fourth trimester, Postpartum, self-care

The Truth about Self-Care after Birth


I stare at the clock as the hour approaches.  The baby is still feeding, for some reason he has chosen to take longer this time.  I still have to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, fold the laundry that is in the dryer and cut up some vegetables for dinner.  But, first I have to figure out how I can get this baby off the breast so that I can make my appointment for my pedicure, my chosen weekly self-care activity.   Ugh this is stressful.  There is so much to do and not enough time.  Self-care has become more stressful than relaxing because I have to do time gymnastics to fit it in to my schedule.  Not only am I having a hard time fitting self-care into my routine, but I also feel guilty when I can’t check it off my to do list. Self-care has left me more frazzled than emboldened.

The fourth trimester is emotionally, mentally and physically challenging. Too often, extraordinary demands are placed on a mom leaving her exhausted and empty. Women lose themselves to the daily obligations of caring for a newborn. Moms feel the pressure to be everything to everyone all while keeping the house clean and organized, cooking healthy meals and taking care of themselves. The quest to keep your cup full while filling every one else’s around you was promised to be solved by the addition of self-care as a routine part of your life. Moms have been preached to about the importance of self-care activities in maintaining a connection with one’s self.

The push for self-care is well intended, but the definition of self-care should be clarified.

Most women think of facials, pedicures and coffee with friends when they think self-care.


While these activities are great and can help recharge a mom struggling to make it through the day, without a change in mindset these self-care activities will become another box to check off the forever-growing to-do list.

Self-care is so much more than pedicures, hair appointments and exercising with a friend.


Self-care is:

  1. Embodying an understanding of your self worth and finding ways to respect it. Self-care involves caring about yourself by accepting your limits.
  2. It is about having the strength to recognize your limits, set boundaries in line with your limits and having a willingness to say “no” even when it means disappointing someone.
  3. It is about letting go of the pride of being busy and the constant struggle for improved efficiency as a mom.
  4. It means removing some of the unnecessary (but often perceived as necessary) items on your to do list.
  5. Self-care is respecting your feelings, thoughts, and personal needs.
  6. It is accepting that letting down others is not failure, but preservation of your self. We all have our limits that are as individual as we are.

We all reach our limits, leaving us exhausted, overwhelmed and empty.

Setting boundaries and saying no may be uncomfortable at first, but as you free up quality time for yourself and family, you will come to realize that boundaries are empowering. Your time will become your own and will be of greater quality. When you are able to accomplish this you will feel fuller than you ever have.

When you take the step to create boundaries and regard your needs as a priority, you will be a better mom, partner, colleague, and friend. That is true self-care.



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