Self care is the process of forming healthy habits and making positive changes to your daily routine in order to sustain and improve your emotional and physical health; helping you feel ready to take on your parental responsibilities.
Though extremely necessary, self care is often neglected by women in the perinatal period, especially after giving birth, when your focus is mainly on taking care of the needs of your baby and the family at large.
Applications of Self Care:
Nutrition: A balanced diet is very important to promote your health and supply you with the energy needed to care for you and your new baby. Know that what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and ultimately, your mood.
Exercise: Multiple studies exercise – even in small amounts – can boost confidence about your inner abilities and outer appearance, decrease worry and the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
Sleep: Sleep deprivation is an inevitable part of having a baby. We forget – or ignore – the biological necessity of sleep. Studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
Social Support: One of the most important predictors of whether a mother develops maternal anxiety or depression is the lack of social support. Having a partner, mother, close friend or professional care will help counter effects of depression or anxiety.
Taking time out for oneself: Engaging in pleasurable activities that focuses solely on your needs and wants such as reading a book, going for a long walk, taking in a movie or grabbing lunch with friends.
Mind-Body techniques have been shown to help in reducing stress and improving the overall symptoms of maternal anxiety and depression in women. Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises may also help to increase your baby’s birth weight and reduce pre-term births.
Sadly, barriers such as the lack of time, limited income and difficulty accepting help, prevents the most well informed parent, from practicing effective self care.