Self-care before and after pregnancy

Self-care. It’s the wellness buzzword of recent years. Self-care is anything that we do with the purpose of improving our mental, physical, and emotional health. It can range from taking a shower to going for a run, to making time for friends and family. It’s going to look different for everyone. While it’s important to take care of yourself in all stages of your life, self-care should be a priority while you’re pregnant and in those first few months after you give birth. It’s akin to the cliché of putting your oxygen mask on first on a plane before you help anyone else; you need to take care of yourself and all your varying needs to be better able to care for others.

You go through so many changes during this time – your body is changing, your identity is shifting, your emotions are raw. Practicing self-care during this time may be more deliberate, purposeful, and necessary to ensure that you positively adjust to this major change in your life.

With all the changes that are happening to your body and hormones, you won’t always have the energy or ability to do the things you used to do before you were pregnant.

If self-care before your pregnancy involved long distance runs, intense weight training, or other vigorous physical activity, you’ll need to adjust what exercise looks like for you. At times, it may just be an easy walk – and accepting that this is okay and still beneficial.

Know that it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions during pregnancy and postpartum. The hormones that your body is producing are going to cause you to feel a lot of things, and feel in ways that may be uncomfortable – sadness, anger, frustration. It is normal to have these feelings but if they are intense or persistent, talk to your family doctor or a mental health professional.

Here are ideas for self-care of your mental and emotional health to consider during your pregnancy:

Try to manage your stress
Don’t take on too much – the changes you’re going through can be exhausting, so adding on more responsibilities at home or work may be difficult. Set boundaries and learn to say “no” to people or obligations that would cause stress.

Be mindful of your physical health
Exercise when you can and to your ability. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. These things not only help your body but your mind and mood as well.

Connect with others and talk to them about what you’re going through
Bringing a baby into the world is a big deal. Talk to the people around you, your friends, family and your doctor, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Make time to rest
Whether it’s an afternoon nap or just taking time to relax on the couch, rest is very important during this time.

After your baby is born, self-care is going to look quite different. In the first few weeks and months, your body will be in recovery mode, so you may have to re-evaluate and adjust what exercise looks like for you. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, even mild physical activity for short periods of time is still improving your overall health.

Your daily routine will most likely change a lot when you have a baby. In the first few months, much of your time will be dedicated to taking care of your baby. This can interrupt your regular sleep routine and patterns. Practice self-acceptance during this time – it’s okay to sleep when baby sleeps, it’s okay to feel all the emotions you’re feeling.

If you are having negative feelings after you give birth, and those feelings are lasting longer than a few weeks or are getting stronger, reach out for help. Your family doctor is always a good start. Calgary Counselling Centre is also a great resource if you need to talk about what you’re going through – It’s better not to wait, if you’re having negative feelings, reach out for help right away. The sooner you get help the better and faster results you’re likely to get. At Calgary Counselling Centre we have no wait list, and there are no financial barriers. Everyone can get the help they need when they need it.