’ve GOT to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your kids.
Then, after kids are taken care of, take care of yourself AGAIN no matter how small. I’m talking dry shampoo and clean leggings small. I’m not talking about spa visits. I’m talking about what makes YOU feel like you. Even standing on your front porch taking deep breaths in the morning air before returning to your house to take care of business! Even putting on music YOU like while making lunches. Even lighting a candle YOU like while changing stinky butts! Do little things to help YOU be your best self for your children!!!
Self-Care All Day
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that self-care has to be done alone- without anyone needing or touching you. To hand baby over to your partner, put up a big “out of office” message, and check out. But a mother home alone all day can’t wait until 6pm to escape to a closet. Implementing intentional self-care WHILE momming is an important skill to learn! So many small acts of self-care throughout your day add up to one cared-for momma. Listening to an audio book while doing chores or sipping hot tea definitely counts. Life with a newborn is actually the perfect time to listen to YOUR music or podcasts, watch YOUR shows, eat YOUR favorite foods… before your life is filled with inane toddler tv and songs and small creatures stealing your snacks!
Mommas, get all the care you can, all the ways you can! Self-care can be implemented in small ways even while tending to the house and children. It NEEDS to, actually, so you can keep feeling human, keep feeling like yourself, and keep being able to take care of those babies! Here are some ideas to implement self-care while caring for a baby:
- Listen to your favorite podcast or discover a new one
- Play a video game while baby naps on you, if they are a contact napper
- Escape through your favorite book or tv show. Don’t worry about “screen time” for baby, especially if they are napping or you are wearing them. Face them away from the TV if you are concerned.
- Connect with another adult on the phone, virtually, or in-person. Adult conversations really help!
- Join a mommy support group if there is one in your area.
- Take a walk with baby in a stroller or wearing baby. Getting outside can really help!
- If you are cleared to do so, exercise while wearing baby or setting baby nearby. Be gentle with your body, but it might feel good to get moving again! There are even some groups of mothers that meet in-person to exercise with strollers!
- Don’t be afraid to allow baby some floor time if you are feeling “touched out.” They enjoy time on the floor, exploring the movement of their arms and legs and observing the world around them, especially outside in the shade!
- Eat your favorite comfort food or beverage. Extra calories and hydration also helps lactation!
- Make sure what you’re wearing is clean and comfortable. Dry shampoo rocks.
Self-Care WHILE Pumping!
Many mommas find that sitting down for their pumping sessions is a great time to incorporate MORE me-time. You’re already being productive- you’re literally producing milk- so why not use that time to care for yourself as well?
- First of all, if you don’t have a hands-free pumping bra- GET ONE. This one by Simple Wishes is my favorite, but you can find a whole list of follower favorites HERE. Going hands-free will free you up to multitask or at least relax!
- Although many of these things can done seated when plugged into a wall, having a portable or wearable pump does help you feel a bit more free! (Baby Buddha shown here- code PUMPMOMMA10)
- Do deskwork- tend to your emails, pay bills, meal-plan, whatever! That may not seem like self-care but you might feel better being doubly productive- making milk AND making a dent in your paperwork!
- Flip the switch- Many mommas enjoy playing Nintendo Switch while pumping. While it’s not for me, I can see how video games are a great escape and make you feel like yourself, with your own interests!
- Keep up communication and connection- Email a friend, write a snail-mail letter to a family member, write birthday cards you need to send but always forget about, or respond to texts you didn’t have enough time to do before.
- Pamper yourself- do a face mask while pumping, do your nails, do your makeup or hair if you’re getting ready for work or just want a random glow-up.
- RELAX! Don’t feel like your HAVE to be productive while pumping… read a favorite book, binge a show you keep just for pumping time, scroll social media (I hear Pump_Momma_Pump has a good Instagram page *winky face*)
Create a perfect pumping spot:
The hormone oxytocin causes your milk ejection reflex (let-down). The more relaxed you feel, the easier it will be for oxytocin to flow! Here are some ideas to help you create a cozy pumping space that engages all your senses!
You’ll see that each image has one of the five senses circled, and then ideas next to it that correspond with each sense… check it out and try to incorporate some of these in YOUR pumping space!