Hey, remember you? That whole person who existed before the baby came along? When you’re in the thick of the newborn stage, it’s really tricky to prioritise your own needs and desires. But a little bit of self-care can go a long way when it comes to maintaining your sanity and self-esteem…
Don’t neglect your wounds
If you had stitches or an episiotomy, you’re going to need to take care of “it”. In fact, however you gave birth, you’re going to need to take care of “it”. Just sloping around the house can make you sore in the early days after giving birth, so use painkillers if you need to, change your pad regularly and try to find time for nice soothing baths – your baby can always join you, it’s lush – once your midwife has said it’s OK (ie. it won’t prematurely dissolve your stitches!). Your bits will be checked over at your 6-8 week check, but any more pressing concerns should be flagged up with your GP or health visitor before that.
Go to bed early
Easier said than done when your baby is a long way off having any kind of routine, but take advantage of any little windows of opportunity that might arise. Make sure your baby is well-fed, pass them your partner’s way for some nice early evening bonding and just lie the hell down. Even if you don’t have a proper sleep and your baby is squawking for yet another feed within half an hour, the rest will do you good.
Squeeze in a shower
You’ll feel way better about everything if you’re clean. If you have the energy, jump in the shower first thing before your partner goes to work. Otherwise, that aforementioned window when they get home is a good opportunity for a quick spritz (you can lie down afterwards and revel in your delicious cleanness). Don’t panic though, you’ll soon suss out a way to shower when it’s just you and your baby. Bouncy chairs and cot mobiles can be a godsend.
Get some air
If you’ve got a c-section scar or painful stitches, or if you’ve had a winter baby and it’s vile outside, or indeed you’re in the middle of a scorching heatwave, it can be tempting to just hole up at home in the early weeks. But getting a bit of fresh air is crucial for your well-being. If you can get to grips with a baby carrier early on, it’s way less faff than having to lug the pram down the road for a five minute stroll.
Eat proper meals
If you were super-organised in the later stages of pregnancy and now have a freezer full of chillis and pies and pasta bakes to work your way through, you’ll now be reaping the benefits. But if you weren’t quite this organised because you naively preferred sitting round watching box-sets and cooing over pictures of baby clothes (us too…), you might need to enlist a bit of help now. Take advantage of any kindly relatives of neighbours bearing casserole dishes (even if it means you have to let them have a quick cuddle with your baby…) and make sure your fruit bowl is as well-stocked as your biscuit tin.
Give yourself a little treat
Use those tiny windows of freedom to your advantage – shave your armpits! Paint your toenails! Pluck your eyebrows! It’s all about the micro-treats, even if you used to just think of them as basic bodily upkeep rather than pampering exercises. It doesn’t have to be physical stuff either, of course – watching your favourite film with your baby asleep on your chest will also get those warm and fuzzy feelings flowing.