You’ll hear us talk a lot about self-care as doulas. That’s because it’s SUPER important for parents. Whether you’re having your first child or your fifth, managing stress and all that comes with the parenting journey needs to be a priority. We talked with our team of doulas here at Discover Birth to get some of their favourite self-care tips for parents. Take a look below to see if any of these can be added to your routine.

Go for a walk

During your perinatal journey there are going to be moments where you feel overwhelmed. Sometimes going outside for a quick (or long!) walk can be a good way to reset. It gets your body moving and can provide some peace and quiet if the home is feeling too busy. The folks at Harvard wrote about all the benefits of walking you may not be aware of! Things like; boosting your immune system, easing joint pain, and more!

Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal is something we’ve seen work for numerous clients over the years. Having a safe space where you can express your feelings and document the parenting journey makes a real difference. Journaling has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve confidence, and strengthen your memory. There are several different approaches you can take to writing a journal. Maybe you do stream of consciousness where you write down everything that comes to mind. Or you can do a gratitude approach, writing down things you’re thankful for. Or simply write out the day’s events and how you felt about them. Ultimately, it’s YOUR journal so you can mix and match and find an approach that works for your needs.

Sleep

Is there anything more important than sleep? Now of course sleep is easier said than done. Depending on where you are in your journey it may not always be possible to close the door and grab those extra hours of shut eye. The key here is to prioritize sleep when you can. Whether that’s creating an environment at night to help facilitate BETTER sleep (cooler temperature, less screen time before bed…etc) or stealing those 30-minute naps during the day whenever you can. Whatever it is, your body will feel better with more rest. The Sleep Foundation recently shared the 8 benefits of sleep, you can read more about those by clicking here.

Yoga

Yoga can do SO MUCH for you, regardless of where you are at in your perinatal journey. It’s been proven to help with strength, balance, pain relief, stress, sleep, and more! John Hopkins Medicine recently outlined the primary 9 benefits – read those here. Because you can do yoga at any stage of pregnancy and postpartum, it can be a consistent part of your self-care routine. What’s important is that you’re working with a professional to ensure you adjust your yoga poses and flows depending on what you’re capable of doing in the moment. For example, your prenatal and postnatal yoga sessions may look a lot different from each other.

Socialize with Friends

When you’re a new parent it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day. Every day is the exact same routine – hour by hour. And while there is a sense of comfort in mastering that routine and getting used to your new normal, it’s also helpful to get out with friends! Depending on your schedule you may need to find NEW ways of connecting with your social circle. If it’s difficult to leave the home, maybe invite a friend over to connect for coffee in the living room and catch up. Or if you’re tight on time, invite someone to go for a walk around the neighbourhood while you bring the little one in a stroller. Connecting with friends can help offset the isolation that many new parents feel during those first few weeks and months after birth.

Limit Obligations

This can be a REALLY hard one, especially for new parents. There will be a lot of interest in seeing you and the new baby. Which can be a good thing! But it’s crucial that you only take on obligations and plans you can handle. We often tell clients to try and limit responsibilities as much as possible in the early days, weeks, and months of postpartum. This could include having some meals delivered to avoid as much cooking, only having family and friends visit on specific dates/times, hiring help with lawn/garden care for a specific period of time…etc. If you end up wanting to take on more, that’s great! But at least you’re starting from a more manageable baseline.

Read a Book

Is there anything better than escaping into a good book? Much like yoga, reading is a self-care routine you can do anytime. Even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, it’s a chance to read a chapter and catch up with your favourite characters. One tip we always tell clients is to keep a book on you (in a bag or purse) so you have it available. You never know when you’re going to have a bit of time to pass, so having a book at the ready is key!

Therapist

You’re going through a lot of changes during this time. Not just physical changes, but mental and emotional ones as well. It’s a lot to process and even if you feel like you’re doing well, having an extra person to lean on and process these feelings can make a positive difference. Having a therapist to connect with weekly or monthly gives you an outlet to organize your thoughts and feel more in control of your parenting journey. Ideally you can connect with someone that specializes in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Many health plans include coverage for a portion of therapy, so check with your provider to see what your options are.

These are just a small slice of the many self-care options available to parents. What have you found helpful in the past? Make sure to tag us on Instagram and we’ll reshare with the Discover Birth community.