Giving birth to your little one signals a new chapter in your parenthood journey. But in many ways, it’s also a return to getting to know yourself again — this time, through the lens of motherhood.
However, a lot of mothers find it difficult to jump back into their old life, and it’s not just because of the bodily changes (although that does play a huge role). The past nine months have been all about preparing for your baby’s arrival, which means that moments of genuine self-care — where you were only thinking about yourself — were probably few and far between.
Read on below for some tips on how to get yourself back on track after giving birth:
Check in with your mental health
Perhaps the first and most vital tip on this list is to take stock of your mental health. The Office on Women’s Health notes that mood swings are common after giving birth, listing symptoms like irritability, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Having these symptoms last for two weeks or longer may be a sign of postpartum depression, which can make your post-pregnancy adjustment even more difficult. Take a moment to ask yourself how you’re doing, and do yourself a favor and don’t try to shove any negativeness under the rug.
Instead, acknowledge what you’re feeling so you can take actionable steps.
After all, our bodies undergo so much change during pregnancy, but you only really notice the effects after giving birth. And while it’s normal to feel a little insecure about these changes, you should also take the time to celebrate the amazing miracle that your body was able to do.
Pick up a creative hobby
On the subject of celebrating your body’s accomplishments, why not pick up a creative hobby? Whether it’s sketching or collaging baby photos, it’s good to remind yourself that your body can also help you make beautiful artistic pieces. The Spruce’s list of decorative painting techniques shows that painting your wall is not only a creative booster but also a good way to get your body moving.
Sketching or journaling is another way to exercise your creative faculties and reflect on your journey thus far. You can use this time to chronicle how you’re feeling; a good practice could be taking at least five minutes of sketching or journaling time to write down things about yourself that you’re thankful for.
Find your own personal style
The rise of body-positive retailers does away with traditional sizing in order to embrace women’s bodies in all forms, which is great for post-pregnancy moms who are acquainting themselves with their new physical forms. The button-down shirt on Woman Within is made from breathable cotton – in fact, the inclusive brand’s entire range is built around basics that suit any body type. Universal Standard is another brand whose ranges focus on the basics, making it easy to create a capsule wardrobe.
You may have relied on a rotating set of old tees and sweatpants during your pregnancy, but it’s worth taking the time to dress up. Model Ashley Graham has been spotted donning her baby bump in everything from Vex Clothing’s latex dress to a dotted Tommy Hilfiger number, proving that style and mom bodies are a match made in heaven.
Slowly get back into exercise
Whether you’re a seasoned fitness buff or an exercise newbie, postpartum fitness is all about taking it slow and rediscovering how your body likes to move. Going hard right away makes you very susceptible to injuries, and you may also get discouraged if you find that your fitness level has dropped in those nine months. Good Housekeeping suggests swimming as an easy exercise to get into, as you can slowly raise your heart rate by varying up your tempo (but taking it slow provides a good workout, too).
If water sports aren’t your thing, Pilates is another option which can be done anywhere with minimal equipment. There are lots of fitness diagrams and videos built around Pilates and bodyweight exercises, allowing you to take 15-minutes of your day for a quick sweat session.
Parenting expert Nancy Bardacke has developed the concept of mindful baby holding. This practice is akin to meditation, where you really zone in and focus on how you and your baby are feeling. Not only does this practice put you in touch with your body, it also helps you form a stronger emotional connection with your baby.
Bardacke emphasizes the importance of your breathing; focusing on slowly inhaling and exhaling to calm your body down. This also makes it easier to tune in with your body and see how it feels to carry your baby, whether you’re sitting down or standing up.
Taking care of yourself after a pregnancy is key to becoming a good parent for your child, as it gives you clear headspace and a positive sense of self-esteem. Being patient with yourself and understanding the changes your body goes through is important, and is something to always keep in mind throughout your post-pregnancy journey.