Having a baby is crazy. It's amazing, of course, and beautiful and joyful and sometimes even transcendent, but let's be honest: it also turns your life totally upside down. It can be a good few months before you adjust to the new normal with your tiny little dictator...and chances are, you've let your own needs take a backseat during this time.
Still, there's no reason why you can't sneak a little self-care and self-confidence into those hectic, surreal weeks with a newborn. Most people don't associate being (or even feeling) beautiful with the postpartum period, but we think it's time for that to change! These postpartum tips will help you feel pretty, calm, and ready to tackle life with your infant.
Pick a comfortable, washable "fourth trimester" outfit that you feel confident in, like black leggings, a button down (for easy boob access, of course) and boots, or a maxi dress and some cute flat sandals. Buy a few of each item and wear them until they wear out. You won't have to spend any time thinking about what to wear when family members and friends drop by to meet the baby, or on those rare occasions when you're actually up for leaving the house.
The words "skin care regimen" might make you laugh right now, but stick with us here: The five seconds it takes to slather on some moisturizer and SPF before strapping your baby in her carrier and walking around the park can make a real difference in your skin, especially since lack of sleep can lead to drier skin, says Jessica Krant, M.D., dermatologist at the Art of Dermatology in New York City.
But keep it simple: "Make it one or two steps max, and leave the fancy beauty routine for a few months down the road," Dr. Krant says. "Gentle cleanser and moisturizer with built-in sunscreen for the mornings, plain moisturizer before bed."
Get a basket or other small, handy container that you can keep by you wherever you most often feed your baby, nap, or hang out. Fill it with tools to help you feel presentable and put-together, like a small mirror and brush, hair ties, cleansing face wipes, lip balm, dry shampoo, even nipple cream. You can add baby supplies too, like burp cloths, and extra pacifiers. Voila! Instant access to everything you need. 'Cause sometimes just trekking to the bathroom can feel like too much work.
Want to feel like the mama-goddess you are? Book a photo shoot with your baby. Those newborn photo sessions featuring knitted hats and the cutesy poses are ubiquitous, but there's no reason you can't get in on the fun, too. (Trust us: You'll want to be in some of these early-days pictures!) And if the thought of getting yourself photoshoot-ready is more stressful than sweet, remember that it doesn't have to be anything uber-glam -- or even professional: a few pretty photos that show you nurturing your newborn just might make you feel incredibly gorgeous. Hey, a photo your partner took in the backyard that you run through at least five Instagram filters totally counts!
Your body has just done an amazing thing -- growing a human -- and it needs water! Breastfeeding moms need to drink a lot of liquids, but even if you aren't nursing, staying hydrated is important for optimal recovery and optimal comfort, too. Get a pretty, reusable water bottle and bring it everywhere you and baby go.
Laundry? Dishes? Cooking? Cleaning? Ask your partner -- or a close friend or family member -- to help out. In our culture, it's often hard for women to ask for (or admit they need) help, but postpartum is a time when you should have free rein to be in nesting mode, hanging out on the couch, binge-watching Orange Is The New Black, and staring at the adorably chubby cheeks of your newborn. You should be focusing on the needs of your baby and yourself, not stressing over household chores, errands or other random tasks. Don't feel guilty, either -- chances are your BFFs will totally be on board to help.
Take it easy on yourself. Seriously. The most important thing you can do in those first few weeks and months is take it one day at a time and release yourself from expectations -- including those related to how you look. There's nothing wrong with doing a few small things to make you feel and look more like yourself, but ditch the pressure of "getting back to your old self." There's a whole new element of "you" now -- so spend some time sitting with that, too, and just appreciating your fierce new mama-self.