Postpartum baby blues can hit hard, and in those moments when they do, it’s useful to have some helpful strategies at the ready.
Personally it was the fatigue that got to me. Before baby I had a handful of everyday tools to help me deal with mild anxiety and depression – like yoga, cooking a meal beginning to end, chats with loved ones, and journalling. All lovely, effective self-care activities but throw in caring for a new baby, mastering breastfeeding, waking up all hours of the night…the thought of going to a $25 yoga class and then making Julia Child’s beef bourguignon was laughable!
During this time I decided to double-down on easy, quick mindfulness techniques that I could do at home on an everyday basis.
A good friend with two littles of her own had given me a tub of Trader Joe’s lavender salt scrub (oh so scrumptious smelling, btw) at my baby shower, along with some sage advice:
“When you don’t have time or money for hour long massages anymore, this in the shower is the next best thing.”
I am happy to say that she was totally right, and it was metaphorically accurate for the rest of “relaxing while mothering”!
Mindfulness, for me and many others, is a practical way of recharging your battery as a postpartum mama. The struggle during this time can be extra frustrating because there has never been a time where you needed self-care more, and never been a time where you had less time and energy for self-care!
Practicing mindfulness frequently can really help a tired, slightly anxious or depressed postpartum mama.
Mindfulness can bring you back down to earth when you’re overwhelmed with thoughts of what could or should be. It can quickly and simply step on the brake when you are caught up in circuitous, unhealthy thoughts. Mindfulness can even help you become more relaxed, happy, and productive in other areas of life simply because your battery has a chance to recharge.
I keep stressing the simple part about mindfulness techniques because ways to recharge should be easy to build into your new life with baby. No more heavy-handed to-do lists past take care of baby (or babies) and self! After all, we are trying to cut ourselves a break here and relax, right?
Mindfulness was important to me before baby but even more so afterwards, and that’s why this MomScout wants to share some simple ways to practice mindfulness with other moms like you:
- Mindful Walking: Engaging in anything physical is a great idea in the postpartum period, once you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally ready. Burpees and circuit training this is not! Once your doctor or midwife says it’s okay, a long walk will feel great. Those of us with spring/summer babies are lucky, but even if you have a winter baby in a cold climate – mall-walking, here you come! My baby really loved going on walks, and would usually fall asleep during. While she was either looking around or dozing, I’d practice a little mindful walking:
I’d do this by relaxing my shoulders back, tucking in my pelvis, standing up straight, and walking purposefully forwards in tune, roughly, with my breathing. I’d let any thought that came up come up and then would “breathe it out” and leave it behind.
It felt great to move and kind of settle into my body during a time when it was changing so much. My body felt so different what with breastfeeding, postpartum hormonal changes, outward physical changes, etc. and it was centering to experience the familiar physical feeling of a leisurely stroll.
- Engaging the Senses: When we consciously engage a few or all five of the senses (touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste), it’s hard not to come into the present moment. By being in the present, we avoid the could-would thoughts that can oh-so-easily lead to anxiety and discomfort!
There’s countless ways for us moms to engage the senses in pleasing ways, it’s really a matter of jumping in and finding what sensory activities speak to you personally. For me when I was incredibly tired and Dahdah was home to watch babe, it was taking a bath scented with essential oils, lighting a candle to look at, playing a relaxing music station on Spotify – and using that 10-15 minutes to focus on only those things! If you need a bit more guidance, some people like the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Bonus mom power move: when your little is starting to be a bit more active, like 3-4 months, you can play/engage/teach by doing baby-safe sensory-stimulating activities with them too – win-win!
- Connecting with a loved one: This one might not totally be a mindfulness activity but connecting with someone can be a very positive, grounding thing. I know we don’t have a lot of time in this postpartum period but even a quick text or 10-15 minute phone call can lift you out of the daily landslide of diapers and feedings enough to notice the good around you. Now choose wisely! My person is my mom, because talking with her (usually) gives me energy rather than takes it away. Our energy levels usually match up and I know that she can adjust to meet me at mine if need be (she’s cool like that). She can also really, really laugh with me when the proverbial sh*t (and sometimes real [baby] sh*t) hits the fan. Who in your life are your people like this? A friend? A parent? The person could even be your partner – when we’re in a good place, the hubs and I can really share a laugh when things with baby are particularly bad – and it can ultimately bring you closer, sharing in this difficult, life-changing experience together.
Have any particular mindfulness strategies worked for you in the past as a new mom? How are your experiences with mindfulness activities different pre-baby vs. post-baby? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!