With the joys of motherhood, it can also be downright difficult, affecting our mental, physical,
emotional, developmental, and social well-being. We often worry if we are “doing it right,”
wondering if our children are following their developmental stages, managing feeding
schedules, and sometimes sleeping. All of this while navigating work with home-life balance,
continuing to keep family and partner relationships strong, all while often forgetting to fit in
some self-care for ourselves, so we don’t lose ourselves and our individual identity.
Why is it so hard to do self-care after having a baby?
Women are now increasingly combining work and family roles, with a continued societal
pressure for motherhood, including how to eat, sleep, how to breastfeed, pressure on losing
the baby weight, being successful at work and having a happy marriage, while always putting
All the above stressors plus a lack of time for self-care often leads to parental burnout
(emotional and physical exhaustion), which can lead to distancing from our children, reduced
feelings of parental accomplishment, as well as sleep problems and partner conflict.
First, take a breath, you are doing fantastic, mama!
So, what can we do to avoid burnout?
Practicing self-care might seem like a simple task but initiating it and practicing/maintaining it
can be difficult. This may look different for each mom and is determined by what each mom
needs- ranging from a nap, scheduling needed appointments, reconnecting with friends,
spending time with self to reconnect, exercise, or even taking a shower.
Some important aspects of creating self-care activities for yourself are;
- Setting realistic goals
- Incorporating these activities into your schedule on a weekly/daily basis, and keeping
- Make sure you are implementing activities which you enjoy, little or big!
- Don’t feel bad for making “You” time! You deserve it!
- It may be difficult but try not to compare yourself and your self-care goals to others, you
are unique, and what other people need may be different.
Know that it’s okay to ask yourself what you truly need, lean in, and listen hard-just like you
would for your child. Are there things you used to enjoy that you put off for a while?
Some ideas of self-care activities are;
- Take a long bath
- Read a book (even just a chapter!)
- Meet with a friend for coffee/lunch
- Start a self-gratitude journal of the things you are thankful for
- Practice mindfulness, and enjoying the present moment, with yourself, taking breathing
- Go for a walk, spend time in nature, or just step outside
- Take a nap! Sleep deprivation can lead to mental and physical ailments, so fit this in
when you can (this may be difficult, but take the opportunity to nap when baby does)
- Find a new hobby!
Feeling emotional after having a baby is normal, but having increased feelings of anxiety,
ruminating thoughts or intense feelings of sadness or loss of interest are all signs of perinatal
mood disorders, which can all be treated with a combined regimen, including therapy.
YOU matter, and self-care and time for yourself is important! If you are finding that your
mental health is conflicting with the ability to care for self, there is help available!
Kala Gattuso, APSW