by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

This is Self-Care: 4 Habits to Cultivate for New Mums

Image via @minkie_mk

According to the World Health Organisation, 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who just gave birth experience a mental disorder. Of these, the condition is usually depression. One of the most common is “baby blues”, which is usually caused by hormonal and lifestyle changes.

Most women experience symptoms like crying more often, feeling overwhelmed and being more emotionally fragile, but these should taper off at the end of the second week postpartum. Be on the lookout for signs of other conditions like anxiety or depression during your first few weeks of being a new mum. This is due to the sudden changes in your hormones and lifestyle — new routines, responsibilities, and caring for your baby, coupled with sleep deprivation.

It’s crucial to practice self-care as you settle into a new routine with your baby. To help you out, focus on these 4 simple self-care habits and activities to make yourself a priority.

Build good self-care habits for yourself

Make sure you’re treating your body right. Start by nurturing good self-care habits, such as eating a well-balanced diet and getting some exercise every day. Try a 30-minute walk around the neighbourhood or doing stretching exercises like yoga. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight can also help to elevate your mood.

Reduce your chores and errands

The first thing you need to keep in mind is: don’t feel obligated to tackle all your chores and errands. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself and your child. Consider asking your family, in-laws or friends for help with the chores at home. Otherwise, you can also consider hiring a confinement nanny or helper.

Conserve your energy by sitting down to do things like changing a nappy, folding laundry or breastfeeding. Keep your meals simple; the last thing you want to be doing is spending every night cooking dinner — unless that’s something you really enjoy. Plan weekly meals to help you prepare. 

The main takeaway here is to get more rest. Wherever possible, try and nap during the day when your baby is asleep. In the first few months, catch up on your sleep on the weekends and cut out caffeine and other stimulants to improve the quality of your sleep.

Set aside time for yourself

As a mum, it’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day routines of family life. Each day, set aside time to do something that makes you happy. It can be anything, from listening to your favourite songs, reading a book, taking a long bath or watching Netflix. It’s great if you’re heading out to catch up with friends, but be sure to place your needs first. It’s perfectly fine to reschedule, especially if you’ve been up all night with your baby.

Keep your spirits up with positive self-talk — treat it as a self-reminder to be compassionate and understanding towards yourself. You can repeat mantras like “I’m doing the best that I can, and that’s enough” or “My baby and I are doing great and I am thankful”. Statements like these help empower you and put you in a positive mindset. You can also end off your day by noting down a few things you were most grateful for each day in a gratitude journal.

Build healthy relationships

Don’t let your busy schedule squeeze out time for family and friends. Stay connected to your loved ones; take the time for a video call and let your loved ones know how to support you during this time. Maintaining your relationships, especially with your partner, is essential for you to get the emotional and physical support you need.

Schedule some time to spend with your partner as well. Where possible, avoid lashing out at your partner and try to work on parenting challenges together. Talk about dividing the household and childcare responsibilities, as well as what you need or how you feel. Finally, schedule some time to spend in each other’s company. After all, a date night never hurt anyone.

This story first appeared in Motherswork.