Woman having "me time"

Why it’s so important to prioritize self-care as a mother

When your new baby arrives, your life changes in an instant. Your role as a mom takes priority as you work to keep this brand-new human alive. Especially in the early weeks and months, the importance and urgency of your baby’s needs makes it easy to put your own self-care on the back burner. Add social media with its pressure for perfection and constant comparison game, and it can be tough to find your own rhythm.

But it’s so important for moms to prioritize their own mental and physical health during that crazy, beautiful first year of their baby’s life. You want to be the best mom you can be: taking care of yourself ensures you’re at your best for your little one.

Here are four reasons why “me time” is so important—and tips for making it happen

Self-care helps you stay healthy

Yes, the newborn days are survival mode, but the definition of survival mode requires keeping your health as a top focus, not pushing your body to the point of burn-out. Stress and sleep deprivation can affect your milk output and mastitis risk, not to mention weaken your ability to fight off illnesses. If you’re feeling sick and your supply takes a hit, that will also affect your ability to care for your baby. “Me time” in the form of a hot cup of coffee, a 30-minute nap or a few minutes alone in peace can do wonders for your stress and energy levels.

Self-care keeps you in touch with YOU as a person

While being a mom is an amazing new experience, you’re still a person—an individual with your own needs and interests. Carving out time for what you like to do—whether that’s reading, painting or taking long bubble baths—brings you back to the person you were (and are!) before you became a mom. It can provide a much-needed boost of confidence during a time when you’re still finding your footing as a parent. And that short break from the day-to-day to-dos will give you renewed energy for all you take on in life.

Self-care allows you to nurture your relationships

Self-care doesn’t mean you have to be by yourself. Your relationships with your partner, extended family and friends are important parts of who you are and what brings you joy. Time with your partner gives you an opportunity to check in on how things are going, both as parents and as people, so you can support one another and keep your relationship strong as you navigate this big transition to parenthood. And girls’ nights are a chance to reconnect, vent and have some fun. Connecting with other adults feeds your emotional needs and provides essential social interaction with people who know you as more than Mom.

Self-care provides a foundation when everything is changing

When you can’t control all the changes that are happening, go back to the basics: nutritious food, hydration, rest, fresh air. Treat yourself like you would treat your child, and take care of those physical needs as non-negotiables. Your body has also gone through tremendous changes and done incredible things, bringing new life into the world and sustaining that life. “Me time” is a chance to give yourself grace and show yourself love—something every mom needs and deserves. It is a time to pull back and see the bigger picture, recognizing that this is all new, this is a learning process and in time, you will find your groove.

How to make it happen and make it meaningful

So how do you find time for self-care? It won’t be a perfect process, and you might have to adjust as you go. Get started with our top tips for making time for you:

  • Sit down with your partner and set aside time for the two of you, as well as time for yourself. Add it to the calendar, just like you would your baby’s pediatrician appointment.
  • Enlist the help of a grandparent, good friend or babysitter if needed. People want to support and help you—and they sure wouldn’t mind a few baby snuggles.
  • Let go of the housework (or outsource it!), get your groceries delivered, order takeout, do whatever it takes to open up some free time.
  • Stash a couple of bags of breastmilk in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about your baby being hungry. Toss your pump in your tote if you’ll be skipping a feeding.
  • Put your phone down and be present during your “me time.” These moments are precious so soak them up!
  • Leave that mom guilt at the door. Self-care is not selfish. By taking care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of your baby.

What your “me time” looks like will depend on what refreshes your spirit. Find what works best for you and your family, but no matter what, make self-care a priority. You’re important, mama! Here at Ashland Health, our team of moms understands how hard it is to get that time to yourself. We can provide the tools you need (everything from a breast pump to a sleep coach) to support this crucial form of self-care.