Self Care: Why It’s So Important For Maternal Mental Health

Self-care

Self-care can often feel like a buzzword these days with as much as it gets thrown around. While it’s a good thing that more people are taking it seriously, its popularity has also caused some confusion. Self-care doesn’t have to involve something expensive or luxurious. It also isn’t selfish. At its very core, self-care is the act of doing something (ideally each day) to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve mental health.

For mothers and expecting mothers, self-care is more important than ever. You probably already spend a decent amount of time focusing on your physical well-being—especially if you’re pregnant. But, are you carving out time to truly take care of yourself? Let’s dive a little deeper into why it’s so important.

Managing Your Mental Health

It’s not uncommon for new mothers to experience the “baby blues,” or for some to struggle with Postpartum Depression. Even during your pregnancy, you might feel stressed, overwhelmed, or down about your situation if it isn’t everything you thought it would be.

Unfortunately, these mental health issues can make it harder to give your mind and body the care they deserve, and it can even take away from your care for your child.

Carving out time for self-care each day will help to reduce the stressors in your life, and can make you feel more like yourself again. While conditions like Postpartum Depression typically go away on their own after a period of time, if you already were susceptible to depression, other forms of it may return if you don’t choose to actively manage your mental health.

The Struggle of Self-Care as a Parent

Once you have a little one, you might think it’s next to impossible to find a few extra minutes in the day for self-care. That’s why it’s even more important to prioritize it and understand fully what self-care really looks like. Finding even ten minutes a day to do something you enjoy can help you feel more relaxed and energized to keep going.

Self-care looks different for everyone. What reduces your stress now, might not be the same things you enjoyed even a year ago. So, don’t be afraid to try different things until you discover what works for you. Some ideas for making “me time” a priority include

Yoga

  • Exercising
  • Reading a good book 
  • Journaling
  • Cooking a healthy meal
  • Enjoying a cup of tea
  • Meditate 

Start small with your self-care endeavors. The last thing you want is to start doing something only to have it get cut short because of a busy schedule or because the baby needs something. If you’re really struggling to find some extra time in the day, consider asking for help. Explain to your partner, a family member, or a friend that you need more “me time,” and someone will undoubtedly step in so you can find that relaxation.

Refilling Your Cup

You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Taking care of your maternal mental health is a perfect example of that. As a mother, you might feel like everything is on your shoulders. You’re taking care of everyone else, trying to give your children the best possible life, or just preparing for the arrival of a new baby. But, you truly can’t pour from an empty cup.

When you’re depleted, overwhelmed, and stressed out, you’re not going to be the kind of mother (or person) you want to be. It’ll be easy to get burnt out, which can negatively affect your physical and mental health. One reason managing your mental health is so important is so you can take care of others. Keep these ideas in mind to make self-care a priority, and let go of the idea that it’s selfish.