Plenty of people have waxed poetic about the importance of self-care. But for new moms adjusting to lack of sleep, postpartum hormones, and the massive lifestyle changes that come with a new baby, the thought of self-care is likely the last thing on your to-do list. At The Edit HQ, we have world-class beauty experts at our fingertips, so it might seem unusual to look to a doula for beauty advice. But we also know that meaningful self-care goes way deeper than slapping on a sheet mask and calling it a day (though that can certainly be a part of your ritual). Doulas, who are trained professionals who provide educational, emotional, physical, and psychological support to moms (before, during, or after birth), know just the tools to connect to yourself during one of the most challenging periods of your life. “It is a person who’s there to help you feel your most radiant and also your most supported in the time that is really your most powerful and most vulnerable,” says Latham Thomas of Mama Glow. We chatted with Thomas about her experiences working with hundreds of new moms, plus the lessons she’s learned about beauty along the way.
Use products that work for you and baby.
“I think there’s a desire for new moms to start to think heavily about the ingredients in their skincare routine. You spend a lot of time thinking about how to protect your baby’s skin, so you think about how you can take better care of your skin using beauty products that have less [toxic] chemicals. Even better if there are products that are so pure you can use them to protect your skin and your baby’s since there’s only so much space in a diaper bag! New moms are more interested in products that help them multitask — like coconut oil that’s great for a diaper rash but you can also use it on your own hands for dryness or it can help with sore nipples,” she says.
I think skincare starts to come from a self-care lens rather than a problem-solving lens
Think of how beauty can work for you.
“I think skincare starts to come from a self-care lens rather than a problem-solving lens because I think there’s not the same amount of focus or energy when the baby comes. It’s about fitting it in when you can — with the demands of motherhood, it’s hard to put a full face together. So sometimes it could just be about a really great face oil or luminizer or a simple swipe of mascara that makes you feel really good and fresh-faced even when you’re sleep-deprived. A lot of people are iron deficient by the end of pregnancy and postpartum, and that will make your skin a little grayer, or iron deficiency causes the circles under the eyes. So a one-step luminizer that brings more color to your face can work wonders. Sometimes it’s about finding how beauty fits into your routine, not how to take time out for beauty. Beauty just needs to fold into your life in a different way than it did before,” she says.
Give your skin some grace.
“When I was pregnant, everyone around me was focused on making sure I took care of preventing stretch marks on my belly during pregnancy. I remember slathering on the cocoa butter and thinking: ‘This is what you’re supposed to do.’ Also, 20 years ago [when I was pregnant], you smelled like cocoa butter all the time because there weren’t great options that we have now. I do think new moms put too much pressure on themselves to ‘fix’ skincare issues that come up during pregnancy. I wish that folks would settle in time and let their bodies be. It’s always about understanding your reason for doing something. So, if it’s about comfort or self-esteem, I think that’s important to address. But I do not think the pressure of someone else’s gaze is a reason to focus on skincare. [When I was pregnant,] I just loved how my body was supporting me through that moment. I remember being fascinated that the body could [change so much during pregnancy] and I think through the lens that I have now: Your body is worth honoring. Can we all just be thankful that your body sustained life for a full 40 weeks?” she says.
Treat your skin from the inside out.
“What you eat is just as important as what you apply topically. I think about food as medicine and the things I put inside my body will also help my skin. It includes a lot of herbal allies like nettles. I consumed a lot of oat straw and red clover in teas during pregnancy and I still do to this day. These are things that will help with building healthy blood with vitamins and minerals that the earth gives us,” she says.
Find pockets of rest.
“As a doula, at the end of a session, I’ll have the mom go to the bathroom and cleanse their face and hands. I’ll ask them to lay down and throw on a sheet face mask while I do a massage on their hands. Stress and anxiety show up in your skin, so I find that creating these little moments of rest and support is important for them. People think it takes a lot of time to take care of yourself, but if we’re talking about 10 minutes — everybody can find 10 minutes to get to themselves, right? I always suggest carving out a space that’s as big as a yoga mat. You can take it to a corner, put a little candle over there, a book that you like to read, or a speaker for some music, and just sit. Even if it means that you’re sitting there and you’re thinking about your to-do list, just go sit there every day without your phone. Maybe you lay down with your eyes closed or you dance it out. It’s about figuring out what your medicine is and inviting consistency,” she says.