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April 15, 2022

Montessori Parenting: Self Care with a Newborn

Taking care of a newborn is hard work no matter what parenting method is grounding your decisions. Whether you are using Montessori, or taking a more traditional route, adjusting to a new baby is physically and mentally draining. During this time it can be easy to ignore your own needs in favor of the baby's. And while newborn babies do need prompt attention to all their needs, we also need to make time to take care of ourselves. As the old saying goes, we cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Before I share some of what I do to take care of myself postpartum, I want to acknowledge that I have some privilege here. I have an incredible husband who wholeheartedly supports me. I also have the means to access additional resources if I need them. The US, in particular, needs better resources for new parents in general. Access to better affordable mental healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, and even cultural supports that normalize the need for a network of support following birth. 

Other than a week or two of meals from generous family and friends and a couple of days off of work for Morgan, I do not have additional help in welcoming a new baby. I also want to say that I'm no expert when it comes to self care. Like not even a little. I'm pretty good at putting my needs last, and I'm sure I'm not alone here. 

I also know that some of you are going to think "these suggestion aren't self care, they are basic tasks." Feel free to feel that way, but you don't need to share those feelings with me. I've had people say that to me in the past and basically if it feels like self care to me, I'm calling it self care. There is a whole industry out there that suggests the only appropriate self care is facials, massages, fancy whatevers. That's not reality for most of us. Simple, small graces toward ourselves often feel more like self care to many new moms. What self care looks and feels like is going to be different for all of us.

Self Care with a Newborn Baby 

Here are some of the ways that I practice self care when I have a newborn:
  • Prioritize Sleep. I goto sleep as soon as Penelope goes down in the evening. If that means I'm in bed at 7, I'm in bed at 7. If it's not until 11, then I'm ready to sleep. Catch those early sleeps. This means missing some alone time in the evenings, but I feel better and know life is better if I can maximize the sleep early. 
  • Flexibility. Before baby, post dinner baths are/were my jam. Now? Maybe I take a long bath in the morning while Morgan is home or maybe it's mid-afternoon. Maybe its a face mask after a shower. Basically sneak the time when there is time, like a newborn, it's all over the place. Get comfortable with weird random time to yourself. 
  • Prioritize Convenience. Heck yes, I've been eating fancy prepackaged snacks. Yes, I've been feeding some meals on paper plates. Things that make other aspects of my life easier means that I have more time to slow down and focus on me or Penelope. I know it won't be forever, but during this time I let go of some of the guilt around cutting corners. 
  • Outside help. I make a point of taking care of my body with outside help. I've made and kept doctor appointments. I've sought chiropractic and acupuncture care during this time. I take a few minutes to stretch when I can. I try to remind myself that the physical work doesn't stop when the baby is born, but my body is still working hard to grow this little human. 

Here are a few things I avoid during this time:
  • Doing Everything. I've had to get comfortable saying no or not right now. I let some tasks go around the house - things are getting dusty around here! 
  • Harboring Guilt. Sometimes I'm going to be late. Sometimes I'm not going to get a blog post published when I was anticipating. Guilt doesn't serve me, so letting it go is how I help myself. 
Overall, I'm feeling very good during this time. Physically the postpartum period is much much easier on me than pregnancy. So I have that relief. 5th babies are just also easier (in many ways) than having your first or second baby so I also have that. Taking care of myself is hard work. And, it's work that I often ignore. 

Basically my advice is to sneak it in, know that this period is just temporary, and that you just do the best you can. 

Taking care of a newborn baby is hard work, here are some self care tips from a Montessori parent of five children. Simple postpartum tips for care.

This post is week 10 of my weekly Montessori baby series focusing on Penelope.

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DaynaC said…
Penelope and those cheeks! I just can't even!

Thank you for this post. It's much appreciated. Things I'm thinking about and planning for as I'm rounding out my third trimester.

I didn't do this AT ALL my first post partum period and I suffered for it. I appreciate that your suggestions are simple and doable but still feel like they'll be impactful.