By Guest Blogger, Krista Maltais PCD(DONA), CLC, B.S. Family Studies.
“In the day-to-day grind of it all, it’s easy to get stuck thinking, “the day is too short, the to-do list is too long, and gosh darn it, people need me!”. This is especially true for parents. But, in order to take care of others, you have to first take care of yourself. “
I begin this blog while at an airport returning from the first vacation I have had in years. As I sit here waiting for the plane to depart, I can’t help but reflect on the necessity of taking care of one self.
In the day-to-day grind of it all, it’s easy to get stuck thinking, “the day is too short, the to-do list is too long, and gosh darn it, people need me!”. This is especially true for parents. But I have learned, and this vacation has re-inforced, that in order to take care of others, you have to first take care of yourself.
As a postpartum doula and lactation counselor, I see how burned out new parents, especially new mothers, can get when they go-go-go and try to take everything on themselves. There is only so long that level of intensity (and the adrenaline that fuels the intensity) can sustain itself before stress, fatigue, or full-on exhaustion, shows itself. It may reveal itself in emotional outbursts, illness, accidents, or physical pain.
Amongst the daily tasks of parenting, it can be difficult to remember to eat and shower let alone remember how crucial it is to recharge. However, taking care of one’s self doesn’t have to mean a full week’s vacation (although, I highly recommend it!). Self-care can, and should, be found in a daily routine. Here are some ideas to try and incorporate into your life:
- Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply helps move your body out of fight-or-flight mode and into the relaxation response and has been proven to help combat fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
- Eat nutritious small meals and snacks throughout the day and drink to thirst. Set up snack bags and water bottlesin the places you spend the most time (in the living room, next to your nursing chair, in the car, etc). A hungry parent cannot fully function, may become short tempered, and is less likely to deal with parenting tasks/challenges calmly.
- Exercise and socialize. Moving your body helps reduce stress and has numerous health benefits as does socializing with family and friends. It’s easy to combine the two by going for a walk with your spouse or signing up for a new exercise group with friends. As a bonus, there are many parent-baby exercise classes available in our area which may make this easier to accomplish.
- Go for regular body work. Parenting is emotionally and physically demanding. It may seem difficult to schedule an appointment amongst the busyness of the day, but having proper physical care through chiropractic and/or massage will make it easier to sustain the tasks of parenting.
- Ask for help. This is especially important for spouses to remember! Communicate as openly and honestly as possible about how you are feeling and what you want/need. People are usually willing to offer a helping hand and may feel more comfortable taking an active role if told specifics. Don’t have family or friends close by or don’t feel comfortable asking? See the next suggestion…
- Hire professional support. Certified postpartum doulas are trained to know what new parents want/need. Do you just want a long, hot shower, and a nap? No problem! However, postpartum doulas can also offer education about newborn care techniques, mother care, partner and sibling adjustment, early childhood development, postpartum mood disorders, breast and bottle feeding as well as coping skills. Want something warm to eat that you didn’t have to prepare? Sure! Postpartum doulas can also assist with your family’s daily needs such as organizing the home, running errands and providing additional local resources. Are you breastfeeding? A certified lactation counselor can provide personalized breastfeeding assessment and support to ensure pain-free and successful nursing experiences in the privacy of your home. There are all kinds of professionals out there to help you – house cleaners, dog walkers, landscapers, etc! Just ask!
The airplane’s safety announcement has just come on. The flight attendant has checked our safety belts and is telling us that in the event of an emergency, air masks may drop and that you must always put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. How true. It’s not easy and sometimes it can feel selfish to take care of yourself, but the earlier and more regularly you incorporate self-care measures into your life, the easier and healthier your life will be.
About the Author:
About Healing Hands Chiropractic:
Healing Hands Chiropractic is a full-service family wellness center specializing in Webster certified prenatal & family chiropractic care, acupuncture, cognitive-behavioral therapy, reiki & aromatherapy, massage therapy, pregnancy & birth classes and breastfeeding support.