For new mums, the joy of looking after a tiny human comes hand-in-hand with a huge upheaval in almost every aspect of your life.
While your busy tending to your newborn's needs, it's essential to find some time to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing.
Even if it's relaxing for only half an hour while your little one sleeps, it's important you remember to look after yourself, too.
Women's health expert, Dr Hayley Dickinson, BSc (Hons), PhD. was recently involved in the creation of the endota Nurture range of products – a gentle, safe and nasty-free skin and bath time range for mums and bubs. Hayley is also a mother and is committed to her own journey of self-care.
Here are Hayley's top 10 self-care tips for new mums:
Exercise has so many positive health benefits.
1. Go easy on yourself
I believe the single most important thing new mums can do is set themselves reasonable expectations for what can be achieved each day. Most of us have full lives before we have a baby and it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we can just carry on as before. Eventually we can, but in the early days we have other priorities.
Our bodies are healing, and we have another person who we are now responsible for providing minute to minute care and nutrition for. Managing to keep yourselves fed, clean, and well-rested is enough in the beginning.
2. Sleep when baby sleeps…
…because you will be awake when baby is awake and for most families this includes periods during the night. Rest is important for our health throughout our lives, but when our bodies are healing, learning new things and supporting our babies' nutritional needs as well as our own, rest becomes essential for our physical and mental wellbeing.
You might want to try a room spray or mist to encourage positive bedtime routine for you and your new baby for a peaceful, deep sleep. I love using [endota Nurture's Calming Sleep Mist], which is safe to use from birth.
3. Eat well and often.
Good food is essential for new mums, but it's not always easy to eat well. The nutrients we need after birth are greater than at any time during pregnancy, but we can find ourselves with little time or energy for preparing good food as new mums. Before baby is born, prepare some of your favorite dishes, foods you know you'll be excited to reheat and eat, and put them in the freezer. Once baby arrives, ask friends and family to make you good, healthy, nutritious food.
Make sure the fruit bowl is always stocked with your favorite fruits and have a range of healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, instant miso soup, granola and yoghurt on hand. You'll find lots of great recipes and snack ideas for pregnant women and new mums at my website, Eat For Baby.
Enjoy a spa experience at home with the endota Nurture range for mums and bubs.
It's always an important selfcare strategy, but maintaining hydration is essential for supporting your body to heal and to ensure adequate breastmilk production. Hydrate by drinking water. Our skin undergoes a lot of stretching during pregnancy and hydration is key to helping our skin retain its elasticity and to relieve dry and irritated skin.
To assist with skin hydration, choose products which are quickly absorbed into the skin and vitamin rich to help ease dry or itchy skin. endota Nurture's Moisture Rich Belly Butter contains hydrating shea and cocoa butters, as well as nourishing essential argan and rosehip oils to leave skin soft and supple.
There are so many benefits to keeping our bodies moving. Depending on the circumstances of your labour, there may be a period of time where exercise is not advised. Always follow your healthcare providers recommendations. But most women can start gentle walking as soon as they feel ready after birth. Exercise helps your body heal, it restores muscle strength, improves your mood, relieves stress and can help prevent postpartum depression.
6. Ask for help
And say yes to offers of help – people don't offer unless they genuinely want to help you, so you are not being a burden. Take them up on their offers. It's wonderful to have people around who care, let them do it, but be specific about the help you need.
7. Check in on you
Ask yourself each day, "how do I feel today?" Being a new mum is hard, but it's not meant to be so hard you fall apart – be aware of how you feel, if you feel yourself struggling, tell someone, seek support and help.
8. Bond with your baby
Touch, talk and eye contact are the pillars of communication with our babies and should start immediately after birth. Be the one who knows your baby best. Observe their movements, notice their preferences, find the spots on their body that are most sensitive to touch, find the patterns in their behaviors, differentiate between their cries. In being so observant you'll pick up anything new, notice anything suspicious and be in tune with your baby and her needs.
9. Prioritise yourself
Do something just for you once each day – Read, watch, listen, move. Whatever it is, do it for you and shake the guilt and worry. We can only be the best version of ourselves for everyone else when we are looking after ourselves.
10. Relax and enjoy
And finally, remember to enjoy this precious time with your little one. The newborn months are fleeting, and with our time so often spent getting the job done we can't always see the joy that surrounds us.
So, delight in every moment, relish those sweet little cries and delight in those tiny little baby parts. Take it all in. Because all the stages, good and bad, are only stages and that little footprint is getting bigger by the day.