For the Working Mom: Five Postpartum and Matrescence Self-Care Tips

April 11, 2024

Vanessa Leveille

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Matrescence
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I'm a therapist-mom who writes in hopes of helping moms of color navigate the matrescence journey and create a more harmonious and fulfilling life.

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Hi, I'm vanessa

Becoming a mom transforms every aspect of your life. Known as Matrescence, this transition, along with the postpartum period, calls for a nuanced approach to self-care. And this is particularly true for the working mom who is juggling so much.

In this post, we’ll explore five essential postpartum and Matrescence self-care tips. These tips are specially tailored for the busy lives of working mothers. With over a decade of experience as a therapist, and having worked with dozens of perinatal women and hundreds of women of color, I’m here to guide you.

We’ll navigate together through practices that nurture your well-being. These strategies honor the profound changes you’re experiencing in this season of your life. They ensure you emerge more resilient, connected, and fulfilled in your journey through Matrescence.

Image of a Working Mom

Understanding Matrescence and Self-Care’s Role

Stepping into motherhood, we face shifts in our identity and sense of self that hit us hard, especially in those early postpartum days.

Suddenly, the freedom to just be, to come and go as we please, seems like a memory of our pre-motherhood lives. Remember those impromptu Target runs or solo movie nights? They now require an expert-level mathing operation plan.

And let’s talk about our self-care routines.

Those precious moments we dedicated to ourselves — whether it was hitting the gym, reading in silence, or meeting friends — become rare moments as a working mom in postpartum. It’s a tough pill to swallow, initially, realizing these parts of us need to be reshaped or, at times, put on pause.

For moms of color, this reality can feel even more intense, layered with the societal expectations we juggle daily.

But here’s the thing: recognizing this shift is crucial. It’s not about mourning the loss but embracing the transformation. Finding new self-care rituals that fit into your busy life as working moms isn’t just necessary; it’s a path to rediscovering and redefining yourself.

Yes, it’s a challenge, but with the right support and a bit of creativity, you can navigate this journey, emerging stronger and more connected to your new self.

The Unique Self-Care Needs of Working Moms

Jumping back into work after maternity leave throws working moms into a period of adjustment. At the office, to your colleagues it might look like you’re back to your old self, but everything’s changed. Matrescence has changed you, yet the folks at work might not see the transformation you’re living each day.

Honestly, before discovering Matrescence, I don’t think I even understood this magnitude of change for colleagues who returned from maternity leave. Ugh, things you wish you know then.

Self-care at work now? It’s about sneaking in a moment to breathe or pump, amidst deadlines and meetings. It’s these little pauses that acknowledge you’re balancing more than just work tasks—you’re also managing a profound personal journey.

At home, things changed there too. What you managed on maternity leave now clashes with your work schedule, making you feel stretched super thin. It’s about finding a new rhythm that respects your needs as both a mom and a working mom.

The key? Identifying what self-care means to you now and voicing it. Whether it’s asking for a flexible schedule or setting clear boundaries for family time, it’s crucial. Self-care isn’t just nice to have; it’s a must-have for thriving as a working mom.

Five Holistic Self-Care Tips for Working Moms

So how do you do this?

You start by recognizing that self-care looks different in this season of your Matrescence, and getting real about what you need most during this time. This stage demands that you listen closely to yourself, acknowledging that your needs have evolved.

It’s also important to note that being in the postpartum period also asks us to be that much more mindful of our wellbeing.

It’s crucial, given the heightened risk of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) — mood disorders that can arise during pregnancy or after childbirth. Understanding and addressing your self-care needs not only supports your overall well-being but also acts as a preventive measure against PMADs.

With this in mind, let’s chat about the five self-care tips tailored for working moms. These suggestions are designed to nourish you, body and soul, as you navigate the complexities of motherhood and work.

Tip One: Prioritize Sleep and Rest

We’ve all heard the advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and if you’re like me, you might have rolled your eyes a time or two at it.

I promise, I did.

But behind this well-worn phrase lies some truth—prioritizing sleep is crucial, especially when navigating postpartum and the risk of PMADs (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders). Sleep deprivation doesn’t just leave us feeling exhausted; it can significantly affect our emotional resilience and overall well-being during the postpartum period.

So, how do you tackle this sleep challenge when you’re a busy working mom? Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Establish a soothing bedtime routine for yourself, not just the baby. A warm shower, some light stretching, or a few minutes with a book can signal to your body that it’s time to relax.
  • Limit screen time before bed. Blue light from devices can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Try swapping out your phone or TV time with a more restful activity an hour before bed.

And when it comes to resting, remember, it’s not just about sleeping:

  • Set aside downtime. Before transitioning from work mode to home responsibilities, allow yourself a moment to decompress. Even a short period of quiet can be incredibly rejuvenating.
  • Be okay with saying no. It’s tempting to catch up on chores or emails when you have a moment to yourself, but sometimes, the best thing you can do is nothing at all, and embrace stillness.

In this season, give yourself permission to prioritize rest and sleep. It’s not just about physical health; it’s about nurturing your mental and emotional well-being too.

Tip Two: Embrace Body Movement

Integrating daily movement into your busy life as a working mom is a good way to navigate the postpartum period, respecting your body’s recovery process, even beyond the standard six weeks. Movement isn’t just about fitness or trying to snatch your waist or snap back; it’s a form of self-care that can significantly enhance your well-being.

Here’s how you can start:

  • Start small and be consistent. Incorporate gentle movements like walking or stretching into your daily routine. Even 10 minutes a day can make a difference, helping you feel more connected to your body and mind.
  • Explore postpartum exercise classes. Many communities and online platforms offer classes specifically designed for postpartum bodies. These can be a great way to rebuild strength and confidence in your body, surrounded by others who understand your journey.

And when you’re not feeling your new body, it can be challenging to want to move it. To rebuild confidence in your postpartum body, consider these tips:

  • Celebrate small victories. Acknowledge every step you take towards movement, no matter how small. Each action is a step towards embracing your body’s capabilities postpartum.
  • Seek complementary care. In my sessions with clients, we discuss the importance of embodiment work, as well as the benefits of bodywork like acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, or energy healing. These practices can be incredibly supportive as you navigate matrescence, helping you feel more in tune with your body.

Remember, movement in the postpartum period is as much about mental and emotional health as it is about physical recovery. Finding ways to move and honor your body can play a crucial role in your overall well-being.

Tip Three: Nourishment for Body

After childbirth, your body has been through a marathon of change, leaving it in need of deep nourishment. This goes beyond mere eating—it’s about replenishing and healing.

Emphasizing the healing power of food, many cultures and books, like “The First 40 Days,” advocate for a diet focused on recovery and revitalizing your body postpartum. This isn’t just about filling up; it’s about fueling up with what truly supports your body’s return to optimal functioning.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in your physical recovery and mental health. Research indicates that mothers can suffer from nutrient depletion long after pregnancy, affecting everything from mood to energy levels.

To ensure you’re nourishing your body adequately, consider these tips:

  • Choose nutrient-dense foods: Focus on incorporating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fats. Think about adding more warm meals, whole grains, lean proteins, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids to your meals. These nutrients are vital for recovery and can significantly impact your well-being.
  • Hydration is key: Drinking enough water is crucial for healing. It aids in digestion, helps replenish fluids lost during delivery, and can improve energy levels and skin elasticity.

By prioritizing nourishment, you’re not just feeding yourself; you’re healing yourself. This approach to eating can support your body’s recovery process, enhance your mood, and contribute to your overall health during postpartum.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in your physical recovery and mental health.

Tip Four: Managing Stress

In the postpartum, stress management is not just a suggestion; it’s essential. Matrescence can be filled with beautiful moments, but it also introduces a new set of stressors. Recognizing triggers for stress and understanding its impact on your nervous system is the first step toward effective management.

Here’s how you can start building your stress management toolkit:

  • Quick mindfulness exercises: Incorporate simple, quick mindfulness practices into your day, like deep breathing or guided meditations. These can be as short as five minutes but profoundly affect calming your nervous system.
  • Self-regulation practices: Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or positive visualization can help improve your nervous system’s functioning, making you more resilient to stress.

It’s also about recognizing that you can’t do it all, Mama, especially not in the same way as before.

This realization isn’t a defeat; it’s an opportunity to be innovative and resourceful in how you manage your responsibilities.

  • Ask for help: Whether it’s from your partner, family, friends, or colleagues, reaching out for support is a strength. It’s about understanding your needs and ensuring they’re met.
  • Identify your non-negotiables: What do you need to feel balanced and less stressed? Is it a nightly bath, a weekly yoga class, or simply an uninterrupted hour with a book? Recognize what refuels you and make it a priority.

Managing stress is as much about the external—finding strategies to deal with day-to-day challenges—as it is about the internal, like how stress affects your postpartum recovery. Mindfulness and self-regulation aren’t just tools for your toolkit; they’re essentials that support your journey through Matrescence, helping you to respond to stress in healthy, effective ways.

Tip Five: Establishing Self-Care Practices and Rituals

As you navigate the postpartum period and perhaps your return to work, you might notice a shift not just in your daily routine but in your very passions and career aspirations.

It’s a jarring realization when the dreams you were chasing suddenly don’t align with the person you’ve become. This is where creating personalized self-care rituals becomes invaluable, offering a way to reconnect with your evolving identity and sense of self.

Self-care rituals are more than just the occasional mani-pedi or a relaxing bath.

They are deeply personal practices that allow you to express creativity, explore spirituality, and go on a journey of self-discovery. These rituals can be as simple as a morning walk in nature, journaling, or practicing mindfulness through meditation.

The goal is to engage in activities that resonate with the core of who you are now, supporting you in strengthening and deepening your understanding of yourself.

Here are some ways to cultivate your self-care rituals:

  • Explore mindfulness-based practices: Mindfulness isn’t just meditation; it can be about being fully present in any activity that brings you joy and peace. Whether it’s gardening, painting, or cooking, these activities can become meditative and deeply fulfilling.
  • Lean into cultural traditions: Many cultures have rich traditions of postpartum care that focus on nurturing the mother. Explore these practices and see if any resonate with you. They can offer a sense of connection to your heritage and a way to honor this significant rites of passage.

Remember, this time in your life is about compassion and exploration. It’s okay if you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself.

Through personalized self-care rituals, you have the opportunity to rediscover and redefine who you are, embracing the complexity and beauty of Matrescence. Mothering the mother within you isn’t just a practice; it’s a pathway to healing and wholeness.

Addressing Common Questions I Get as Holistic Matrescence + Postpartum Therapist

How can I effectively communicate my self-care needs to my partner/family without feeling guilty?

Let’s get real: telling your partner or family about your self-care needs isn’t about being selfish—it’s about being your best self (cliché, but oh-so-true). Just be honest and clear about what you need and why it’s crucial for you. It’s all about showing that when you’re at your best, you can give your best to them, too. Keeping the convo open and free from guilt helps everyone understand and support you better, paving the way for you to thrive together in this big change.

What if my self-care needs conflict with my partner’s or family’s expectations?

If your self-care seems at odds with what your partner or family expects, start the conversation with empathy but be clear about why these practices matter so much to you. It’s about finding a middle ground where your well-being doesn’t get sidelined. Talk it out, listen, and work together to come up with solutions that respect everyone’s needs. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your health and happiness; it makes you better for them, too.

What are the best strategies for scheduling self-care without feeling overwhelmed by planning?

As a working mom, you do get busy, so to schedule self-care without getting overwhelmed, keep it simple and flexible. This is not about being perfect or doing the most here. Start by identifying small pockets of time in your day that can be dedicated to self-care, even if it’s just a few minutes. It’s also helpful to tie your self-care activities to existing routines—like a short walk after lunch or deep breathing exercises before bed. Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate; the goal is to integrate it naturally into your day without it feeling like another task on your to-do list.

Let’s get real: telling your partner or family about your self-care needs isn’t about being selfish—it’s about being your best self (cliché, but oh-so-true).

Conclusion

As you step journey through different seasons of your Matrescence and this postpartum period, remember this: self-care isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s your anchor.

Especially for you, the working mom, molding self-care to fit both the joys and jolts of motherhood and your career is key.

These five tips we’ve walked through together—getting enough sleep, moving your body, feeding it well, keeping stress in check, and carving out rituals that feed your soul—are not just suggestions. They’re your toolkit for not just getting by, but thriving. They’re about embracing the massive shifts happening within you, making sure you come out of this season feeling more grounded, strong, and truly connected to who you are now.

So, let’s keep it real: amid the shifts and challenges of motherhood and professional life, prioritizing self-care isn’t indulgent—it’s fundamental. It’s how you stay grounded and navigate this significant life transition with grace and strength, ensuring you don’t just survive but flourish.


Seek Support from a Matrescence Therapist

If you’re a mom of color, who is also high-achieving, in Massachusetts or Texas seeking compassionate and culturally sensitive online therapy to help you navigate motherhood and Matrescence, I invite you to reach out to me. I am a therapist who specializes in working with moms of color and can provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate the challenges of Matrescence and create a life of harmony, fulfillment, and joy.

Fill out the form on my contact page so we can chat more and explore how I can support you on your journey.

Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m here to help you overcome challenges, thrive as a mother, and discover the strength and resilience that lies within you.

If you want to learn more about the journey of becoming a mother, called Matrescence, download your free guide today and embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Click link here to download the free guide.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog post. What resonated with you most? What questions do you have? Share your insights and experiences in the comments section below.

Together, we can create a supportive community for moms of color, sharing our journeys, encouraging each other, and finding strength in our shared experiences.

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