As anyone who has ever had a baby can tell you, that initial postpartum period - right after you have your child - can be a blur of nursing, diapers, cuddling, crying, bursts of broken sleep, hormones, and lots of healing. There may not be a lot of balance and even less self-care during that time. However there are some small - and EASY - steps a new mother can take to heal, ground and nurture herself.
So many mothers end up feeling guilty for taking time out for ourselves. And many times we are just too exhausted or overwhelmed to even do one more thing, especially after giving birth. However, you can’t take care of someone - a baby who needs the utmost care - if you are running on an empty tank. The following tips are quick, simple and doable.
First - breathe. The power of breath is outstanding. By taking just 3 deep, slow breaths upon waking in the morning - or really any moment where you have the time - you can ease anxiety or irritation and promote relaxation and calmness. You don’t need to use complicated breathing techniques, you don’t need a mantra or to think about anything specific, all you have to do is take a slow inhalation through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth.
Another easy, and important, thing to do is to hydrate. For nursing and healing mothers, it is recommended to drink approximately 80-100oz of water a day. In Ayurveda, drinking warm water is promoted. Warm water is soothing, relaxing, good for digestion and can help with letdown when breastfeeding or pumping. Put the water in a fancy cup and you can add another lovely element of self-care as you sip away.
Those are two simple self-care tips you can do at any time during the day or night. Many busy mothers have difficulty fitting in a shower into their daily schedules. And if you’ve been waking up every two hours for nights on end tending to a nursing, crying and/or poopy baby you know exactly how hard that can be. But if you can carve that time out for yourself in the morning, even for a quick 5-minute rinse down, you’d be surprised with the foundation it can set for your day. This is a wonderful self-care practice.
If you’re newly postpartum, an excellent tip for healing and soothing would be rubbing yourself down with coconut oil (or even better yet, having someone else do it), before taking a shower. If you are having breast pain from nursing, you can also gently massage your breasts in a circular motion from your chest out to your nipples. Just make sure to get all the oil off in the shower before you nurse again.
Instead of a shower in the morning, a quick nightly bath is also a wonderful act of self-care. It can last just ten minutes but the relief, soothing and balance it promotes can last all night. For an extra postpartum healing element turn the bath into a healing sitz bath (a bath in which the water goes just up to your hips and the focus of the bath is on your lower half); see below for our 2-minute DIY Sitz Bath Recipe.
It’s important to nurture yourself as well as nurture your children. Remember: self-care is not selfish. These are some small steps you can take for yourself in those first, precious weeks with a newborn. Self-care blocks that you can build upon as your baby grows and you come out of that fresh, postpartum fog. And if you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Just take it one moment and one day at the time.
Mrs. Patel’s DIY Postpartum Sitz Bath
* If you have some tea bags of herbal Chamomile tea, you can use 4 of those as well.