The Mobile Mama Essential Self Care: Food, Water, Sleep, Exercise, and Support

Mobile Mama Essential Self Care

There are so many times in our motherhood journeys when the world feels like it’s upside down, and our bodies and rhythms feel untethered. As we move from pre-conception through the stages of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and all of the phases of postpartum, our bodies adjust to changes in weight, fluids, hormones, and sleep. These fluctuations result in changes in mood, energy, and well-being.

Throughout all of these changes, how can we support ourselves?

The answer is surprisingly simple: we need to attend to the five essentials of food, water, sleep, exercise, and support. We call this the Mobile Mama HandWork. To help us remember the essentials, we correlate each component to a finger. The answer to self-care is in our hands!

When we use our HandWork model with clients and map out each finger, we notice that, typically, one or more of these essential components is out of balance. This information is invaluable, as it helps us figure out where to start in supporting the client toward feeling better.

Generally, when these essential ingredients are unmet, or not aligned, we feel out of balance (at the least) and fully dysregulated (at the most). For about 80% of pregnant and new mamas, when these components are met, we feel better. For the about 20% of pregnant and new mamas who experience a perinatal mood and/or anxiety disorder (PMAD), meeting these needs in addition to therapy and possible medication will help you feel better.

So now YOU get to reflect… How are YOUR Food, Sleep, Water, Exercise and Support needs being met lately? What about right now? How do you feel? Which finger do you want to address first?

Here are some simple ways to boost these essentials in your everyday life…


  • Eat like a toddler (or eat when your toddler eats)- every two hours.
  • Eat high protein one-handed snacks, such as:
  • Cheese sticks, Jerky, Hummus rolls, Nuts and dried fruits, Hard boiled eggs, Healthy granola bars, Yogurt and granola, meat and cheese rollups…
  • Double or triple meals and set aside some for lunches for the week ahead.


Monday – Mexican-inspired (tacos, burritos, quesadillas)

Tuesday – Soup/Stew/Salad

Wednesday – Pasta/protein

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner

Friday – Fish/Meat/Poultry

Saturday – Leftovers

Sunday – Sandwiches


  • Drink a glass of water upon waking up and with or after each meal.
  • Fill up mason jars and/or water containers in the morning and distribute them around the house/office, including at the spot where you nurse or feed the baby, next to the bed, in the diaper bag, next to your computer, in the car, on the stroller, etc…
  • Add frozen fruit or herbs to your water bottles for flavor, variety, and color.
  • If using one jar to refill, add or take off a rubber band for each time you finish it to track how much you are drinking.


  • Aim for at least two chunks of three hours in the night.
  • Set up temporary sleep strategies for a given amount of time (e.g., for one night, three nights, etc.)
  • Tag team sleep shifts with your partner, mother, friend, doula (e.g., You sleep from 8pm-2am and are on duty from 2am to 7am…)
  • If breastfeeding on demand and significantly lacking in sleep, temporarily ( for one sleep cycle or one night, etc.) supplement the baby with breastmilk and/or formula to increase a sleep chunk.


  • Simply step outside and get some fresh air to start.
  • Exercise and/or yoga videos are your friend!
  • Ask a friend to walk, stretch or move with you. It helps to have an ally/accountability partner.
  • Move with the baby (wear the baby and walk, gentle yoga with or near the baby, as the baby is older, use a jogging stroller, etc.).


  • Access your support folks, starting with family and friends.
  • Explore peer support in your community, both one-on-one peer support and group peer support.
  • Check out specialized online support groups through Perinatal Support Washington or Postpartum Support International.
  • Expand your supports to include your medical and complementary medical providers, such as Primary Care Provider, Birth Provider, Therapist, Psychiatrist, Acupuncturist, Massage Therapists, Doulas, Lactation Specialists, Pediatricians, Home Visiting Nurses and/or Home Visiting Providers.
  • Further expand your support network to include your religious or spiritual community members, local educators, and community organizations

So now grab a sticky note and write down this Sound Bite:

How is my Essential Care? Which finger do I need to focus on?

You can decorate your Hand to indicate each “Essential Care” ingredient. Then, invite yourself to explore and focus on that finger and take steps to meet your needs: Food, Water, Sleep, Exercising, and Support needs. Step by step, finger by finger, you will be working your way to wellness.