Monday, April 25, 2011

Postpartum Self-Care

For nine months you have been taking care of baby by taking care of yourself. Eating healthy foods that include lots of protein, fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains and limiting your intake of processed foods and unhealthy snacks. You could feel good about your exercise sessions, knowing that in turn, you and baby would benefit when it came time for the birth. It was a two for one special, take care of you and the benefit is you also took care of baby.

Now that baby is here, everything has changed. Between changing diapers, midnight feedings, consoling her when she's lonely and hunting for a fresh outfit when the last diaper didn't hold up, it's easy to feel that there is little time for taking care of yourself. Mom care. After baby care, bill paying, cleaning, groceries and cooking where is there time to take care of yourself?

First of all, it's important to see the absolute need to care for yourself. You can't wait until baby is older to take care of your own needs. Learn how to adjust your new life as a mommy to include time for your own self care. When mom is taken care of, everybody is happier!

  1. Eat like you're still pregnant. OK, you can cut down on the quantity a bit, but still look for healthy options and take your prenatal during the postpartum period and while breastfeeding. 
  2. Exercise at least twenty minutes a day. Once you have your midwife/doctors clearance for exercising, get back into a good exercise routine. Start with familiar exercises like pelvic rocks and deep breathing. Avoid anything strenuous at first. A postpartum yoga routine can be helpful.
  3. Chill for twenty minutes a day. Take some time to sit or lie comfortably and just focus on your breathing. Meditation/relaxation practice calms your nerves, lower your heart rate and raises your endorphins, those feel good hormones.
  4. Do what you want. Once a day, do something you enjoy. It might be as simple as calling a friend, or reading a feel good fictional book, or inviting your neighbor in for tea and adult conversation.
  5. Get out there, girl! Once a week (minimum) get out and see friends, go to the park, a museum, window shopping with the girls or lunch out with your sister. 
  6. Write it down. Get a notebook or journal and write out your feelings, plans, dreams. Write down something positive from your day, as well as pouring out your heart on paper.
  7. Keep meals simple. A little planning ahead before baby comes can help with this. A few weeks before your due date make double batches of your favorite meals and put them in the freezer. Gather simple ideas for meals that are quick and healthy. 
  8. Go with the flow. Accept that not ever day is going to flow as smoothly as you had hoped and just "go with it." Accepting situations as they are is a good lesson in life and parenting in general.
  9. Stay connected with your partner/spouse. He is probably tired, too. Eat together when you can, sit on the couch for a few minutes each day to cuddle and catch up on each others day. 
  10. Join a mommy group in your community for social time that meets you and baby's needs. 
Remember, when you take care of your own needs and allow yourself to recharge before becoming depleted, you are also taking care of your baby by giving her a mom that is rested, healthy and happy. 

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