Self Care vs Hygiene

Have you ever heard a new Mamma complain that she just needs some self care? Then proceed to talk about a few minutes in the bathroom without being hounded by the kids, or even the chance to take a shower!

Yeah, our definition of Self Care for new moms is out of whack, and this is part of why our mental health is experiencing so many extra challenges.

Defining Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene is usually something you need to do to maintain your body in a healthy way. So that regular shower I meantioned above, yeah, NOT SELF CARE. Especially if it means you are getting yourself clean.

Now don’t get me wrong a long soak in the tub where you can relax is more a self care item. But just getting clean, or listening to your body’s need to use the washroom is decidedly NOT self care.

I’ve seen multiple complaints from new mom’s who “pee when they sneeze” and this is usually answered back from more experienced Mamma’s that it’s “Normal”.

Uuuuuh NO it’s not

Peeing when you sneeze or having random leaks are a sign that something in your body, specifically your pelvis and core, are not working properly.

To learn more about pelvic health check out
Everything You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Health

You may also need to retrain yourself for the potty.

SAY WHAT?!?!

You heard me, and read that again.

I had to re-train myself to toilet as a new Mamma.

WHY?

Because everybody else came first, that’s an oversimplification of the situation. But the essence of what it boils down to.

cat getting wet from water coming down on top of it highlights the need to pay attention to self

I litterally would feel the urge to go, and put it off because baby needed something. Or I figured it could wait, or it didn’t feel urgent enough.

Yeah, 3 years later and I was pregnant again and dealing with all sorts of issues due to my muscle separation that I didn’t even think to meantion that I started leaking again.

Embarasing, YES, and very not normal.

Hygiene – the degree to which people keep themselves or their environment clean, especially to prevent disease

Cambridge Dictionary

I would also add to prevent dysfunction.

Personal Hygiene Tips for new Mammas

Try using a Sitz bath instead of a full shower or bath right after birth. They are quicker, can help you pee with less pain, and aide the healing process post-birth. You can read more about how that works here.

Do a foot soak while baby has a bath, or just get in the tub with baby. Co-Bathing may not give you a mental break, but it keeps kiddo in one spot and gives you a chance to rinse off.

Brush your teeth – at least once a day put baby down and brush your teeth. It can be when baby is sleeping or staring at some dangly toy in their pack-n-play. Just make sure baby is safe.

woman soaking her feet in water with flowers in it

Brush your hair – ummmm, I’m horrible for this one. I think right now I’m brushing my hair like twice a week. But hear me out ok?!?!?! With a baby around your hair styles will likely be simplified, because baby has grabby hands and … OUCH. So a pony tail, or bun seems to be a common answer along side cutting it short.

However, that doesn’t mean it won’t feel good and help your scalp stay healthy if you brush your hair regularly. Just stash a brush somewhere you breastfeed so that when baby is sleeping you can take afew minutes and brush it before they wake up.

Take a shower – this one can be tough if you have a baby that needs to be in arms all the time. What I found worked best was to set baby in a bouncy chair just outside the shower and poke my head around the curtain regularly so baby knew I was there. Bonus points if you cover baby with a t-shirt that smells like you instead of a blanket for warmth.

Eat – I’m not even talking about the most nutritious meals here. But get some food into you regularly. Keep granola bars or fruit where you breatsfeed, and by the bed, the couch etc. Anywhere you find yourself sitting down frequently stash them. And keep some in your purse/baby bag. If you feel a touch hungry, eat.

woman trimming her toe nails as part of her personal hygiene

Trim your Nails – Our toe and finger nails will keep growing no matter what, but it only takes a few short minutes to trim them and it lasts for a while.

Drink lots of water – this is especially important if you breastfeed. Our bodies are made up of a fair amount of water. But we often over look how much we need and even consume things that suck water out of us. So grab some water bottles and fill them up at the start of the day then stash them with your granola bars and fruit.

For more ideas on how to get more water into your day check out my post on easy ways to drink more water.

Rest – I know this doesn’t seem like a way to keep yourself clean but it is just as important to maintaining our bodies. And I don’t mean you need to sleep 20 hours a day. But take a load off, put up your feet and let your body recover. Especially while you are pregnant or newly postpartum this is super important and needs to be done frequently to help your body heal from all that intense work of building and birthing a human.

cat resting in the sun

Defining Self Care…

Self Care on the other hand includes the mind and heart as much as the body.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

PsychCentral

I mean self care is a fairly simple concept and most of us belive that we are doing it well. But chances are we are missing something from it, especially if we are using basic needs like personal hygiene as our only form of self care.

The reality is that self care is more complex and varried than hygiene.

Yet even our personal hygiene as new Mom’s get’s ignored and neglected more often than not.

But the fact of the matter is that we need a more rounded approach to self care.

Exercise – Self Care for me includes daily workouts (check with your doctor for what is right for you first) with OneStrongMamma, right now I’m doing the postpartum program, but during pregnancy, it would be a great idea to go through the pregnancy program they have as well. I plan to do this for my next pregnancy but haven’t had the chance yet.

Doing regular movement like walking and even gentle stretches can help you feel better mentally as well as physically.

woman sitting with a mug taking some time for herself.

Read something fun, for this site I read all the time. But that takes brain power that I don’t have every single day to learn and develop my understanding of what I’m reading. That’s why it’s important to read things just for fun too.

Pray – it’s important to care for our spiritual connection too, so pray and make that connection to god. A daily practice of prayer, like one focused on gratitude can help build up our resilience and help us focus on the positive things in life.

Call a Friend – or family member, the big thing here is connect with someone you trust and have a mutually supportive relationship with. Our men are great and wonderful people. But sometimes you need a girlfriend to give you that extra giggle or peace of mind that what your dealing with is ok.

These are just some of the ways that I practice self care, they are certainly not the only ways to do so.

Self Care vs Hygiene which one is more important?

Neither, they both are critical to maintaining your health. Because our health is impacted by our mental, emotional and physical condition.

The problem I see here is that things like getting basic bathroom breaks are a challenge for new Moms. And we need those not just for the chance to pee, but the mental break of caring for our babies.

After being home with my kids for the last 10 months I can honestly say, that the hardest days were the ones the kids followed me into the bathroom.

WHY?

Because I didn’t get a moment to be myself without also being mom.

And I frequently would burn out

And burn out, or being touched out, is pretty common in motherhood.

And it’s part of our mental health screaming for some TLC. But that needs to come from more than just taking a shower (though that’s a good start).

We need a plan, but first, we need to understand what the heck is happening with our Mamma’s and the importance of their Mental Health.