Self-care is a buzzword in all circles lately, including those for Christian women and moms. It can feel superficial, overwhelming, and self-centered, all at once. It can also feel refreshing, restful, and abundant. Much of this depends on the way you approach caring for yourself, what season you are in, and how you view it.
For mothers who have just recently had a baby, self-care in the postpartum period is a topic of concern. (The postpartum period extends through the first year of baby’s life and beyond – some sources even argue that the first three years should be included in this season, so toddler moms count, too!)
Many of us tend to focus on the new baby, but what about mom? We often forget about ourselves and throw everything we have into caring for new life, but we must not sacrifice our own well-being in the process. Self-care as a postpartum mom is not superficial; it is a necessity.
Postpartum is a very unique and personal period that should be honored and approached with care. This is often called the “fourth trimester” – a fragile time when a woman’s body recovers from the marathon that is childbirth, no matter the type of birth she had. Newborns don’t come with instructions, and neither does postpartum care. You can heed all the advice in the world, yet nobody will ever walk through what you are personally walking through – with your own experiences, personality, and individual child. This is a time in a woman’s life that is brand new and unique each time she walks through it with each baby.
Typical ways women prepare for postpartum include having the nursery and baby’s needs met beforehand, as well as lining up meals. Yet new mothers often forget about themselves once baby arrives and are busy caring for their family and new little member.
Be assured that everything you are experiencing – whether it’s changes in your body, healing with stitches, hormonal imbalance – or things baby is going through, such as quick variation of diapers, cluster feeding, spitting up – is all normal for postpartum. As with anything, if you are flustered and feel unsure of what’s going on, do not hesitate to seek professional help for you or your baby.
Self care for a postpartum mom includes the emotional, physical, and spiritual support needed for her recovery. Postpartum moms can benefit from breastfeeding support, housekeeping and errand runners, meal services, care for siblings, and personal recommendations to community resources such as parenting classes, support groups, and pediatricians. There are so many ways to come alongside Christian women in their postpartum period and there are many places to reach out for help.