7 Self-Care Tips for New Mamas

Baby Thaddeus RahalAs a new mama, you may feel the need to become a martyr to the cause of Motherhood– running ragged from no sleep, skipping showers for days on end, and jumping to attention at every baby sigh and cry. Yes, your baby needs constant care and attention, but so do you! Your physical and emotional health matter, and if you start neglecting your personal needs, you will see that lack of self-care unleasantly manifest in other parts of your life. Take care of yourself. You matter. 

(Not a new mama? Share these tips with a mom-to-be!)

#1: Sleep

You need your Zzz’s. Take them while you can! A quick cat nap here and there while baby is sleeping will do wonders. You’re probably going to be up every 1-3 hours during the night; so take advantage of the daytime naps when possible. (And student mamas, remember that Title IX allows for excused absences when recovering from childbirth.)

#2: Shower

No, I’m not kidding. Shower. I’ve heard this over and over again from new and veteran moms who lament that they are regularly skipping out on that sprinkle of bliss and solitude. Ladies, take back your shower time! If you have a newborn, that baby is going to be napping regularly throughout the day. Put her in a safe sleeping spot like her bassinet or crib, and take 5-15 minutes to refresh. If you have a baby monitor, bring it in the bathroom and turn up the volume, or simply set a timer on your phone to make sure that you are in and out in a reasonable time. If you feel nervous about leaving your baby out-of-sight, place her in a secure carseat, bassinet, or bouncer in the bathroom. It’s okay if she wakes up and cries. She’s within sight, and you will be with her in a moment.

#3: Get out

Whether it’s a quick trip to grab a coffee or a light stroll around campus, get out of your dorm or apartment. Fresh air and the company of others will do wonders. Beth and Baby in CarrierText a friend to meet up for a cup of coffee or some other sweet treat. You may have only 20-30 minutes, but it will be a nice break seeing another adult. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you will get the hang of it. Pack up that sweet baby, and go!

#4: Treat yourself

The first few weeks and months of that post-baby body are awkward and sometimes discouraging. It took 9 months for that baby to stretch you out; so it’s going to take some time to adjust. In the meantime, it can help to treat yourself to a little beauty pick-me-up. Take 5-10 minutes to put on fresh make-up. (You are gorgeous, Mama!) Go out and buy a couple new outfits that you feel beautiful and confident in. Ask your partner or family member to watch the baby to go get a hair cut.

#5: Let others help you

You do not have to be supermom. You just have to be mom. Loving, caring mom. No superpowers required. If your friends or family offer to bring food, accept it. If they offer to hold that delightfully screaming baby, let them. If they say “Go out I can watch the baby.”– go. You are allowed a break. You don’t have to do this alone. (Hint: If you have a Students for Life group on campus, they may be available to babysit for free.)

#6: Make the time

So you may be looking at #1-5 and thinking “Yup. Nope. Not happening!” And I don’t blame you. Sleeping?!!? Showering!?! GOING OUT!?! It sounds too good to be true! Now, hold your eye roll for a moment, and let me tell you this– It is possible. (*gasp*) Like most things, it’s all about prioritizing your time and embracing realistic expectations and outcomes. You can shower. You can put on make up. You can go out for a quick treat or even a whole meal if you make the time and commit to doing it. Baby may cry. Maybe she’ll poop all over that cute tutu. Maybe you’ll end up sitting in your car in a parking lot hugging your fresh cup of coffee while baby sleeps in the backseat. Allow yourself the time to do the little things that make you feel like “you” again.

#7: Trust your instincts

Beth Rahal and Teddy- TBTBy now, you’ve probably witnessed or experienced the ever dreaded “mommy wars.” These battles of petty and sometimes downright mean comments about others’ parenting decisions can be a real killjoy! It’s funny how everyone seems to ha
ve something to say– even the non-parents! Trust yourself. Don’t become consumed and worried over others’ criticism. You know what is right for you and your baby, and you (more than anyone) will be able to pick up on your baby’s signs and needs. If you’re not sure or doubting yourself, ask your doctor or pediatrician, your mom, or even another mom for advice. Go online or pick up a parenting book. Pause. Take a deep breath. You’ll do fine.

 

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. The images used in this post are the property of Beth Rahal. If you would like to contribute to the Pregnant on Campus website blog, email Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org

 

 

 

Nausea, fatigue, pregnancy struggles: We have tips for you!

PregnMorning Sicknessancy is tough on the body, and some days, it feels so much easier to stay in bed than to force yourself up for class. But girl, you can do this. These classes are one step closer to your degree, and your hard work will be worth it!

Now, today may be tough, but you can plan and prepare to make tomorrow better. Check out these tips and try a few! You got this.

Treat your body well

Morning sickness (or all day nausea!) can be incredibly frustrating and interfere with your efforts to get to class, focus on your assignments, or simply keep any food down. If you are really struggling, you can talk to your doctor about ways to manage the symptoms. In the meantime, you can take measures to treat your body well and reduce some of your pregnancy symptoms and reactions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Eat often and eat well: Pack your purse or bag with quick snacks (e.g. crackers, trail mix, granola bars) to snack on during the day. Even more importantly, get in good, nutritional meals. You may choose to switch to 5 smaller meals rather than the standard breakfast-lunch-dinner trio.
  • Night-time snacks: Keep some light snacks (e.g. crackers or trail mix) next to your bed. If you wake up hungry, grab a quick snack instead of stumbling to the fridge to binge on Ben & Jerry’s! A snack first thing in the morning may also help relieve your morning sickness– or it will at least get something in your belly (post-gross-morning-toilet-hugging) that won’t return to haunt you later.
  • Hydrate all day, every day: Pack water bottles (or even your favorite sports drink) in your purse or school bag to drink throughout the day. This will keep you well hydrated and hopefully relieve some nausea and dizziness. Refill and restock after classes so that you are ready for the next day.
  • Sweet treats: Your classmates may not realize just how bad they smell post-workout or be conscious of the potency of their lunch. A fresh peppermint, piece of gum, or sucker candy can help distract you from the smells and avoid a dramatic sprint to the nearest bin.

Schedule your time well

The first trimester- and even the second trimester- can be especially tough on mamas. Most women feel fatigued in the first trimester, and many will experience nausea, heightened sense of smell, frequent urination, breathlessness, and all that other good stuff. (So much fun, right?!) While good nutrition, sleep, and hydration may help with some of these issues, you can also schedule your time to make the days and tasks more manageable:

  • Opt for flexible class options:  If available, schedule online classes and even night classes to help spread out your classes to accommodate for more naps, snack breaks, etc. Talk to the school registrar or professor(s) about transferring to another class option (e.g. online or another time) if your semester is already underway.
  • Buffer room: Make sure that you give yourself a good amount of time before class (or work) to deal with the inevitable pregnancy dilemmas (e.g. morning sickness). A little extra morning time will allow you that extra 30 minutes or even an hour to start the day off better. Get up slowly, eat, and let the nausea subside a little before rushing off to your first class. Set several alarms if you need to!
  • Pomodoro Technique: For class assignments, try the Pomodoro Technique. This method utilizes bursts of productivity and quick breaks to stay focused. It’s perfect for a tired mama who needs extra snacks and bathroom breaks! First, take 10-15 minutes to plan what steps you need to take to get your assignment done. (Example: For a paper, you might need to do an outline, research, write, create a bibliography, and review.) Break it down. Schedule time blocks of 20-25 minutes of totally focused work– knocking out each step rather than multitasking. After each block, take a 5 minute break to get up, stretch, snack, etc. Repeat, repeat, repeat until done!

Ask about class accommodations

Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability. If you are experiencing difficult or even debilitating pregnancy symptoms, you may be able to receive special classroom and exam accommodations. Contact a representative from your school’s Office of Student Disabilities or Student Accessibility Services to discuss your options. You may be required to present a doctor’s note (if the school requires other disabled students to present similar verifications).

  • Appropriate Accommodations: Depending on your condition, you may be allowed such accommodations as permission to snack during class, permission to get up and use the bathroom frequently, extended exam times, a separate exam time with added break allowances, or even a larger desk to accommodate your baby belly (See The Pregnant Scholar handout here.)
  • You are excused: Remember, necessary pregnancy-related absences are excused regardless of the professor’s or school’s classroom attendance policies. Review your Title IX rights so that you can protect yourself from classroom discrimination, and contact your advisor or Title IX Coordinator to address issues.

Rest, rest, and rest some more

Prioritize your health. While it is so easy to waste time on Netflix or on social media, you need to rest. Look at your schedule and find times where you can sneak in some extra Zzz’s, and plan your days accordingly so that you get to bed.

  • Not-so-sneaky power naps: Hey, there is no shame in taking a little power nap! You’re growing a human– you deserve a nap! Find a quiet space in the library or an empty couch. Set an alarm so that you don’t pass out for too long! You might even want to pack a travel pillow or a sweatshirt to fold and rest on.
  • Get to bed early: Yes, Netflix and internet surfing can seem appealing after a long day of waddling around campus. But trust me, you need all the Zzzz’s you can get! Plan a reasonable bedtime (whether that be 9:30pm or 11pm), and stick to it. Netflix can wait.

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. For assistance finding pregnancy and parenting resources on campus, contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org. For other tips on balancing college and parenthood, please see: “Practical Advice for Student Moms.”