Self Care For New Mums After Pregnancy and Birth

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It's no surprise that self-care is incredibly important in motherhood. However, it is one of the hardest things to achieve and navigate in the early mothering season. I hope this article reconnects you to the importance of self-care and provides some creative ideas that make tending to yourself feel more effortless and impactful. 

As a doula, I have cared for countless women at all different stages of motherhood, and I've seen time after time that when the relationship to self is tended to, there is always a positive ripple effect out into their lives. Unfortunately, the modern demands of parenting usually mean the mother is the first person to be forgotten. I, and many others working in the parenthood space, dream of another way where mothers' needs aren't forgotten and left until 'later'. We are working towards a near future where we collectively believe that when a primary carer is nourished and supported, the whole family is happier and healthier. 

I take a holistic approach to self-care, which goes beyond the more surface-level approach we typically see promoted these days. In this article, I have broken down this notion of self-care into body, mind, and spirit to reveal three areas that require frequent nourishment to sustain a healthy, regulated parent.

So, let's get into it. If you get pulled away by your little one, save this article for later. You may like to revisit this piece multiple times over the next few years as some tips/tools may seem more attainable than others at different seasons of the parenthood experience. After reading this, I hope you take one small step towards caring for yourself in the week and share it with another parent you know who needs a reminder to prioritise themselves. Here's to a supported motherhood!



Our bodies reach peak physical endurance through pregnancy and birth. Postpartum is a time to prioritise a slow recovery and proper nourishment to replenish and heal. We now know that how we care for a woman's body in the first 42 days after birth can dictate the next 42 years of her health. Practising rest in a culture that prioritises productivity is a massive act of rebellion, and this can be incredibly hard to commit to today. However, when we understand WHY it is essential, we are more likely to commit to it.

The 5-5-5 rule is a great starting place—five days in the bed, five days on the bed, five days near the bed. Talk to your partner/family about how they can support you to do this with your new baby. You will likely need to revisit this practice of rest many times during the first three years of your child's life, so finding acceptance and compassion for yourself within rest will be the best thing for you all.

Telling new mums to 'sleep when the baby sleeps' isn't entirely helpful; however, getting quality (not quantity) sleep is paramount to recovering well. I encourage you to practice good sleep hygiene and introduce a nighttime routine for yourself alongside Bub. This might mean limiting screen time before bed, having a hot shower or reading a book to unwind before sleep time. 

Body Love

Caring for our physical bodies in a bath, a mini facial or self-massage can be incredibly satiating and easy to achieve. It takes a little effort, a lot of kindness, and a few extra minutes before you hop into bed, which can boost your oxytocin levels (oxytocin is our love and connection hormone). The key here is the intention behind the action. We often do our skincare without even thinking about what we're doing. So, my tip here is to slow it down.

Take a breath, be present and enjoy applying the face cream or rubbing oil into your belly or shoulders. Think kind thoughts as you nourish your body with touch. You may even like to create a 'self-care kit' that sits beside your bed or in your breastfeeding basket. It may include some body oil, some essential oils, a hand cream, a little massage or gua sha tool and/or heat pack that you can easily access when feeding or contact napping. It's all about taking the moments that are there for us in the everyday mundanity of parenting - I call it 'stealing moments' because it's not always easy, but you have to choose to take them actively. 


Nourishing our bodies with food that supports recovery healing and aids digestion is one of the biggest acts of self-love. So often, when we are underslept and overwhelmed, we reach for ease rather than what will support us throughout our day. This usually looks like cold toast or leftovers from the toddler - not precisely nutritious and filling! In the early postpartum stages, slow-cooked and easy-to-digest foods are the table for our healing bodies.

This is because our bodies use most of our energy for recovery and produce breast milk instead of digesting our meals. A great idea is to stock your freezer before the baby's arrival so you know you have meals ready when hunger strikes! Other ideas include arranging a meal train with your friends and family, booking a meal delivery service, or engaging a postpartum doula who can cook meals for you! You won't regret ensuring your body is amply fueled to ensure you can care for your little family for the months to come and restore essential nutrients you expended in pregnancy. 



We must be conscious and considerate of how vulnerable we are in the early weeks after having a baby. Our capacity for change is massive as our brains rewire and recompute to our new lives and roles. It gets VERY noisy as a new mum, and as helpful as education and information can be, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming. Everyone wants to offer their two cents, but that's not always the most helpful thing as we try to figure out our way with our baby.

Something that immensely helped me was the "two voices" approach. Choose two trusted mothers/parents you respect and have similar values with, and go to them when you need advice. This keeps the advice streamlined and aligned with the parent you aspire to be. The ability to quieten the noise, hold loving boundaries and reconnect to the parent you are is a massive act of self-love and self-commitment. 


As new parents, we too are learning, changing and growing within the season of motherhood, and we deserve to be met with compassion, kindness and grace - especially from ourselves. It can be hard to stay on top of those inner thoughts, so it can be helpful to use daily affirmations, journal out our feelings, keep a gratitude journal and use breathwork or meditation to reconnect to our centre. We must constantly permit ourselves to care for ourselves even when it's hard, not especially when it's hard. "Taking care of yourself doesn't mean me first; it means me too. L.R. Knost"


Nourishing our emotional and mental well-being alone is nearly impossible. We must have safe spaces to express our emotions authentically. That may be with your partner, other mothers or trusted family members. The hormonal roller coaster is a big one after giving birth, and we must be given space to communicate our thoughts and feelings as we make sense of our new identities and experiences. You may even like to express yourself through painting, dancing, singing or drawing if finding the words is tricky. Allowing our feelings to come up is a massive act of self-love as it validates the bigness of this monumental transition. 



As new parents, we are naturally social beings due to all the oxytocin in our bodies, making us hardwired for connection. We need others more than ever in this season of life. When you feel ready, make a point to connect with other mothers in your community. Having others who are moving through similar challenges helps normalise our experiences and makes us feel less alone.


Sitting outside in the sunshine, planting your feet on the ground outside, or going for a short walk can be incredibly uplifting for your spirit. Leaning on the simple pleasures of mother nature is inexpensive, accessible for most of us, and relatively easy with a baby in tow. Sometimes, a change of scenery is exactly what we need to reset and recenter ourselves amid the demands of mothering. 


Prioritising our daily joy is one of the most impactful and effective ways to care for ourselves. It could be a coffee in bed, five minutes of gentle stretches, eye gazing with your new baby, talking to a friend on the phone, reading a few pages of a non-parenting book, or even cuddling with your partner before bed. Connecting to what brings us joy and cultivating a moment for it each day proves we are tuned in to our needs and allowing that self-care. You may be surprised that what used to bring you joy no longer does and that there are things you now enjoy doing that you once did not. We are meeting new parts of ourselves in this new role, so be curious and follow your gut. 

One of my favourite quotes is, "Don't push 'self-care' on someone when they need community care", and I wanted to note it in this article. Parenting is one of the most taxing and intense parts of the human experience. If feeling like self-care is entirely outside your capacity, it may be time to get that community involved (especially if you're newly postpartum). This can look like paid support (psychologist/childcare/cleaner/doula/GP), free support (hotlines, community programs, social groups), or calling on friends and family for extra care and support. Asking for help can be the most significant act of self-care possible. 

PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) 1300 726 306
Lifeline 13 11 14
COPE (center of perinatal excellence) 1300 740 398


About the Author 
Charlotte Squires (the Living Doula) is a mother, doula, space holder, educator and meaning maker. She is a talented nurturer who has dedicated her life to supporting, uplifting and cheering on women in many different arenas. She is based on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria; however, she works with women and families from all over the world.

Intagram: @thelivingdoula

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