Life is tough and amazing as a new mum. I still vividly remember my daughter’s birth, expecting a due date to mean just that and then finally wondering how the hell we were parents!
What astonished me post birth were all the things no one had thought to tell me – like I’d still look six months pregnant for a while, that my body would feel flutters still for months later (cue panic buying a pregnancy test), I’d cry at X Factor rather than laugh or that I would suddenly feel boosts of creativity and an urge to change our lifestyle by quitting my job! And all of this is OK!
However as much as those first few weeks can whizz by in a blur there are things you also need to focus on. It’s not just the baby who has been through it. Post-natal healing is such an important thing, physically and mentally – from taking iron tablets if you’ve experienced blood loss to making sure you get sleep when you can so that you feel well and rested too.
Fast forward doing this 2 more times and I’m super aware of what to say and do and I thought I would share a few of my top tips on spending some time on yourself during the fourth trimester especially those first few special weeks.
- Make sure you are not just functioning on caffeine.
Everyone warns new parents about lack of sleep but what they don’t tell you is some days you will feel like you have been hit by a bus. A lot of mums I know think they need to keep the house together but please don’t worry about that!! A good friend will always let you sleep while they do the washing up and cook you a bit of dinner! Put a shout out on Facebook for help! I had a few friends batch cook meals for us which really meant a lot as it freed up my time to focus on me and my family not chores!
- Don’t forget any medication!
The healing process post birth can be slow but it’ll be even slower if you don’t take care of your body. Make sure you take any medication on time by setting an alarm on your phone, enjoy a soak in the tub to gently clean a c-section.
- Know your body and listen to it!
Every mum experiences post-natal aches, pains and blood loss as their body returns back to normal. Focus on what is right for your body. Eat well and try not to skip meals. I always try to have a bowl of fruit around and bottled water to grab because this makes it easier to be healthier and avoid the kids snacks and crisps.
If you have blood loss or any scarring you have doesn’t feel right make use of the midwife and health visitor appointments. These people are there to help you and during the first 10 days you should have regular visits. Use them to your advantage!
Book yourself in for a post-natal massage so that any aches and pains are worked on too. Let your partner take the baby for an hour so you can just delve into your head, enjoy some headspace. They will be able to cope!
- Do something for your mental health.
Tiredness, a new baby, baby sleep, breastfeeding and a change in family dynamics all take time to figure out. I like to have a journal next to me for jotting down the great things during the day. Small steps really do feel like big celebrations during the first few weeks of a baby’s life so do share them! Baby spam on Facebook if need be!
When friends come over and offer to make tea, do a school run or run you a bath then grab the opportunity with both hands! Your head may be so busy with baby you wonder if there was ever space to just think. So take a bath, read a book, dye your hair or paint your nails – do something you like to do that’s just for you!
- Have a friend on What’s App.
It’s easy to let friendships go when you feel exhausted so why not have your besties on a group app where you can speak to them all at once. It is essential to have as much support as possible in those first weeks and months. Choose a supportive group that you can trust your inner thoughts with.
If you feel like you’re swimming against the tide, speak. I can guarantee you are not alone. Every mum feels full of emotion post birth and this is normal! Don’t be afraid to speak to your partner, your friends instead of withdrawing. Relationships change, that is true, but they can only strengthen with honesty and support. If you feel you can’t (it’s hard I know) then please do speak to a professional.
Most of all congratulations Mama, with each day life will get easier, there will be joy and laughter, there will be tears and tiredness. Most of all though, welcome to the Mama Club, we’ve got your back.
Resources like Bepanthen’s www.10thmonth.co.uk can also be invaluable to a new mum. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time mum or have a sibling on the way it really is important to feel like you have support along the way. Asking for help should be encouraged at any stage of parenthood and by finding the resources you need in one place, well, that can make all the difference to you when you’re feeling like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. The motherhood haze is hard enough and this site makes it easy to find help, support and relevant information tailored to you.