By Angela Sutherland
Brutal sleep deprivation mixed with heavenly newborn cuddles; one mighty sore and swollen body meets a love you’ve never felt before. And never mind your partner, other children, the house… and where the f*ck did all this washing come from?
Yes, the early days of motherhood are certainly one mother of a rollercoaster.
Whilst you fill your newborn days nourishing this tiny person and caring for a family. What happens to you? Mothers are natural givers, but become too depleted and you won’t have anything left to give.
Every new mama feels like she can’t give herself any time, the overwhelming responsibility for the life of this tiny person means you naturally put yourself firmly at the bottom of the pile. But a little self-care goes a long way, meaning you don’t just survive but thrive.
1 // Allow yourself time
The time shift of newborn life can come as a shock to many busy mamas. But see the slow-down that this new world forces on you as a gift. Allow yourself to lounge around with your baby, soak in those times with your newborn, and give yourself time to rest and recover.
2 // Accept help
As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village’. If people offer to help, TAKE IT. If people don’t offer to help and you need it, ASK FOR IT. People close to you will be waiting in the wings totally happy to help. Especially other mamas who have already been through these early days. Even if it’s just a home-cooked meal or 10 minutes to take a shower, don’t be afraid to ask.
3 // Buy postpartum clothes
As much as you crave to slip back into your favourite skinny jeans, don’t torture yourself trying to get straight into those pre-pregnancy clothes. It took nine months to grow the baby and it can take nine months to get back to your pre-baby shape again, if ever. So, treat yourself to some nice post-partum or breastfeeding clothes to make yourself feel comfortable and confident with what you are wearing each day.
4 // Get ready each day
Not in the first few weeks, but once you find your groove make the effort to get ready each morning. Even if you don’t plan on going out, having a shower, drying your hair, getting dressed all help to improve your mood and feel prepared to take on the day.
5 // Connect
It’s all too easy to become isolated as a new mum. But it’s essential to stay connected and feel supported. Join a group, make the effort to attend mother’s group or a playgroup, or simply get out of the house for a walk or coffee with another local mama.
6 // Book a little pampering
As soon as you feel able to leave the baby for a few hours, book yourself a massage, haircut or similar. You deserve a little pampering, your body needs it, your soul needs it, you will feel better.
7 // Embrace your new body
When you look in the mirror, it’s likely that you may not recognise your body anymore. More curves, maybe some stretch marks. That’s ok. You’ve just grown and delivered a tiny person, give yourself a break. Your body is truly amazing, wear it with pride.
8 // Move
Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor, try to find a way to fit in some exercise into your day. That doesn’t mean smashing out reps at the gym, and certainly doesn’t mean pushing yourself to get your pre-baby body back. Some yoga at home, a mums and bubs group, a walk with the pram, whatever you like, just make sure you give yourself time to do get moving… the benefits for both body and mind are huge.
9 // Nourish yourself
Try to ensure the foods you are consuming really nourish you, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Though the caffeine and sugar is tempting to get you through an exhausting time, try to reach for proteins, veggies, and lots (LOTS!) of water.
10 // Incorporate wellbeing
Newborn days are hazy days, and it’s so easy to let our minds scurry ahead to everything that needs to be done. But try to incorporate a little mindfulness into your day to slow that busy brain down. Be present in the little things, whether you are soaking nappies or settling bambino to sleep.
11 // Be yourself
Yes, you are a new mum. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t still the same person you were BEFORE baby arrived! Stay connected to your friends, dedicate some time to still do what you love, do whatever you need to do, to keep being ‘you’.
12 // Alone time
‘Me’ time is a priceless thing. Some mamas need it more than others. If you are one who needs a little alone time to recharge, schedule it with your partner. Even if you simply go to the local coffee shop to read a magazine (ahem, Mama Disrupt, anyone?).
13 // Don’t compromise
The first thing that mamas do is compromise and put these needs last, until there is nothing left. Choose the ones that really matter to you and don’t let them go.