Self-Care for New Parents

The Importance of Taking as Good Care of Yourself as You Do Your Baby

By Meri Levy, MFT

This is a topic that I cover regularly in my new parent support groups, because it is so important to remember as a new mom or dad. It is easy to feel that the needs of your new baby, and even your partner, outweigh your responsibility to take good care of yourself. But this is a dangerous trap, because you are only as good a parent as you are nurtured as a human being.

This is not meant to be a guilt trip about getting your nails done or taking time to work out. The whole idea of nurturing yourself is about minimizing the avoidable “shoulds.” You don’t want anything about your own self-care to feel like an obligation. Pick ways to take care of yourself that you look forward to, and that fill your cup. It could be as simple as a long, hot shower with the music turned up high (while someone you trust minds the baby). Or taking an hour at Starbucks to read the paper over coffee while your partner has some baby bonding time.

Each of us as parents needs to listen to the voice inside of ourself that tells us when we’ve reached our limit. Parenting with heart requires living with heart, which is only possible if you feed your own spirit and body, and set appropriate boundaries to prevent building up resentment.