The first few months are the hardest when you have a new child. Not only is a child born, but so is a mother. These little ones come along and really shake things up, and they become your absolute priority. It such a wonderful time as you bond with your baby but It’s also a real adjustment. Because of that, it is very easy to forget to nurture and take care of yourself as a new mum.
As I write this, my second child is just three weeks old, and I am in the thick of it. She has woken from her newborn slumber, and it’s exhausting and demanding but totally worth it. I’m in a better space than the first time around.
You see, with my first born I didn’t look after my mind or my body while on maternity leave and paid the price. Only now can I look back and see the things I could have done to make things easier, to take care of myself as a new mum.
People will tell you to “sleep when they sleep” — that was the number one piece of advice I hated. Why would I sleep when they sleep when it is the only time I have to do the washing and prepare dinner?
Funnily enough, this has now become my biggest advice and probably the most important. Even if it’s just an hour a day or at least putting your feet up, rest is essential for functioning properly, and you will feel better for it.
#2 Health and Hydration
There is no doubt that you feel better when you eat better. When I breast feed, I am ravenous, and that is because you burn so many calories while your body is constantly working. This is great because you can drop the baby weight nice and quickly, but the problem is I crave sugary foods as a result.
This time I have removed all the rubbish from the house and replaced it with exciting healthy foods. I order online to save time, and only put in my cart what I know is good for me. Only this week I removed the Nutella jar from the house because I kept sticking a spoon in it every time I had a craving — it has been a challenge.
Hands up if you do not drink enough fluid or don’t really like water! I am guilty. When I found out I was pregnant this time around, I made a conscious decision to drink more fluid because your hydration needs increase when you’re pregnant and even more so when breastfeeding.
Another mother introduced me to aquamamma, a drink specifically developed by an Australian obstetrician to help keep pregnant, birthing and breast-feeding mums hydrated. With added folic acid, it’s also low sugar containing 70% less sugar than average fruit juice and also happens to taste great!
I stopped drinking the carbonated stuff and made aquamamma an essential item in my day bag and on my bedside table through the night, and I put plenty of it in my hospital bag for the labour. Now, I have one at arm’s reach every time I breast feed.
#3 ‘You’ Time
When you become a parent, you will go from being spontaneous and flexible to being busier than you’ve ever been before. And that’s okay, but you need to have some time for yourself. If you do not create it, it won’t happen.
There will always be something to do that takes priority over you, if you allow it. Now, this relates to both mum and dad. Taking a break and doing something indulgent, like a massage or a game of golf, will have you return refreshed and recharged. It’s okay to be selfish every now and then, and you will be a better parent for it.
When you are in the baby bubble and feeling tired, it is very easy to sit around in your pyjamas. And after the really hard nights, those are the days to do it; there’s nothing like snuggles on the couch.
But I find that if I make a point of getting dressed, popping my bub in a carrier or pram and going for walk, it sets a tone for the day. It makes me feel normal to get out and get fresh air when the first few months can feel quite isolating at home. I feel so much better for it.
Most of all, it’s remembering to go easy on yourself. It’s a big transition, but the most wonderful thing to become a family.