Having a child is one of the most wonderful, soul-stirring life experiences. The cocktail of joy, love, exhaustion, self-doubt, among other emotions, is truly intoxicating. But when we are not mindful about self-nourishment especially during postpartum, we may begin to lose ourselves as we navigate through motherhood. Joy can turn into resentment, exhaustion into burnout, love into obligation, and doubt into judgment. In this stream of energy and attention that goes to nourishing our babies, we may find ourselves wondering, “What about me?”
As a women’s wellbeing counselor, I have witnessed how the lack of self-care drains our life force and depletes our energy source. Our hormones go out of balance, our ability to manage daily stressors goes down, the tendency towards anxiety and depression goes up, and our capacity for motherhood gets compromised. We shift into survival mode instead of flourishing in this very fulfilling role. While self-nourishment is not a one-size-fits-all, here are some things to consider when creating your routine:
- Nourish your body. For postpartum care, choose foods that are supportive of sustainable energy. Eating smaller, more frequent, wholesome meals helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, smoothens the spikes and dips of your energy levels, and supports the postpartum hormonal transitions.
Combine this with a gentle exercise routine focused on reconnecting with your body and breath as a means to realign and restore following birth. Postpartum care specialist Amber Sawyer, Ph.D. of embodiedwomanyoga.com suggests that the greatest impact a woman can have on her postpartum recovery is by giving special attention to her posture and her way of breathing, each having a phenomenal impact on pelvic floor health and deep core stabilization.
To balance the energy output of childcare and your other daily demands, we recommend taking recovery breaks while your child is napping. Oftentimes, we use our children’s nap times as a way to catch up with other demands. While this can be necessary at times, make sure that you also use these precious moments to give yourself a daily break!
- Connect with yourself regularly. Our bodies love routine, just like our babies! Observe your baby and notice that they have a natural routine. Within this routine, establish your own 5 to 15-minute mini-ritual focused on your psycho-emotional care. Meditation, journaling, a short walk, even sitting with a warm drink in your favorite corner routinely each day, can boost your well-being.
- Create a supportive environment. “Have an entourage for your different needs,” advises Integrative Medicine Physician Patricia Petralba, M.D. of thrivelifecenter.com. For new mothers, this means being clear about your needs and unapologetically asking for support from your partner, caregivers, immediate family, and friends. If you are experiencing depression, seek expert help. As your child gets older and you become clearer about your mothering style, your needs also change. Adjust your environment of support accordingly.
Postpartum self-nourishment is essential to your new role as a mother. When you are well nourished, nurturing your child, with all the ups and downs, becomes second nature.