Updated: Oct 25, 2022
We've all heard the phrase. It's the current buzz word for many groups these days. Ideas are shared, some practical, some not so much, among Facebook mom groups. Our doctors offices have pamphlets on managing our mental health. We can see headlines along every magazine as we buy our groceries.
How can we translate all the information into something that will work for us personally? First we need to understand that the idea of self care can mean something different for everyone, and that it changes to suit the season of life we are in. What worked for your best friend Jenny while she was pregnant may not work for you during your pregnancy. What your mom did while raising her own children may not suit your needs as you raise a family of your own.
The bad news is, as an individual, you will need to find your own way thru the concept of self care.
The good news is, there are almost always some guidelines as to things that can help no matter what season you are in. There are basic concepts in everything, and knowing some of them may be just the direction you need to find what works best for you.
Something as seemingly simple as taking a hot shower...can make all the difference in our perspective. Choose a time with the little one (or ones) are occupied and content. Have an older child or your spouse keep an eye on them, grab that scented bath oil or body wash you love and enjoy the quiet moment as long as you can. If that isn't an option, grab that bouncy seat or baby swing and take it to the bathroom with you. A silly song and game of shower curtain peek-a-boo aren't going to keep you from soaking up the benefits of a hot shower.
Be mindful of your physical health...by eating better and getting some exercise. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed sugary treats will provide the nutritional boost you need, without causing spikes that will disrupt brain chemistry. Eating leafy greens and B vitamins can help curb bouts of depression, as can getting outside in the sun as much as possible, and increasing your intake of omega-3 fats found in tuna, sardines and salmon. Increasing your water intake can also greatly affect your overall health.
The Food Pyramid illustrates how different types of foods can be combined to build a balanced diet “from the ground up”. Food groups appearing closer to the base of the pyramid (such as fresh vegetables and fruits) should make up a larger portion of your daily food intake, relative to those found farther up the pyramid (eggs, dairy, and meats).
Being mindful of your appearance...can make a world of difference in our outlook. Ditch those raggy sweats and put on a bright, pretty shirt. Being pregnant, or being in those postpartum days, doesn't have to mean you need to forego style. Dress up and flaunt that baby belly no matter what stage its in! If postpartum hair loss is an issue for you, getting yourself a fresh new style will help. A new, low maintenance cut or style can give you a fresh, new appearance and an easy-going, time saving morning routine.
“Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own” -Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons
Don't stop being YOU...Even though you have a new facet to what makes you who you are, that's no reason to forget all the other things that make you you. Maybe you once had a passion for creating things...just because there's this new creation in your life doesn't mean you have to stop what you love. Yarn work, painting, sewing, reading...whatever your passion is, keep pursuing it. Find a trusted sitter, leave the children with your spouse, take an hour or so each week to stir up that passion and be creative. Not only will this benefit you, but your baby and family will benefit from it as well.
Relax into your life and don't worry...having a baby for the first time (or the third time) is life changing for everyone. Some may make it look easier than others, but don't let them fool you...babies are an adjustment for everyone. Don't be so hard on yourself. No one starts off being an expert parent...honestly, no one ever attains that label. We are the best parent for our own child or children. What one mom can do should never take away from what you can do. Parenting is about being the best you can, moment by moment, with your child. Each baby will have differing needs and as Mom, you can and will adapt to that. Don't look over those dressed up Instagram and blog posts and feel you've missed anything. Relax and enjoy the gift of motherhood.
Sometimes it's deeper than simply eating an apple, sitting on the front porch, or getting a new outfit or hairstyle. If you experience a depression that you simply can't get out from under, don't hesitate to talk to your spouse, your family, a friend. Sometimes these feelings are just a deep sense of being overwhelmed and giving voice to your concerns and worries, having a sounding board to bounce ideas off, will give you direction and can begin to make a difference...
however...if you feel it goes deeper than that, don't hesitate to mention it to your healthcare provider. They have the tools to diagnose and refer you to those who can walk this path with you and help you find yourself again.
Here are some of the markers of depression to look for:
Loss of interest in friends, family and favorite activities, including sex
Trouble making decisions
Thoughts of harming yourself
Delusions and/or hallucinations can also occur in cases of severe depression
Withdrawing from people
Missing work, school or other commitments
Attempts to harm yourself
Tiredness or lack of energy
Unexplained aches and pains
Changes in appetite
Changes in sleep – sleeping too little or too much (Note: if you are concerned about your sleep, Click here to take a simple quiz that can help you determine whether your current sleep patterns may be causing you problems.)
Of course, all of us can expect to experience one or more of these symptoms on occasion. An occurrence of any one of these symptoms on its own does not constitute depression. When healthcare professionals suspect depression, they commonly look for clusters of these symptoms occurring regularly for two weeks or longer, and impacting functional aspects of the person’s life.
Are you a first time mom? Having someone to talk to is important for everyone, but having good, evidence based advice is also important. Find your village! If you are in the north Mississippi area, we have a tribe ready to share with you.
Are you a veteran mom? What types of activities made a difference in your pregnancy or postpartum? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Sharing between moms is one of the best tools we have to help one another!