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Mother's Day Special: The ultimate self-care guide for mothers by an expert

Are you paying attention to your nutrition?

While popular culture and the media portrays motherhood as magical, there is no doubt that new mothers have a tough time navigating the tumultuous waters of motherhood. Once a baby is born, caring for the baby becomes central and that leads to neglect of everything else. While catering to the baby's needs are important, it is also necessary for a new mother to take care of herself so that she doesn't end up being exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed and generally burnt out.

Here is a self-care guide that every new mother must aspire to follow:

  • Get adequate rest: Exhaustion and emotional fatigue are important concerns new mothers have to come to terms with. Setting aside time to rest and recharge is of paramount importance to help new mothers come to terms with the changes occurring in their lives. Now, this is easier said than done because babies need round-the-clock care as they are continuously waking up for feeds and cleaning. However, sleeping when the baby is sleeping is a good way to get that much-needed rest, allowing you to feel refreshed.
  • Move around for a bit: While active exercise may not be possible for a while depending on your condition. Getting up and taking a short walk till the end of the road, moving to peppy music on the television, doing stretches and yoga and deep breathing exercises are easy ways for new mothers to clock- in much-needed exercise. This will also help in quicker recovery from the changes of pregnancy and labor.
  • Take note of water consumption: Drinking water regularly and throughout the day is essential for new mothers as they are breastfeeding. Hydration levels are important for the production of breast milk, and staying hydrated helps keep any complications related to the same at bay.
  • Find time for yourself: This is a necessity to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do. Reading a book or a magazine, watching a show on television or even brushing your hair and filing your nails will make you feel better and more on top of things.
  • Pay attention to nutrition: A new mother needs good nutrition to recover and breastfeed. Getting all the important vitamins and food groups incorporated into your daily diet is necessary. Word of caution though, it is better to avoid spicy food at this time.
  • Talk to a friend or a relative: The existence of a broad support system is a must for new mothers. While taking a break from caring for your baby, it is a good idea to pick up the phone and have a chat with someone else. Meet someone for lunch or ask them to join you at home for a chat in order to get some perspective and connect with the world outside.
  • Hygiene while breastfeeding: chances of crust formation is high while breastfeeding. Before and after every feed you should remember to wipe the nipple. Nipple cracks are also something mothers experience. There are ointments you can use to ease this condition; it is also advisable to use hindmilk (the leftover milk from the other breast after feeding) on the cracks to provide relief.
  • De-stress by laughing: Laughter makes everyone feel good and is a great way to fight the postpartum blues. Your hormones are on a spin soon after the delivery and this could lead to depression. Watching a comedy show or reading a funny story would cheer you up and keep you in a positive and chirpy mood all day long.
  • Do not ignore symptoms of depression: Depressive tendencies are not unnatural for new mothers. If you feel low for prolonged periods of time it is a good idea to seek professional help instead of thinking it will go away. If these feelings are ignored they could be harmful to you and the baby. Your physical and mental wellbeing is important, especially when you are maneuvering the maze of motherhood.
  • Connect with your partner in ways other than parenting: Sitting with your partner and talking or watching a movie together, even going out for a small meal and sharing some lighthearted moments together can help bring partners closer together. Take some time out to indulge in activities that both parties would find interesting.
  • Join a community of mothers and discussion forums: These communities and forums are great platforms to carry out discussions pertinent to raising a child. Being a part of a group where other women are in a similar situation will give you the awareness that you are not alone and you also stand to benefit from the tips and experiences shared by other mothers on their respective journey's.
  • Ask for help or hire some paid help: As much as you think you've got everything under control you cannot do everything alone, especially while recovering from pregnancy and labour for help with cleaning the house, laundry, cooking and such other tasks and it is good to have someone else around to pitch in.

By Dr Sapna Lulla, Motherhood Hospital (10 years of experience in obstetrics and gynaecology)

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