New mom holding her baby

5 New Mom Self-Care Practices for the Fourth Trimester

Posted by Hello Postpartum on

Self-care while recovering from birth looks different than any other time, but it's just as - if not more - critical than before.

The importance of self-care as a new mom

New moms often hear about the importance of self-care, but what does it mean, especially in the fourth trimester? 

This period is about adjustment – you’re getting to know your baby, your body is healing, and you’re on a learning curve like no other. Self-care is not about bubble baths and face masks; it’s about caring for your physical, emotional, and mental health

It’s essential for replenishing your energy so you can be the best for your baby (and, most importantly, yourself.)

Think of it like this: airplanes instruct you to wear your oxygen mask before helping others. The same goes for motherhood. New mom self-care is critical.

Taking care of yourself ensures you have the strength and well-being to care for your little one. Ignoring your needs can lead to burnout, resentment, and even postpartum depression. 

Simple actions, whether a 5-minute meditation, a short walk, or just enjoying a hot cup of tea, can make a massive difference in your day.

Self-care also means asking for help when needed and understanding that doing so doesn’t make you less of a mom. Whether it’s your partner, family, or friends, leaning on your support system can give you much-needed breaks and the chance to recharge. 

Remember, taking care of yourself isn’t selfish—it’s necessary. You’re setting a solid foundation for your family’s future by caring for yourself.

As a new mom and self-care author, I know just how critical self-care is. I also know it looks different in this stage of life (postpartum) than in any other. Every little thing you do to care for yourself matters right now, and you should be proud of any commitment you can make.

New mom self-care practices

Prioritize rest and sleep

Honor your nutritional needs

Incorporate gentle movement

Care for your mental health

Establish a support system

Practice #1: Prioritize rest and sleep

After giving birth, your body needs to heal and recover. That’s why getting enough rest and sleep should be at the top of your list. It sounds simple, but with a newborn, sleep can feel like a luxury you can’t afford. 

Personally, I know that sleep deprivation is a huge trigger for my anxiety. With my second baby, I made sure I prioritized rest as much as I could in the early days, which included:

  • Supplementing with formula to skip nighttime pumps
  • Handing off baby sleep as much as I could
  • Asking family to be around the first few weeks (a luxury in itself!)
  • Taking naps as often as possible

Here’s the deal - your sleep is important. It's critical.

Try not to worry about the dishes or laundry. They can wait. Ask someone else to do it, or put it off as long as you can. It's not your turn to carry the household load (if that's something you usually shoulder).

If you’re too wired to sleep, then lie down and rest your body at least. Short naps can do wonders for your mood and energy levels. 

Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s necessary. So, shut the door, put on some comfy PJs, and get as much sleep as you can. It's amazing what just a few minutes can do. 

Your body will thank you, and you’ll be in a better position to care for your little one (and protect your mental health, too).

Our new mom self-care picks

Practice #2: Honor your nutritional needs

Eating right is non-negotiable for new moms. Your body just did something amazing—it built and birthed a human. Now, it needs fuel to recover and to make milk if you’re breastfeeding.

Focus on eating protein-rich foods, healthy fats, cooked or stewed vegetables, and make sure you're drinking enough water.

Read more: What You Should Eat After Birth (and Why)

These foods pack nutrients and help with healing. Remember iron and calcium; your body craves them, especially after childbirth. 

Hydration is also key. You’re going to feel like a walking desert, especially if you’re nursing. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

Skip the junk food. It’s tempting, we get it, but it won’t help your energy levels. And lastly, listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat. Your body’s smart and knows what it needs.

Practice #3: Incorporate gentle movement

Getting active again after having a baby may not be the first thing on your mind, but it’s vital to your recovery.

It’s not about hitting the gym hard but finding gentle, safe exercises to help your body heal and regain strength. Walking is a perfect start. You can gradually increase your pace and distance as you feel more comfortable.

Personally, I found diaphragmatic breathing to be beneficial, especially during my C-section recovery. It was a gentle way to engage my core, strengthen my muscles, and maintain my current posture while healing.

Yoga and Pilates can also offer great benefits for strengthening your core and improving flexibility, which is crucial after childbirth.

Remember, it's essential to listen to your body and not push it too hard. Staying hydrated, eating nourishing food, and getting enough rest is vital to your recovery and physical activity plan.

You’ll boost not only your physical health but your mental well-being, too.

Practice #4: Care for your mental health

Taking care of your emotional well-being and seeking mental health support is crucial, especially in the fourth trimester. It’s a time of immense change and adjustment, not just for your body but also for your mind. 

Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or just not like your usual self is common for a short amount of time. If this lasts more than two weeks after birth, it's recommended to reach out to a professional for support.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

Start with open conversations about your feelings with your partner, friends, or family. It’s essential to communicate and not bottle up emotions. If things seem too heavy, seeking professional help can be a game-changer. 

A therapist specialized in postnatal care can provide the support and tools you need to navigate this period.

Connecting with other new moms can also be incredibly uplifting. There are plenty of local and online support groups where you can share experiences and advice. Knowing you’re not alone in your feelings can make a huge difference.

Finally, make time for activities that boost your mental health. Whether it’s a short walk, reading a book, or practicing mindfulness and meditation, find what works for you and do it regularly. 

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so give it the attention it deserves.

Practice #5: Establish a support system

Building a support system is crucial for new moms in the fourth trimester. You’re not meant to handle everything alone

Your network can be family, friends, or even a new moms’ group. These people can offer hands-on help and advice or just be there to listen. 

Don’t shy away from asking for help. Whether it’s needing someone to watch the baby for a couple of hours, help with household chores, or just need an ear, reach out

Online forums and local community centers are also great spots to find support. 

Remember: It’s strong, not weak, to ask for help. This network is not just for the tough days. Celebrate the good moments with them too. They’re part of your journey.

Balancing new mom duties and self-care

New moms, listen up. Balancing caring for your baby and taking care of yourself isn’t selfish—it’s necessary. 

Imagine trying to pour from an empty cup. Doesn’t work, right? That’s you trying to care for your baby without recharging. Here’s how to keep that balance. 

  • First, snag moments for self-care. Nap when the baby naps—let what can wait until later wait until later.
  • Second, eat well. Between warm meals, grab nutritious, easy snacks, such as fruits, nuts, and yogurt.
  • Third, hydrate. Drink plenty of water. Feel better, think clearer. 
  • Fourth, move your body. A walk with the baby or light yoga at home does wonders. 
  • Lastly, lean on your support system. Ask for help when you need it. No guilt. This balance isn’t just good for you; it’s great for your baby too. 

Happy mom, happy baby. At least, that's the idea, right?

Practical tips for every day self-care as a new mom

It’s key for new moms to weave self-care into their daily lives, but it might seem like there’s just no time. 

Here’s the deal: self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s necessary. 

Tip #1: Start small 

Think of activities that fit into your day without causing stress. 

Then, keep a water bottle close, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Your body needs it. 

Next, fresh air does wonders. A short walk with the baby can boost your mood. If going outside feels like a mission, simply standing on your balcony or by an open window works too.

Tip #2: Prioritize eating and sleeping

Remember to eat well. It’s easy to forget meals when you’re focused on your little one. 

Keep healthy snacks like nuts or fruit within reach. Anything protein-rich and easy will help your recovery and energy levels.

And sleep – yes, it sounds like a joke, but grabbing a nap when your baby sleeps is golden. It might not be a full 8 hours, but every little bit helps.

Tip #3: Don't forget to talk to other adults

Lastly, connect. Talk to friends, join a new moms group, or just text someone. Keeping in touch with others reminds you that you’re not alone. 

These small acts of self-care might seem simple, but they’re powerful. 

By fitting them into your day, you’re not only looking after your health, but you’re also teaching your child the importance of self-care from the start.

Final thoughts and encouragement for new moms

New moms, hear this – the fourth trimester is hard. Really hard. But amidst the sleepless nights and endless diapers, it’s crucial to care for yourself too. 

You’ve just performed a miracle; your body and mind deserve attention and healing. 

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. Don’t shrug off that urge to rest or ignore the need to nourish your body just because your little one demands your constant attention. 

Think of it this way - taking care of yourself is actually a part of taking care of your baby. When you’re well, you’re more equipped to care for your baby. 

So, amidst the whirlwind of new motherhood, make self-care a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Trust us, it’ll make a world of difference for both you and your baby. 

Let this be a gentle reminder that it’s okay to pause, breathe, and give yourself the care you deserve.

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