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by: Sherry Duson, M.A., Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

I am sitting in Starbucks with my best friend. It is 1999, and my second baby is 6 months old. I have been given the opportunity to continue work as a family therapist in a private practice setting, and am pondering this new prospect for work and passion in my life.  As my friend and I talk about it, I begin to describe my hearts desire for this new adventure: I’d like to help other women in their transition to motherhood, for my postpartum experience with my second baby did not go the way I expected it to.  I could have used a place to talk about it.  Maybe a support group for new mothers? Maybe a counseling practice focused on taking care of yourself while you learn to take care of little ones? My friend asked me to list the things I thought would be important for new mothers to remember, and we starting to scribble ideas onto the Starbucks napkin. The  origins of the Well Mom Checklist had emerged.

Fast forward 13 years later, and I am amazed at what has happened to The Well Mom Checklist!  What started as a simple list of reminders of self-care has developed into a tool for wellness reaching more mothers that I ever imagined. I expected to use it as a description of my counseling focus and and outreach tool, but did not know that it would resonate with so many that  it would be duplicated in a great variety of ways. I have been contacted by healthcare professionals, mental health practitioners, mothers group leaders, writers and bloggers from around the country asking for permission to use it in going home packets from hospitals, doctor’s office packets for new mothers, publications of books, magazines and websites.

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It has been tweaked over the years as I have learned more specifically about the self care practices most helpful to new mothers. But the message remains the same: take care of yourself, then you will be able to best take care of your baby! The old analogy of the oxygen mask going over your own face first, still applies!

So, here it is in it’s current form: Feel free to print it, use it, copy it and give it to every new mother you know. The actions are simple, but the benefits are vast. Be Well!


  • Have I eaten enough nutritious food today?
  • Have I slept at least 5 hours, or taken a nap?
  • Have I bathed or showered today?
  • Have I exercised at least 10 minutes today?
  • Have I had at least 10 minutes of quiet time for reflection  and renewal today?
  • Have I let myself laugh today?
  • Have I let others help me today?
  • Have I kissed my baby and told him/her “I love you” today?
  • Have I talked to at least one adult today about how I‘m doing today  (not just about the baby)
  • Have I forgiven myself for mistakes today?
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