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When I look back on my life so far, I can easily point to the time when it was hardest for me to prioritize self care, and that’s when I was a brand new mom. You’re tired, your emotions are all over the place, you may not even know which way is up in those early days!
When we think of becoming a mother, most of us conjure up images of pregnancy or the birth of a child. But when your first child is born, so are you: as “mom.” Your first born’s birthday is your “birth” day too. And with that in mind, we share some of our best tips to carve out time for self-care during the emotional and amazing process of becoming a mother.
Accept that “Change” is the New Constant, and Give Yourself Grace:
This is a time of immense personal growth and transformation. You might find that your priorities and values have shifted: you’re reevaluating career choices, your relationship with your partner, friendships, your view on world events. You may develop new interests and passions, or experience a renewed sense of purpose and meaning. Take the time to explore these changes with curiosity rather than judgment.
Seek Out Support from Your Circle:
The saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," is particularly relevant when considering matrescence. You might have a great support system in your family, and if you do, lean into it! Seek out support from your circle!
The transition to motherhood can also be challenging and stressful, particularly in the early postpartum period. Women may struggle with feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and isolation. Access to maternal health services, support from your partner and family/friends are key to help you navigate the challenges of motherhood. Your loved ones may not know you’re struggling unless you tell them, so don’t hesitate to speak up! We aren’t meant to parent alone. Make a list of a few people you can call in a pinch to help you, and talk to them in advance about what you might need.
Give Yourself a Break:
Parenting can be an amazing thing, but it’s also a job - especially in the early days. Like any job, you need breaks! Make sure you are planning at least 30 minutes a day to do something just for you: even if it means running a quick errand alone, devoting time to your personal care routine, or locking the bathroom door and having a good cry (we’ve all done this one!). Allow yourself to feel the losses of the person you were before, and embrace the beauty of the new person you are becoming.
This will help you see that it’s okay, and even expected, to have ups and downs during this time. Every transformative experience in your life will be full of both positive and negative emotions, and motherhood may illuminate this more than any other change you’ve been through.
Reject “Bounce Back” Culture:
Prioritize rest and recovery, rather than pushing yourself to resume your pre-baby routines too quickly. Anti Bounce-Back Culture is about recognizing that every woman's postpartum journey is unique and valid. By challenging the unrealistic and harmful expectations placed on new mothers, we will create a more inclusive and empowering environment for all women. Remember that your changing body and mind are things to be celebrated, mama.
Pay Attention to and Protect Your Mental Health:
Do mental check-ins with yourself regularly. The stress and exhaustion we feel as a new mom can sometimes escalate to the point that it requires medical intervention. Know that this is completely normal - in fact, nearly 1 in 5 new moms will experience postpartum mental health struggles. Recognizing the signs of postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is crucial for early intervention and support. Remember, access to maternal health services is available. We aren’t meant to parent alone.
Matrescence recognizes the profound transformation we undergo when becoming mothers. You grow, you change, you laugh and cry. One of the most important lessons we can take from this time spent mothering others is learning how to mother ourselves. Mom life gets hectic and there are always distractions and challenges that pull us away from taking care of ourselves, but dedicating a few minutes a day to doing something that makes you feel good can set the tone for the rest of the day. And with time, it can become a habit that we carry with us throughout motherhood.