Having a child turned my life upside down. My relationship with my husband changed, there was tension from the lack of sleep we both experienced, financial pressures, and I was beside myself with being at home full time with no other friends around me who were local, who had just had a baby.
When I got out of the house, I loved connecting with people especially other mums to talk with them on how things were going for them. Prior to being a mother, I was working full time as a Sales Coordinator for a very busy wholesale company Australia wide. Then suddenly I was at home with a newborn baby all day! It was a challenging period for me.
The first week after having my baby when my milk started to come through, my body went through some huge adjustments. I was healing from my caesarean section, my hormone levels were changing and my baby was adjusting to me, my milk and his new surroundings.
There were days where I just had to let myself cry a lot, when my nipples were red raw, and my breasts engorged with milk.
When I got emotional my baby would throw my milk right back up. So between cleaning vomit, changing nappies, and feeding round the clock in between the 3- 4 hour sleeps my baby had over the 24 hour clock; I was exhausted. And somewhere in between I had to shower and feed myself to keep the factory working!
I had to really start to work on looking after myself and committing to daily rituals as I couldn’t even shower myself at around about the same time every day. It got me to see that the more I bought self care into my every day, the less stressful and overwhelming it all was. It has been a huge learning for me but when I stop and appreciate the new found awareness I have and that I now live, I realise I would do the whole thing again. It was certainly a challenging period for me, but I worked my way out of post-natal depression and back to feeling myself again. I now have more energy and vitality than ever, and a renewed purpose to life.
So I will share with you a few of the various tips I discovered that really supported me to feel content and steady in my emotions. But the ripple effect was greater than just me looking after myself, all my relationships improved as well. I am certainly not perfect and each tip is always a work in progress – there are always areas I can deepen and learn to change, adjust and evolve to the next level.
- Bringing awareness to your thoughts
Don’t give yourself a hard time, having a newborn baby can be a very stressful, overwhelming and an exhausting time. The worst thing we can do is be hard on ourselves – and I mean, negative self talk. It is these negative thoughts that can creep in and leave us feeling helpless, worried, completely doubting ourselves, incapable of doing anything right, the list can go on. But how can we change our thoughts into more positive ones?
- Bring gentleness to your movements
Take a moment to stop, sit down, and close your eyes, adjust your posture and just breathe. Bring focus to your fingertips resting on your thighs. Can you bring a delicate movement to your hands and how you placed them on your legs?
Learning to be gentle within in our movements can bring awareness to how we move all the time. Having a new born baby means that you need to be so tender with them, so why not bring this quality to yourself? Try it out, you will be amazed at how simple it is and with some discipline, it really can change the quality of your thoughts.
- Ask for support
It is really important that if you are feeling overwhelmed, call out to friends or family for help. Don’t feel bad about it. Ask for whatever assistance you can get, like having food cooked, getting support with cleaning, or even having someone care for baby to give you time to sleep – it is all so worth it for your general wellbeing.
Do you have people you can turn to, to talk about things? Use your support network or if you don’t have one start working on building one. I was blessed to have my mother in law to help me out a few days a week and I always used to say to myself, “Thank you God for sending me an angel to help us.”
- Attending to your medical health check ups
It is really important to attend to your health checkups and see if there is anything extra you can do to support your body. Be open to following through with medical tests like blood tests or urine tests, even going to have your regular dental check up. It makes such a difference. I found a doctor that specialised in women’s health and we worked together to get my hormone levels back up to healthy levels.
As a woman, it is really important to be in touch with our cycle and how this can affect our wellbeing. There are many things that can affect our monthly cycle, like our hormone levels, breastfeeding, stress, our diet, our emotions, how we are in our relationships, and with life. Do we observe things or do we absorb emotions from around us or react negatively with our own emotions? Are we in tune to the cycles of the moon and the weather?
I was fortunate that my periods resumed 4 weeks after having my caesarean operation and this allowed my regular monthly clearing.
- Going to bed early
I know at first this might seem impossible, but once you can start to wind down earlier, you will find that putting yourself to bed early gets easier. Being asleep by 9pm will allow your body to get the cleansing and recharge it needs so you can wake up feeling refreshed. Try to avoid TV or social media before bed as this can be quite stimulating.
- Giving yourself time in the mornings
When you go to bed early, you can also wake up early, and this means you have time to get ready for the day ahead. This time of the day can be gorgeous. For instance, do you usually take your time to wash yourself and your hair? Or do you go into auto-pilot, when washing yourself and jump out of the shower quickly, thinking of what’s ahead?
Take the time to look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate something about yourself, look deeply into your eyes and remind yourself that you are a beautiful woman. Take the time to do your hair, moisturize, do your make up and choose your clothes, it really makes such a difference to how you feel about yourself.
The morning rituals are a beautiful way to start your day, especially if you can and it really helps to take the time to feel your body and be really gentle with each movement while getting ready.
I haven’t always had the opportunity to get ready without my child being around me, but on the occasional mornings where I do have this time to myself, I find it absolute gold.
- Hydrate yourself
A lot of people start their day with coffee, but if you try the tips above you might find that you won’t need to reach for that caffeine hit quite so often.
Breastfeeding my child meant that I needed to keep my fluids up to help my milk supply. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it’s really important to keep hydrated. Being a busy mum, I know how easy it is to forget to drink my water!
- Supporting yourself with nourishing food
We all know how delicious home cooked food can be, and as a mother I have always wanted the best food for myself and my family. Over the years I have adjusted my food choices and my relationship with food. They are constantly being refined as I listen to my body and the signals it gives me. I watch for the effects of food – sometimes these includes bloating, wind, tiredness, feeling heavy, getting a blocked sinus or having mucous, feeling itchy or having rashes etc. Everyone responds differently to food at different times in their lives. I have personally found gluten, diary and refined sugar free foods to be the most supportive to my body and my health.
I have enjoyed using recipes from the following sites:
- Spice and Smile https://spiceandsmileblog.com/
- A Neater way of Cooking http://www.aneaterwayofcooking.com/
- Bridging Foods http://www.bridgingfoods.com.au/
- Live Love Nourish http://www.livelovenourish.com.au/
- Being organised with the everyday stuff
We can’t avoid the necessities of eating, drinking, washing our clothes, cleaning our homes, paying bills etc. But can you simplify any of these areas? Eating well means you need to plan ahead.
- Make a meal plan of the food you want to make for the week.
- Can you do your grocery shopping on one day for the whole week?
- Look up recipes if you are uncertain of how to make things.
- Do you have a good freezer?
- Can you dedicate a day per week of cooking and freezing meals to support you for the week ahead?
Do you give yourself time during the week to get your washing done, hung out, dried and folded? I find putting a load of washing on in the morning, hanging it out and then folding it at the end of my day has worked for me.
Do you take the time to clean your home, ideally spreading it out over a couple of days? Is there little things everyday that you can do to support you in keeping a clean and or tidy home? Can you check in with your quality of movements of – how you do these activities?
How are you with your finances? Do you use a budget?
These are just some practical questions you can ask yourself to consider, which have made a difference for me.
- Getting out in nature
What I love about living on the Gold Coast is the gorgeous environment and climate. Getting outdoors for a walk or going to a park, beach or river, is one of the most refreshing things to do with my family and supports me to connect, move, stretch and exercise.
Going for a walk with my baby was one of the best rituals I did to help him settle . And when I’m outdoors I always appreciate the magic of nature all around me.
- Appreciate yourself
It’s important to have moments to stop and appreciate yourself and your unique qualities that you bring to others. Often I find that in these moments, I am surprised by just how much there is to be appreciated, and it deepens the more I practice it. Give it a go, you will be surprised what a difference this brings to your wellbeing.
Don’t forget, that we can appreciate lots of the things we do, but it is also important to appreciate the quality of our being that we do them in.
- Give yourself time to rest
I have a very busy life now. Giving myself 10-15 minutes to stop and lie down, and check in with my breathing and unwind is an awesome ritual for me. I feel a lot more connected. Sometimes I do this before a certain task like before getting dinner ready, or before hanging out the washing. Whatever time you can get, give yourself the space to stop and unwind. It’s amazing how well it can set you up for the next part of the day ahead, and even the next day! There is no wrong or right but feeling what feels true for you and your body. This is constantly changing daily.
As mothers, there is so much that we do and bring to our children and others, yet sometimes it’s the little things we do for ourselves that makes a world of difference to how nurturing we can be. It starts with supporting ourselves first with self care. You might even get to feel how taking steps towards self care leads to feelings of self love.
“Self love is a mindful act. Self love is a conscious choice towards being love.”
Serge Benhayon, Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, p 663
Check out my girlfriend’s blog, she inspired me to write mine http://www.kategamble.com/blog/8-self-care-ideas-to-inspire thanks Kate Gamble!