Whether it’s your first pregnancy or you’re a dab hand, bringing a new baby into the world flips your routine upside down and adds a seemingly endless amount of new responsibilities to your plate. As a society, we tend to support mamas the most during pregnancy, and once the baby is born, all of that energy switches to the baby, which can leave many new moms grappling with how to take care of themselves as well as a child.
Why is self-care something you should prepare for during pregnancy?
The newborn days are a blur for most new parents. Self-care will feel like a buzzword from a past life and it’s unlikely you’ll have the headspace to contemplate what that would even mean in the midst of getting to know your baby and finding your new rhythm. Your child is your new number one priority and everything else seems less important.
However, with all the love and energy that bringing up a baby takes, if you can carve out some small and precious moments to restore your own energy levels, you and your baby will benefit from how it can boost your mood.
Since the early days are a whirlwind of working out what your baby needs, we suggest preparing by adding some easy and simple self-care moments into your day while you’re still pregnant. If you start adding in these rituals in the run up to the birth, they will become habits which are much easier to keep on going once the baby arrives.
Self-care rituals to start during pregnancy and keep going postpartum
Move your body - for at least 10 minutes a day. Do what feels nice for you. That might be a gentle cat cow movement, some pelvic floor exercises and a good downward dog stretch. It could be a daily walk that you build into your routine.
Create a sanctuary. Having a space in your home where you feel safe and able to relax can really help you feel grounded and can be a spot for meditation or unwinding. Make it a cosy nook, with all the hygge vibes, and think about soft lighting, natural light and green plants. It doesn’t need to be big, just a comfy corner where you can pop some headphones in and unwind for 10 minutes.
Try journaling or having daily mantras you listen to. You could use an app which sends you a daily affirmation, or get inspiration from Pinterest (check out pip’s daily mantra board for inspiration) or perhaps you find one which resonates with you and then save it as your phone backdrop. Something simple, reassuring and uplifting to get you through every day. If you enjoy writing, build your journal into your daily routine and try to write a few sentences each day.
Actually get ready for the day. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is the power that getting ready for the day can have on your self-esteem. In the early days of lockdown where comfy clothes or PJs and no makeup ruled, it became crystal clear just how sluggish and not yourself that can make you feel. Throwing a baby into the mix takes it to the next level. Not likely something you’ll be able to process in the first few days, but within the first few weeks, carving out time to have a shower, wash and blow dry your hair and get dressed (even if you’re not going out) will lift your mood and mental wellbeing. It’s not selfish to want to feel confident and happy and although your getting ready routine will be a lot quicker, it will still boost your confidence.
Schedule some beauty appointments while you’re pregnant for the postpartum period. Getting your hair cut and colored before the baby arrives is a lovely way to feel pampered and prepared but it shouldn’t stop once you’re a new mama. We’d recommend booking a hair appointment for the second month after the baby is born in advance. It will be something fun to look forward to and will make you feel more like your ‘old self’. If you normally get manicures or facials - add those back into your life too!
Find ways to laugh. It could be watching some old classic stand ups on YouTube, listening to a podcast or just sharing funny memes with your friends. Try not to take life too seriously postpartum and keep your mindset lighthearted, looking for the funny moments in life as a new parent.
Stay hydrated. Get in the habit of having a water bottle with you at all times. It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re making a baby and just as easy when you’re breastfeeding or nursing. Caffeine is likely still off the menu, so staying hydrated will keep your energy levels up, as well as supporting the healthy growth of your skin and hair condition.
Tips for getting your best hair and skin care postpartum
Throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period, your hormones are going through so many changes - all of which impact your hair and skin. All stages of pregnancy are different for everyone, you won't know until it happens how your hair and skin will change, so start being extra careful with your beauty routine during pregnancy to give yourself the best possible postpartum hair and skin.
We’d suggest setting a goal of trying to keep your hair damage free. Avoid heat styling tools as much as you can and always have a heat protector on your hair to ensure it doesn't overheat or burn. Avoid brushing your hair when it’s wet (and definitely use a gentle comb or tangle teezer) and try to resist pulling your hair back too tightly. This will help get your hair in the best condition for once the baby arrives and for a few months after when you might experience postpartum hair loss.
You can think of caring for your skin and hair in similar ways. Your scalp is an extension of your skin, so treat your hair just as good as you treat your skin. Body brushing is a great way to help with water retention and gently brushing your hair every day will encourage microcirculation, stimulate the scalp, and help distribute your natural oils through to your mid-lengths and ends. A clean scalp and face will make it easier for your hair to hair and your skin will more likely be blemish free. Try combining a weekly scalp cleansing scrub and hair mask with an exfoliating cleanser and face mask. Intensive treatments can be a quick and instant way to add a hit of hydration.
Nutrition is key. Think of this as beauty and self-care from the inside out. Nutrition and diet plays a huge role in the health of your hair and skin, the energy levels you have, and of course happiness. Eating lots of fresh protein, oily fish or nuts, fruit and vegetables (especially those with iron) as well as yogurts and milk will ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your hair and skin need for strong, shiny strands.
If you have hormonal hair loss or acne, it is vital to keep using treatments (we’d recommend those free from hormone disruptors) and following a routine consistently and don’t expect immediate results. With hair care especially, since it takes so long for the results to be visible compared to skin care, it’s easy to give up or try something new before you’re able to see whether it is working for you. After about 3-4 months, you should start to see baby hair re-growth though - so stay patient!