New mothers are some of the most exhausted people on the planet. If you’ve ever tried to soothe a crying baby while functioning on three hours of sleep, you’ll know how tiring those first few months can be.
Everyone needs some time to themselves, but when you’re busy looking after a newborn baby, it can often feel like your own needs come last.
That’s why it’s important to consciously plan pockets of relaxation. With planning and prioritising, new mums can find 15 minutes to factor in self-care on a regular basis.
Here are some simple things you can do at home while your baby is settled, to feel more restored, refreshed and valuable.
1. Run a bath
Bubble baths aren’t just a super relaxing indulgence – they can also help to soothe aches and pains during the post-birth recovery process.
Ask a friend, family member or partner to keep an eye on your little one so you can set aside half an hour a week to enjoy a well-earned soak. Stock up on some indulgent bath bombs, salts and melts to make your time in the tub that extra little bit more special.
2. Gentle YouTube yoga
After birth, it’s not unusual to experience a weakened pelvic floor, aching muscles and diastasis recti (separated stomach muscles).
While it’s best to wait for six weeks and check with your doctor before starting any kind of post-birth workout routine, some gentle stretches can help you to feel more comfortable in your own skin, while strengthening your core and kegel muscles.
3. Relax with aromatherapy
Essential oils are made from essences naturally found in flowers, leaves, roots, peel, resin, seeds and bark.
Some studies have suggested that breathing in the vapour of essential oils can boost and enhance wellbeing, making them a lovely holistic practice for new mums.
You can add essential oils to a diffuser while you’re breastfeeding, pop a few drops into an oil burner or dilute them with a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil) and self-massage them into your skin. Some of the most popular oils for new mums include tea tree, rosemary and relaxing lavender.
4. Keep a diary
Studies have found that writing down our thoughts and feelings can help to improve our mental health, and with more than one in 10 women affected by postnatal depression, this can be a vital tool for new mothers.
Setting aside 10 minutes per day to put pen to paper can help you to better make sense of the overwhelming changes that come with starting a new phase of life.
If you’re really short on time, you could even just write down one thing per day that you’re grateful for – whether it’s an extra 10 minutes in bed or your baby’s first smile.
5. Read some short stories or poetry
Getting stuck into a good book can be difficult when you’re a new mama. When you’re running on such little sleep, it’s hard to remember what happened earlier in the day, let alone the complex plot of a bestseller.
That’s why collections of short stories and poetry are great. You can consume one or two in the pockets of time when your baby is sleeping, and not feel like you’re playing catch up every time you pick them up.
6. Give yourself a mani-pedi
Giving yourself a fresh set of nails is a really easy way to feel instantly better in your post-baby body.
If you’ve spent weeks permanently wearing a dressing gown, with no time to brush your hair or apply mascara, it’s a simple touch that can do wonders for your mental health.
There are loads of nail art and manicure tutorials on YouTube that you can follow at home. No expensive salon appointment necessary.
7. Start making plans for later in the year
Whether it’s booking the trip of a lifetime once your baby is a bit older, planning in a spa weekend with your friends or even just scheduling in a haircut, getting some plans in the diary for a few months down the line can give you some ‘me time’ perks to look forward to.
Everyone’s version of self-care looks different, so prioritise the activities that you know are guaranteed to make you feel great – even if that’s just having a day to simply lie on the sofa, watch Netflix and do nothing. You deserve it.