Self-Care Tips for New Parents

By: Dr. Maria Cerino - July 8, 2024 - 11 Minute Read

Self-Care Tips for New Parents | The Milky Box

Becoming a parent is undoubtedly one of the most life-altering experiences you can have. It flips your world upside down; there is no denying it. It requires a lot of adaptation, patience, support, and vulnerability.

In today’s article, we’re going to discuss some of the tried and true self-care strategies so you can keep taking care of your mental health during such a transitional time in your life.

Is it Normal to Struggle with Self-Care as A New Mom?

Struggling with self-care as a new mom is completely normal. It’s as natural as feeling pain when you are ill or feeling heat when you’re near an open flame. Having a baby is an experience that will change your life’s rhythm and will demand time and commitment. 

You will experience physical pain, emotional stress, confusion, excitement, and the imminent rise of a challenge you have never faced before. This will naturally displace some of your self-care rituals.

While it is normal to feel this way, you will find yourself craving comfort. Finding the right time to pamper yourself will feel challenging, but there are some great things you can do to give yourself the attention you need.

Prioritize Self-Care during Pregnancy and Postpartum | The Milky Box

Understanding the Challenges New Parents Face

To take appropriate action, you need to be aware of the specific challenges you and your partner will face during these times.

There will be physical changes in the mother: pain, difficulty moving around, tiredness, changes in body shape and size. Emotional changes will be present in both parents: sadness, confusion, stress, fear, anxiety, and depression. Post Partum Depression is present in about 6-20% of new mothers.

Sleep deprivation will be a big stressor during this time too, as your baby will not sleep through the night during the first few months. Social isolation will also play a huge role, as you will have to skip out on many regular social engagements. Many parents describe this experience as alienating and will often feel intense feelings of joy from simple interactions such as chatting with a neighbor for a few minutes outside.

All in all, it’s a combination of factors that many of us haven’t experienced before. It needs to be taken seriously, and this period will require a lot of coordination between parents and caretakers to facilitate self-care time.

Understanding the Challenges New Parents Face | The Milky Box

How Can I Find Time For Self-Care With A New Baby?

Juggling a routine can feel like a circus act when you're a new parent, especially with a little one who hasn't quite figured out the whole sleep thing yet. A newborn comes with so many new responsibilities that it will become, in many ways, just like a full-time job. Teamwork will be the key to getting some self-care windows during the day.

There's a trick to it: find a day and time that usually gives you a breather, and make that your self-care sanctuary.

Here's an idea: Maybe your baby nods off around 4 p.m., and your partner's around to be on call for a couple of hours. Bingo! Mark that spot on your calendar as your self-care exclusive time. 

By snagging these moments and claiming them for yourself, you can sneak in some much-needed quality time with yourself amidst the baby chaos. It doesn’t have to be consistent with the exact time of the day, but it has to be consistent with its frequency.

Find Time for Self-Care | The Milky Box

What If I Feel Guilty Taking Time For Myself?

Guilt is, by far, one of the most common barriers to self-care. Many parents feel that taking time for themselves is unfair to their children or that they should be “on” all the time. This is normal and only speaks to how much commitment you feel for your baby.

A way to overcome this feeling is to recognize that your body and mind need to be in a state of well-being so that you can give your baby the best attention possible. The better you feel, the easier it will be to care for your baby.

What if I Feel Guilty? | The Milky Box

What if I Don't Have The Resources to Access Self-Care Services?

We know that many parents don’t have access to services that may be more costly, such as massages, group classes, and therapy. While it is unfortunate that less than a quarter of parents can access these services, there are other activities that parents can partake in to treat themselves. Let’s look at starting a list of completely free self-care ideas.

Free Self-Care Ideas | The Milky Box

Self-Care Challenges

We recognize that committing to self-care isn’t an easy task. It takes a lot of strength, boundaries, and communication. It is also not a “fix-all” cure, as conditions such as post-partum depression require professional help.

However, small actions can contribute to your overall well-being. In the next few paragraphs, we will give you a rundown of the tried-and-true self-care actions many parents love.

 Self-Care | The Milky Box

Prioritizing Rest and Sleep

Sleep deprivation is one of parenthood’s biggest challenges. For some parents, it takes them years to fall back into a normal sleeping routine.

Making rest and sleep a priority for new parents can be a game-changer. Our favorite strategy is developing a sleep routine that suits you and your little one. 

That might mean catching some Z's when the baby nods off, going to bed way too early or passing the nighttime baton to a partner, family member, or trusted friend. 

It's all about finding what works best for you and your baby, so you both wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

Importance of Rest and Sleep | The Milky Box

Take Care of Your Body

When discussing self-care, it’s easy to think about nurturing our minds only. To release stress, fight depression, and find ways to keep anxiety at bay. However, a big part of staying and feeling healthy involves taking care of our physical form.

Healthy Eating is Key

During recovery, your body needs protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals to heal. 

Here are our top favorite tips:

● Freezer route: Many moms opt to cook and freeze meals before their due date, making sure to label them so they can be reheated in the oven without any cooking involved.

● Grocery delivery: Getting your groceries delivered to your doorstep is a great way to ensure you always have fresh produce at hand.

● Crockpot time: Your slow cooker can be your best friend during these trying times. Most of the widely available crockpot recipes online involve just putting all your ingredients in, closing the lid, and enjoying it a few hours later.

● Rely on your partner: This is where teamwork comes to shine. You can let them take the stress off your day by letting them take charge of dinner. Whether they are great cooks or choose to make a simple meal, not worrying about menus and dishes will make you feel better.

As always, it’s important to remember that there is no shame in relying on comfort foods now and then. There is nothing wrong with finishing a heavy day with a tasty treat.

Move Your Body

Another significant way to take care of your body is to exercise. Even taking a 20-minute walk with your stroller will release some accumulated tension, provide time to clear your head, and enjoy the seasons. If you take it slow, you will incorporate this self-care time into your day.

Exercise | The Milky Box

Increase Your Water Intake

Staying hydrated is key, too. If you are nursing, you are using a lot more water than your body is used to in your milk production. 

Nowadays, thermoses such as Stanleys are popular; it’s easier to keep track of them. You can fill one up, add some ice and some cut-up cucumber for flavor, and enjoy it throughout the day.

Remember that a nursing mom needs about sixteen cups of water every single day to make up for the water used in their milk. Experts recommend drinking a glass of water for every feeding or pump. This is an easy way to not get behind on your water consumption.

Stay Hydrated! | The Milky Box

Self-Care Ideas for Moms

Now that we’ve covered the bases, we’re going to dive into some of our readers’ favorite self-care activities. These activities should help you de-stress, occupy your mind with something stimulating, and regain a sense of control over the activities you choose to do. 

Explore a New Hobby

These are some of our ideas, but you are, of course, free to continue your previous hobbies or try some new ones.

Take a Day Off Social Media

Let’s face it: most times, social media manages to cause us more harm than good. Watching everyone partying, traveling the world, and enjoying what seems to be a perfect life can be damaging, especially when you are at home at three in the morning, nursing your newborn.

Some moms swear by staying off social media for a few months after giving birth and focusing on watching TV or reading books instead. We don’t encourage any rash changes, but if this feels good for you, then by all means, go for it. 

It’s a great way to stay in the present and not fall into the comparison trap.

Social Media Self Care | The Milky Box

Rid Yourself of Mom Chaos

Allow yourself the freedom to release the pressure of chaos. It becomes impossible to face when we try to do everything at once. When the weight of the world feels heavy on your shoulders, opt for food delivery instead of slaving over a fancy meal, let the laundry pile up and the dishes stay where they are, and give yourself a pass on responding to emails or scrolling through social media. 

Remember, everything will still be waiting for you in an hour or even tomorrow.

If you need to take a break, do so. It will be okay. A good thing you can do to help you organize is to do a brain dump on a notebook or your notes app. You will simply list everything you must do in no particular order. This will help you visualize, feel more at ease, and be able to distribute the work accordingly.

Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier For a Distraction-Free Cup of Coffee

They say life is composed of small, significant moments, and it’s no wonder this tip is key to taking care of yourself. It is kind to yourself to start your day with a few minutes of quiet time.

Brew your coffee or your favorite tea, and just sit in silence for a few minutes. Try not to scroll through your phone or engage with any media (music, television). Don’t journal, don’t meditate. 

Just be. It’s an ideal way to get that much-needed silence and peace that will help you stay in connection with yourself, therefore increasing your feeling of self-worth.

Good Morning! | The Milky Box

Lastly, Assemble Your Village

After the first few weeks of motherhood, when you need to be alone with your family pass, it will get a little lonely. Reach out to your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors. Most of your loved ones will happily donate their time or resources for a few baby snuggles. They understand how difficult it is, and having a strong support network will be your savior during these times.

Let your in-laws bring dinner over when close friends volunteer to cook for you, accept their generous offer. You can ask them to walk your dog. Your best friend from work may offer to bring you treats and chit-chat about work drama. Let your partner, friends or family members help feed your baby. Let them help, lean on them These moments will keep you feeling connected to your life outside your baby. It’s how you keep feeling like yourself.

Good Morning! | The Milky Box

In Conclusion…

Becoming a new parent is one of the most difficult moments in the human experience. It requires a lot of adaptation, hard work, communication, and teamwork. While your baby will become the center of your universe, you still need to take care of yourself. 

Keeping your mental health in check and your body healthy and relying on your relationships will ensure that you are in the best state to provide care for your baby. While guilt for taking some time for yourself may come, you must learn to recognize that you, too, need to be cared for. 

For any parenting needs, don’t forget to check out The Milky Blog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are support groups recommended for new parents?

Yes. There are many ways you can find support. Some people prefer online groups, while others like to go the in-person route. 

They both offer therapeutic support in the symptoms of isolation anxiety and depression, plus they are a great place to discuss your biggest concerns and insecurities and feel supported. No matter what type you choose, the most important quality is that you feel comfortable and happy in it. 

How can I overcome feelings of shame for taking self-care time?

A good way to deal with these feelings is by seeking support from your loved ones. Talking to them, and hearing them reassure you of the importance of taking care of yourself can do wonders for your feelings of guilt. 

What is the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?

The symptoms differ in severity and duration. Baby blues occur for a few hours each day and should disappear within fourteen days after delivery. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can occur within four weeks to several months after childbirth and can last up to a year.

Will our baby change our relationship?

Yes. Your baby can bring you closer. It is a life you have created together, and it is upon you to create a home that will nourish their childhood, but they also will add stress due to new responsibilities. 

You will have less time for each other. Open communication, understanding, and shared responsibilities can help maintain a healthy relationship.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Dr. Maria Cerino is a medical doctor and a researcher from Mexico, her works being published in prestigious journals like the American Journal of Human Biology among others. As a medical writer, Dr. Cerino focuses on infant nutrition and healthy neurological development in infants and children. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, watching indie films, and cooking at home.

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Reviewed by Suzanne Renee',

Infant Nutrition Expert

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent.

Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full-time writer on the subject. 

In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, and going to church.