Self-Care for Pregnant and Parenting Teens
When you’re a pregnant and parenting teen mom, practicing self-care is challenging, but it’s also important. Your self-care needs are very high, plus you’re busy with a brand new baby, or children, your education, and managing major life changes. Ironically, just when you need self-care the most It’s when it’s most difficult to achieve.
What Does Self-Care Mean?
Self-care is about making sure your physical, emotional, and social needs are being met. It’s about taking care of you, and setting aside time to maintain your wellbeing so you can be the best parent, partner and friend that you can be.
When it comes to self-care, your goal is to:
- Get the sleep you need
- Eat nutritious food
- Get your hair cut
- Wash your clothes
- Change your bedsheets (Fresh sheets smell so good!)
- Have time to reflect and enjoy a quiet moment
- Socialize with friends or family
- Set aside time to work on a hobby, passion, or career
- See your counsellor, the dentist, your doctor—whoever you need to see to stay healthy in mind and body
This sounds so simple… until you’re juggling a baby, job, and finishing your education, and that’s okay. Many people struggle with making time for themselves, and it’s especially difficult for teen parents.
Why is self-care important?
Practicing self-care sets a good example for your children.
If you want your children to sleep well, eat well, take care of themselves, and thrive, they need to see their mom doing these things, too.
Breastfeeding? Your nutrition needs are important.
Drinking enough fluid and eating right is especially important for nursing mothers. Your body will prioritize your baby’s needs over yours, and deplete your nutrition resources to make milk for the baby. If your body is depleted, you have a higher chance of getting sick.
What you need as a mom: Sleep.
How to get what you need: Sleep is one of the most important and most difficult self-care needs to get as a parent. Here are a few possible ways to get more zzz’s:
- Go to bed early: If you can increase the total hours you spend in bed, you may get enough sleep to get you through your day. While 7 hours in bed may have been enough pre-children, you might want to schedule 10 to 12 hours “in bed.”
- Practice immaculate sleep hygiene: For example, only use your bedroom for sleeping, avoid using your phone before bedtime, go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day, and don’t drink caffeinated beverages within six hours of bedtime. You will never be perfect on these things, but whatever you can do, it will help.
What you need as a mom: Nutritious food and hydration.
How to get what you need: Your body is recovering from pregnancy and birth, and it needs protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals to heal. Here are some possible ways to make that happen:
- Get your groceries delivered. Grocery delivery will save your life. Time saved walking around a supermarket will give you more time to actually prepare a meal. You’ll also save energy. (Shopping with children can be exhausting.)
- Make a list of snacks and quick healthy foods. Ever find yourself hungry but unsure of what to eat? Take a moment to make a list. Think about finger foods, quick things you can grab from the refrigerator, and snack on. Once you have a list, you’ll be prepared to shop for those things and remember to grab them when you’re starving. Keep your snack list visible for when you’re too tired to think of what you can eat.
- Invite a friend over to cook with you. You get social time plus food time! If you’re cooking together, that means one of you can be holding a baby while the other cooks or cleans. You can cook one meal to share or meal prep and cook for the week.
- The crockpot and freezer are your best friends. Search online for freezer meal prep advice. You’ll find so many ideas.
What you need as a mom: Quiet time.
How to get what you need: We live in a busy, noisy world. Here are some ways to get some reflection time.
- Put your phone down. Our phones can be a wonderful distraction, but they can also be a source of anxiety and “noise.” Plug your phone into the charger in another room and leave it there for an hour. If you are feeding your baby, just focus on feeding your baby. Or allow yourself to daydream. Provide your mind with some much-needed rest time.
- Play meditation music. Or ocean waves, thunderstorm audio tracks. The Calm app is a great resource.
- For at least one of your baby’s naps, don’t do anything. Don’t clean. Don’t cook. Don’t sleep. Just take the time to be. It’s okay to just breathe.
- Journal. Download our Teen Mom Self Care Tracker and start journaling.
What you need as a mom: To get your body moving!
How to get what you need: Let’s get that heart rate up. Here are some ideas:
- Put on some upbeat music while you clean. If you put on some great music, and dance while you’re cleaning, you’re burning calories.
- Go for a walk. One of your baby’s naps can be from the stroller. If you can’t walk outside, go to a mall or even a grocery store. Walk quickly, and you’ll get some exercise in.
What you need as a mom: Adult socialization
How to get what you need: Your baby (or children) can’t be your sole source of human contact. Here are some ideas:
- Look for free or low-cost mother-child classes and activities. Regina is full of great mother/baby classes, joining one will provide the opportunity to make friends with other moms.
- Embrace video chat. If you really can’t get out and no one can come over, set up some video chat dates.
What you need as a mom: Clean hair, and bedsheets.
How to get what you need: Here are some ideas
- Create a routine for morning or evening self-care time. Sometimes, it’s not that you can’t get a shower, but it’s that you just don’t set aside the time. Make basic self-care part of your day or night. If you need to make a list to remind yourself to wash your face and brush your teeth, make a list and post it near your bathroom mirror.
- Bring the baby into the bathroom with you. Make sure they are in a secure and safe place and within eyesight. Sometimes this is the only way you’re going to get to shower.
Regular Healthcare Visits
What you need as a mom: A yearly physical, and a dental cleaning every six months…
How to get what you need: You need to see the doctor just as much as your baby does.
- Make a calendar. Put it on the refrigerator door or schedule it as a yearly reminder on your phone, that way you’ll be more inclined do it.
As a mom, you need to take care of your children or baby and yourself. Sometimes, it’s not that we can’t make time for self-care; it’s that we don’t think it’s important. But self-care is important—for your health and your tots.
Try your best, ask for help from friends and family, and know that whatever you do to take care of your own mental and physical health will have a positive impact on your children’s wellbeing.
If you need support with school, contact our Teen Parent Worker by visiting out Teen & Young Adults page.
This blog post was created as part of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information about our response, including changes to our service delivery and other resources, please visit: http://familyserviceregina.com/covid19-a-message-from-the-ceo/