When our favorite "Parks and Recreation” characters Tom and Donna endorsed extreme self-care, coining the term “treat yo'self” back in 2011, millennials latched on to the concept and ran with it. From weekly massages, $250 haircuts and mindfulness meditation retreats in Bali, to smaller, sometimes free, investments like crystal-infused bath soaks, macrobiotic smoothie bowls, journaling and yoga, we’ve realized the value in taking a holistic approach to self-care.
Older generations may call it self-indulgence, but we’re sensitive to the world and understand that we can only be our best selves if we’re nourishing our minds and bodies. And for millennial moms-to-be, self-care is more important than ever.
Being pregnant is exciting, powerful and miraculous in a life-changing, supernatural kind of way. But it’s also overwhelming, stressful, sometimes scary and — whether you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned one — a brand-new experience that is unique to you. Thanks to hormones that affect both your mind and body, pregnancy is literally ALL THE FEELS.
Developing a self-care practice through my first pregnancy has allowed me to surrender to the ebb and flow of this incredible process, stay connected to myself and my baby and minimize stress to create a safe and healthy space for her to grow. But with so much pressure to be the perfect mom, self-care can be hard to navigate.
There are obvious ways to practice self-care like eating well, getting plenty of rest, maintaining your exercise routine and seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist who specializes in prenatal care — all of which can be incredibly helpful. And then there are things you’ll learn by paying closer attention to what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. These three practices are what made the biggest difference for me:
Avoid information overload
Women were giving birth long before the internet and by now we’re pros at it. There’s no rule that says you must consume every book, podcast and birth video to ensure you’re doing everything “right.” With so much information available — much of which isn’t consistent — it’s easy to stress out. So cut back on your research. After experiencing pregnancy-preparedness-burnout myself, I made a rule to consult my doctor about specific questions, read the one book recommended to me by my doula and leave the rest up to my own intuition.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparing yourself to other moms, especially Instagram moms (you know the ones: 17.8K followers, perfectly styled, afford-ers of $1,000 cribs and 19 different baby wraps) will only make you feel inadequate or give you a bad case of FOMO. Regardless of whether you choose to birth naturally or an epidural, have a perfectly coordinated boho chic nursery or develop an extreme ice-cream sandwich habit (like I did), remember to trust yourself: You were made to do this.
Make time to tune in
Create a ritual (or several!) to help you tune in to your mind, body and baby. Keep a journal to record and make sense of the new thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing and track your physical changes. Sign up for a prenatal yoga class; I found the camaraderie just as meaningful as the physical exercise and loved the opportunity to check in with my body. Take a nightly walk or warm bath and use this time to talk to your baby, self-reflect and be in the moment.
So, put your phone down, focus on your actual needs instead of the ones imposed on you by others, be kind to yourself and enjoy it. You got this, mama.