I remember the first time I showered after my son was born. It was strange; I never found showers relaxing before, but it was an oasis of calm this time. For the first time in nearly a week, I had time alone to reconnect with my mind and my body. I didn’t know it at the time, but asking my husband to watch the baby long enough for me to shower was my first step to self-care as a new mom.
Self-Care for New Moms – The Postpartum Reality
When your little bundle of joy arrives, they become the center of your world. But, unfortunately, we get so wrapped up in caring for our baby, our husband, the house, and everything else as a wife and mother that our own well-being falls to the wayside. Often, our mental health and physical well-being suffer as a result.
As much as 1 in 8 women suffer from postpartum depression in the United States. Many mothers, including myself, struggle with body image problems, anxiety, and exhaustion while adjusting to their new roles. The good news is, practicing self-care can help new moms cope with and overcome their newfound struggles post-birth.
A Note On Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression is a severe illness that thousands of women face. Symptoms range from depression, anxiety, mood swings, appetite changes, and sleeplessness. If you believe you have postpartum depression, reach out to your healthcare provider for help.
“I Don’t Have Time For Self-Care!” (I’ve Made Excuses Too.)
Let’s get this elephant out of the room first, shall we? It’s so easy as a new mom to find a reason not to practice self-care. The baby is awake. Dinner needs to be made. I don’t have time…I don’t have energy… I told myself all of these excuses and more to get out of self-care. To me, self-care just seemed like another chore I had to make time for. I didn’t understand the benefits or need for it when I had a million other things to take care of.
You’ll probably catch yourself making excuses too. As moms, we put an immeasurable amount of responsibility on our shoulders regarding our husband, children, and work. But don’t forget, you also have an obligation to yourself! You can’t be the best mom or wife possible without taking time for yourself. More importantly, you can’t be the best you possible without caring for yourself.
What The Bible Says About Self-Care
When I began to struggle with postpartum depression, I started hating myself. I felt ugly, useless, and disconnected from my family. But a good friend reminded me that God always values and loves me. She pointed me to 1 Corinthians to remind me that God’s spirit lives within me.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
We often hear the line “your body is a temple” as a reminder to eat healthily. But for a Christian, the phrase means more than that. 1 Corinthians also reminds us that our bodies are God’s temples. Because we love God and worship him, should we not also love and take care of His temples? The answer is yes, we should. Self-care shows we care about ourselves and that we care about our relationship as God’s temple and children.
Remember that we are children of God, and in Him we find solace and rest. God wants us to live a life of compassion and love; He takes it upon himself to give us rest and security. The book of Matthew reminds us that we have but follow God’s path to find rest for our souls.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
How I Figured Out Self-Care As A Mom
It took me a month to realize I was making excuses about self-care. But eventually, I got tired of the excuses. So I started thinking, what even is self-care to me now? In high school, self-care was a two-hour nap and reading the whole day. I couldn’t do that as a mom. So I had to rethink self-care.
As it turns out, the best way to find out what works for you as self-care is by trying out different ideas. What’s relaxing to me may not be relaxing to you. I spent the next month taking thirty minutes a day to explore self-care ideas ranging from power naps to a walk around the block (with my husband watching the baby, of course.)
Not every activity felt like “self-care.” For example, I tried soaking in a hot bath and found myself bored and anxious. But, when I went for a walk outside, I felt a weight come off my chest. I knew what worked for me because I’d return home from a walk or coffee run with a smile, feeling a little less overwhelmed by everything going on.
So, if you aren’t sure what looks like self-care for you, take the time to explore different ideas. Keep a journal or list of how each activity makes you feel. Soon enough, you’ll know what works. I recommend trying out some of these popular self-care suggestions for new moms if you need inspiration.
Self-Care Ideas For New Moms
- Shower alone, with your husband watching the baby.
- Start a Bible devotional for moms – I recommend Pressing Pause by Karen Ehman. The devotionals are short and perfect for a quick R&R session with God.
- Start an appreciation journal and write one thing you appreciate about your life every day.
- Take a walkout in the sunshine.
- Order your favorite take-out.
- Enjoy a mini spa day with a face mask, foot soak, or Epsom salt bath.
- Indulge in an adult coloring book.
- Turn off social media for a week.
- Try a mediating app.
- Watch a RomCom or your favorite movie with your spouse.
- Practice Yin or Hatha Yoga.
- Take a nap, and have your spouse watch the baby so you can enjoy it!
- Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea alone, with a book or TV show for company.
How To Successfully Practice Self Care With A Baby
We all know that we mommas want to make time for self-care. But successfully practicing it? That’s another question entirely. So how do we build in self-care for new moms between the diaper changes, piles of laundry, and ever-growing grocery list?
Stop the Excuses
I know, I know – but it’s so easy to make excuses! But seriously, don’t let yourself. You need self-care the same way you need food and water. So, prioritize it. Every day, take a moment for self-care.
If you catch yourself making excuses, remind yourself of the following:
- God wants us to take care of ourselves.
- You are a better mother and wife when you are rested and healthy.
- Taking time for self-care builds your personal respect, strength, and confidence.
- Self-care makes you happier and healthier.
Every day, schedule your self-care. And, don’t always build it around the baby’s naptime. It’s okay to ask your spouse for support and fifteen minutes to fit in some yoga or tea. So, schedule your self-care, and follow through with it.
If you know you have a crammed day ahead of you, schedule just five minutes of self-care. Take the time right before bed to meditate, squeeze in a ten-minute walk at lunch, or simply enjoy a slightly longer shower as you get ready in the morning!
Build A Support Network
So often, we new moms feel like the entire weight of the world is on our shoulders. We think we can’t or perhaps shouldn’t ask for help. But that simply isn’t the case. So, new moms, this is me reminding you that it’s normal and necessary to ask for help! So, build that support network that you can turn to for help.
- Ask your husband.
- Ask your friends.
- And most importantly, ask God to be there for you on your self-care journey.
Balance Your Self-Care Activities
It’s crucial that you practice physical, spiritual, emotional, and social self-care activities. Remember that seeing a dentist, eating healthy, and working with a therapist are also forms of self-care. So, diversify your self-care. Eat well, see your friends, go for a walk, and always, always pray!
You Deserve Self-Care (And It’s Okay To Need It, Too.)
To all the new moms out there, don’t be afraid to remind yourself that you need self-care! Raising a child, being a wife, and simply being human is hard. You need self-care as much as you need oxygen – it keeps you healthy and ready to take on the day. But more importantly, you deserve self-care. So, permit yourself to enjoy a few minutes every day to find rest and relaxation. Go ahead, I’ll say it again – you deserve it.
Also, if you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression, you’re not alone. This Christian therapy guide can help you on your journey to getting back to feeling like yourself on. Take care of you my sister!