Becoming a new mum is a time of both joy and pain. Literal discomfort coupled with hormonal fluctuations and extreme fatigue can leave you feeling less yummy mummy and more honey monster. There is no doubt that motherhood can bring its highs and lows and it is not uncommon to suffer low mood, stress/anxiety and a sense of diminished self confidence. At a time when you are focussed so intently on this new life it is also a time when your own self care needs are high. Unfortunately, mothers at large are not always the best at putting themselves on the list.
7 pointers in improving your self care and keeping your sanity intact.
Sleep deprived, hormone addled, wobbly and possibly sore. Yes, that ramps up all those critical voices in your head. Notice when you are beating yourself up and stop. Go make a cuppa, grab some biscuits and snuggle up with baby on the sofa. You have just achieved an amazing and exhausting feat. Guess what? that needs recovery and support not self flagellation. Stay aware of when you are being critical and replace it with the one of many skilful and positive things about you.
Change your language
You have just had a baby which means learning a new language. No long hours of study necessary. Just follow these simple rules. Take out ‘I should’ and ‘I have to’. Replace with ‘I could’ and ‘I might’.
We can develop an insatiable urge to compare when we have babies. Developmental milestones, baby feeding choice, post baby weight. The thing about comparison is that with our negative thinking bias you will always get the shitty end of the stick.
Let go of perfectionism
Trust me I’ve had 3 babies and letting things go gets easier the more children you bear. This is more out of necessity than design. The baby space can be filled with perfect pictures of post-natal bliss but on the whole it can feel like utter chaos. Embrace the madness even a little and you will actually protect your sanity. Peanut butter sandwiches or take out for dinner are fine.
Put yourself somewhere on the list
Notice that I didn’t say at the top of the list. This is because all those post-natal hormones will be directing your focus to baby survival and family wellbeing. Fighting this primordial nurture instinct is futile and unnecessary, instead simply aim for one act of kindness a day for yourself.
Connect with others
I was never one for a mother and baby group but often felt the isolation of motherhood. This was compounded by a high degree of uncertainty and emotional volatility. Talking and sharing is great medicine and helps build self-confidence. You may not be a fan of small community hall gatherings but that doesn’t have to mean being alone. Take a look at what is available in your area, there are many options available to new mums. Join online groups or arrange face to face meet ups with people that raise you up. Even if you feel tired making the effort to connect will reap benefits for your overall wellbeing. Simply seeing that you are not the only one struggling can sometimes be a sanity saver.
Nature is a great nurturer
Never have I felt the healing benefit of nature more than when sleep deprived, hormone addled and a shade of post-natal blue. We have all heard about the benefits of walking out in nature, feeding the mind, body and soul. It’s also an activity that is baby friendly whether awake, tired or hungry. Your baby gets out into the fresh air, can be fed on the go and can nap in either pushchair or baby sling. I used to love a walk in the late afternoon when my mood and energy levels slumped. Returning from an hour’s walk would help me soldier on through the early evening when I would feel very low and exhausted.