A couple of my friends are expecting soon and due to our individual geography it is not going to be possible to be there in person, so this blog post is for them and for all those of you about to embark on motherhood for the first time. I just want you to know ladies I am always at the end of a phone / computer / on WhatsApp / Insta message, whatever time of day or night. This is not to burst your gorgeous pregnancy bubble at all, just to expand your thoughts to after the birth.
With May being Mental Health month and this week focusing on Maternal Mental health, I thought I could share what I would give a new mum.
One day you were you. A sassy, strong female striding pavements, swishy hair, lush clothes and with your s*** together. (This was never me by the way but you get the gist…) Then one day you go into labour and a little time later you have a tiny human who needs you like no one has ever needed you before and you haven’t yet had time to process this. Your body has been incredible but it is so changed and you don’t recognise yourself. There is no time to process this though as your baby is crying for food and you are figuring out how to attach this little bundle of flesh to your boob. Why am I struggling? This is something I thought would just happen. Isn’t it the most natural thing in the world? Ouch it hurts, am I doing it right? What do I do now? How do I know when to feed him? When do I change him? How will I know he is full? When should I put him down? Should I just keep him close? What if he gets cold? How will I know? Does he know who I am? Is this love I’m feeling? Why am I so anxious? Why am I feeling full of worry? Your body is awash with a cocktail concoction of hormones and you suddenly realise life will never be the same again.
My gift to you is COURAGE…
COURAGE to realise you won’t know everything at first and you will be learning continuly but it does get easier and you are doing a great job so far.
COURAGE to ask for help when you need it, you will need it and ask for lots! There is no shame in this!
COURAGE to make mistakes and then to be kind to yourself when you make them. We all do and you need to be kind to yourself. Without making mistakes we can’t learn so embrace them. There is a lot of adjusting to do.
COURAGE to accept you will feel differently on different days. Some will be really tough and other days will be dreamy. It’s all part of the ebb and flow.
COURAGE to appreciate that babies have their own agenda and you won’t always be able to tell their cries apart (took me nearly 6 months) they won’t always sleep when you want them too and sometimes they will just be uncomfortable.
COURAGE to trust yourself and your body. You know you and you know your baby plus your baby knows who you are. He/She heard your heartbeat as they grew safe in your womb and you’ve already been getting to know each other for 9 months. Have confidence in Mother Nature, she knows her s***.
COURAGE to believe whatever you are feeling (happy, sad, lonely, overwhelmed, discouraged, scared, excited, overjoyed, delighted, fretful, anxious, calm) will pass and it will be OK. There were times I cried ALL day and was overwhelmed with a mixture of intense emotions and other days I was a bag of happiness. It can be frightening but embrace it, you have just performed a total miracle and sometimes there are no words to express how we feel.
COURAGE to step outside into the big wide world with the most precious thing you own and get a few breathes of fresh air every day. This is such a good remedy and I walked everyday with Freddie.
COURAGE to say no to visitors if you are feeling overwhelmed but COURAGE to have visitors too to help you and make you a cup of tea! Most will bring cake or biscuits some might even bring a roast chicken!
COURAGE to rest and take time to sleep during the day when baby is napping (20 minutes is better than nothing) and your baby will be fine with his/her dad or other family members. You need to recharge your energy levels and let your body heal.
COURAGE to try different things to help you be the best mum you can be. Dummies, and formula milk are not the devil’s work – there is a reason why supermarkets have aisles of the stuff!
COURAGE to talk to other mums and be open. Listen to their experiences and share your own. It takes a village. Have the COURAGE to listen to yourself over anyone else and COURAGE to do things differently. Do what works for you.
COURAGE to step out of the room and take a couple of deep breaths. I used to hum as the vibrations helped to calm me (its a yoga trick). 10 long seconds could be all you need to relax those shoulders and gain composure.
COURAGE to love yourself. You are the most important person to your baby so self-care is paramount.
COURAGE to know that you are enough.
“You got this mama!”
You are Queen of your own Kingdom!