When you become a mother your whole world changes, your body is different, you have a baby who you care for 24/7 who feeds, sleeps & probably even sometimes poops or vomits on you.
It’s like you have grown an attachment that even so small consumes your every waking moment & even when you are sleeping, do we actually even sleep properly when we have a newborn. I know I would wake at the slightest noise every single time.
Your daily chores that used to be simple now become a mammoth task to complete as you are usually either disrupted 10times or have your little attachment in one arm.
As beautiful as becoming a mother is such as watching your baby feed, sleep & all the firsts it also is very draining on the mind, body & soul. It’s easy for mums to get run down, experience fatigue in the most extreme ways, self-doubt on if you are doing a good enough job, self-confidence can dip as your body isn’t like it used to be (it’s much more beautiful, though sometimes that can take a little bit of time to true know) and all that other things that can also come with motherhood such as anxiety, post natal depression & even guilt & shame if your birth didn’t happen how you were dreaming for it to be.
I honestly have felt and experienced all of the above. I have had 3 children. My first was an emergency c-section, 2 natural, 1 with an epidural (36hours long) & then a natural, drug-free 4 hour birth, though to be honest towards the end I was screaming like a mad woman for anything drug, epidural, anything. My midwife calmly looked at me & told me that I was doing great and could do it without any interference, I won’t tell you what my reply was, let’s just say I didn’t agree.
I experienced postnatal depression with my second child & rushed back to work as I couldn’t cope being at home with her and my son.
Then with my third who had health complications, I experienced extreme anxiety & mild panic attacks.
I know what it is to forget about who you are as a woman & caught up in trying to be the best mum, the best wife, lover, friend & the list goes on.
Though I wish to tell you something that not many will share with you.
You don’t gain anything other than feeling overwhelmed & empty when trying to be everything for everyone else. Most new mum’s don’t have a tribe to surround them and support them through the first 6 weeks which is the most intense time with healing, feeding, sleeping and so on
So when we try to ignore this need to hibernate, rest & recover and instead we clean our house so it is spotless, we make dinner for our husband & are always available for our friends we are doing a disservice to ourselves & our health.
We must let go of the need to please others and take care & prioritise our own needs so we can actually function without falling into a space where sometimes we can’t get out of it so easily.
Here are some of the ways to take care of you & fill up your cup regardless of how young or old your children are.
REST – Yes! This is the number one thing that is a must. When your baby rests, you rest. I didn’t understand the importance of this and instead, I would try and cram everything I ‘Should’ have been doing into my babies’ sleep times (when they would sleep).
Instead of criticising myself for not mopping the floor or doing the washing I should have just either slept or laid on the couch & rested.
One thing I highly recommend for new mums is that if people want to gift you something, ask for a voucher to a cleaning service and get them in once a week to help you feel good in your space. This takes a huge amount of stress off your shoulders.
Ask for help. We are such a proud society where we say we can do it ourselves. We can’t! We weren’t made too. Find your tribe or find someone you can trust who you can call on if you are struggling with just needing to get some sleep whilst someone holds your baby. Most people want to help and really love spending time with cute babies. Seriously I know I would totally be done for that. I love babies, I just don’t want any more of my own so I love holding other people’s babies.
Each morning take time just for yourself, even if that is 5mins but make it count!
What can you do in that time that will help you feel better & more grounded in yourself? Is it turning on your favourite song & dancing like nobody’s watching? Is it meditating? Having tea & writing in a journal? It’s asking yourself what you need & doing it.
When you are having a shower, actually practice giving love back to yourself by touching yourself & your body with love. It’s as simple as saying I love me, I love myself, I love my body, I love who I am, I love all of me whilst washing yourself. Give some of that love you give to everyone else back to yourself.
Doing something that makes you laugh. could it be having a conversation with your girlfriend? Watching a funny movie or video? Laughter is the best medicine and honestly when you are home by yourself with your baby sometimes we can get too serious or stuck in a routine to take time out to play.
Spend time outside on the earth every single day.
You want to feel good & heal quicker then go barefoot on the grass. Listen to the birds, watch the trees, let mother nature hold you, and nurture you. Create daily practices however long or short to remember that you matter and that you aren’t just a mother, you are a woman with needs & desires as well.
Be honest to those around you that you can trust or seek a tribe whether online or in-person where you can feel what you are experiencing whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I can’t express to you how important it is to your wellbeing to have a group of fellow women where you can be heard, held, supported & celebrated.
It can be the difference between struggling to stay afloat or walking through your day knowing that you aren’t alone and at any time you need someone to talk to you can. Knowing can be more powerful than anything else.
Be kind & compassionate towards yourself. Stop judging your body, your parenting, your actions & start loving the woman who brought a baby into this world. Who is waking up every day regardless of how tired you are and parenting the best way you can.
Have an open heart & mind. This for me is a non negotiable. To be able to live a fulfilling life is to not be caught up in trying to fit into a box or mould of what a mother & woman should be. Find those who support you in finding a way of doing life that feels good to you rather than trying to create a life that looks good to others.
Choose you. In this I mean find ways where you are listening to your needs & desires. Is someone asking something of you where you feel you just can’t or that you really don’t want to – Say No lovingly.
Say yes to yourself as well. When you are tired, sore go and get a massage. No guilt & no shame.
Practising self-love is not selfish.
Trying to make others happy is not selfless.
Practising self-love is selfless, not only does it help you feel good inside of yourself, you are able to show up in a more fulfilling way within all areas of your life. When you give to someone you are able to give more & in a more balanced way.
I like to say that practicing self-love is actually selfish. When we don’t take care of our needs we can get stressed, overwhelmed, angry, resentful, reactive and so on and then that is rippled out throughout your day such as your relationship & parenting.
Make your relationship a priority. Make time for you & your partner to spend connected time with each other. It might be 5mins where you have a tea together, or go outside in the sun and just chat. Giving & receiving love. Asking for support you might be needing and being honest on what you are struggling with.
My husband had no idea I was struggling half of the time, because I wouldn’t tell him in case I let him down. That was never the case, it was my own ego & need to show that I am worthy by being a good mother. I ended up being angry & resentful towards him that nearly broke our relationship all because I wouldn’t communicate honestly.
Men are not mind readers and most of the time they don’t look further then the surface, so if you say you are ok when you really aren’t they are going to take you at face value. So stop trying to be superwoman, be real, be honest & let your partner support you and let him step up into a more fulfilling & connected role as husband & father.
Never give up hope. When you are struggling please reach out. Don’t let yourself go through these amazing changes & sometimes challenges alone. Like I said women were never meant to do life alone so find your tribe so you can thrive, because when you think you can’t they know you can.