Mum's wellness after birth
Let’s face it ladies, no matter how many parenting books you read or how much your friends tell you, you’ll never quite be prepared for ‘mum life’.
As excited as you are about being a new parent, you’re probably also quietly freaking out, and that’s normal.
It’s a challenging time, in more ways than one, but it’s also the time when new mums neglect their own needs most, and that is a no no! Putting yourself first will ensure you are in a good headspace to be a better mother, better partner and enjoy the time more. Don’t lose yourself in it all.
Now I don’t know about you but before baby I was bad enough – after baby I was worse! With what you ask? Being a complete control freak. My daughter was born and all of a sudden I think, ‘I’m super mum, I can do it all’. Boy oh boy.
Eventually, I burnt out and then boom, I had post-natal depression, which is extremely common by the way.
What are the warning signs of PND?
• Feeling low, sad or depressed.
• Losing interest and pleasure in usual activities.
• Feeling irritable or angry for no reason.
• Feeling worthless or guilty.
• Excessive worry or fear/anxiety.
If you are concerned, or suspect you (or a loved one) has post-natal depression, it is important to talk to your midwife, doctor or Plunket nurse.
It was difficult for me to face the fact that I had post-natal depression, even though I had suffered from depression in my teens. As a first-time mum, you have nothing to compare your experiences to. You are sleep deprived, a little anxious about your new baby, their health and everything is bit of a blur! I thought what I was experiencing was ‘normal’ but the more I talked to other new mums, the more I realised that I might have PND. They say it’s better to be safe than sorry so I made an appointment to see my GP who put me on medication and booked me in for funded counselling.
It wasn't until I decided to put myself first that things turned around. I gave up the control (well, some of it!) and as long as baby was fed, clean, dry and safe, I was doing what I could to save my own sanity.
- How many times have you heard this – SLEEP whenever you can. Those dishes will still be there when you wake up and that’s OK – leave them.
- Eat enough nutritious, healthy food (don’t skip meals) and drink plenty of water.
- Keep taking your vitamins – baby will be taking all of yours during breastfeeding so you must continue to replace them.
- Exercise. We all know exercising increases ‘feel-good’ hormones and we all need these. Make sure you have the all clear from your doctor or midwife before any strenuous exercise programmes. (You can usually start around six weeks post partum.)
- Be kind to your ‘you know what’. One word – kegals. Check our tips for pelvic floor exercises here.
- Designate – hubby can help too. Talk about things he can do to help BEFORE the baby arrives and write an action plan as when you are both tired and stressed, you don’t want to take it out on each other.
- Ask for help – friends, family, the neighbour – anyone, take all you can get… never feel like a burden.
- Schedule YOU time – This can be anything – a post-natal massage, regular relaxing baths, walks in the fresh air, coffee groups and catch ups with friends, girly events, putting on make-up and a nice outfit even when you don’t feel like it, treating yourself occasionally, and talking to a professional if you need to.
If you feel like you are struggling with things check out our article on PND here and talk to your GP, midwife or Plunket nurse so they can help you to get help, show this article to a friend or family member to start the conversation, or contact one of the services listed here:
Where to get help
0800 111 757
(free Depression Helpline)
The Postnatal Distress Centre
http://www.postnataldistress.org.nz Postnatal Distress Support
Network Trust (offers free support services for greater Auckland area)
http://www.mothersmatter.co.nz Information about PND and anxiety
with links to support services available around the country
Post and Antenatal Distress
Support Group Wellington
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KIM: My journey to becoming a foster parent goes right back to when I was 15. I have always wanted to be able to help a child in need. I have been married for 30 years and have four children of my own, as well as one grandchild.
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