There are an endless number of articles that tell us which products our baby will require. They cover everything from setting up a nursery, what foods new mums should be eating, to which nappies won't irritate our little ones.
However, the mental health of a new mum is often something put on the back burner. Many new mums openly talk about their lives transforming since giving birth (or turned upside down, rather). As is the case with every positive and exciting change, there are growing pains. Whether it's moving home, buying a new car, or something as life-changing as the birth of a new family member, we will have to make adjustments.
Many of us avoid talking about the more challenging areas of motherhood. We can be afraid to poke holes in a beautiful experience. There's nothing to hide!
The commonly reported issues mothers can face include:
- Postnatal depression.
- Extreme hormonal changes.
- Changing support networks.
- Prolonged time off work.
- Struggling to shape their identity around motherhood.
- Financial stress.
Or sometimes, during the early months, mothers can just get bored and a little stir crazy!
We wanted to put together a blog of tips and tricks to help new mums prepare themselves mentally for the journey of motherhood and to accept that there are some things you just can't prepare for entirely!
Indulge in a little self-love.
So often, motherhood is defined as an act of selflessness. However, the more we look after ourselves, the more capable we are to look after others. By acknowledging our boundaries and catering to our own needs, we, in turn, teach our children to do the same.
Self-love looks different for everyone. For you, it might be a long shower, a face mask, a special meal or heading to a yoga class. Making time to treat yourself with love and care is essential, and it's an important habit to implement and maintain for when you have your baby earthside.
You may initially feel some guilt; that's also okay. Take the time away that you feel comfortable with.
Don't set your expectations too high.
Remember, parenting is challenging work. So, don't put too much thought into the Momstagram influencers making everything look easy and colour coordinated. There will be hard days when the house is messy, you're tired, and your little one isn't getting back to sleep.
Take the good with the bad, and don't be too hard on yourself. Managing your expectations will help you not become too overwhelmed when things don't go exactly to plan. A baby changes everything for all the right reasons, but there will be an adjustment period, learn to accept your new normal.
Schedule some alone time.
Whether this means organising some help from your partner, parents, siblings or friends, organise a little bit of alone time where you can just be.
Understandably, you may not be up for the same activities you once were, but try to find some way each week where you take some time for pure recreation. Above, we talked about looking after your health and wellness here it's about having a little fun, whatever that means for you.
Make some time for socialising.
To begin with, accept that this might look different than how you would usually socialise once you have your baby with you. However
different your social life looks, it's essential to make some room for connecting with others.
So perhaps seize the opportunity to do something different like mum's and bubs yoga or join a playgroup or coffee club. Taking the time to meet other mums-to-be before becoming a mum is a great idea! If you don't feel up for getting out and about, try to maintain connections online, whether just texting or face-timing your current friends or joining online parenting forums and communities to have an ongoing support network.
"It takes a village" doesn't just refer to raising a child but supporting the parents. You aren't in this alone, and it's important not to isolate yourself.
Think about your parenting values.
Whether you are reading a million books or letting your intuition guide you, it can be helpful to lay out some values that are important to you to help shape your little one. Before having your baby is an excellent time to ponder how you want to raise your child; you will have a lot more time to think about this in advance.
If you are parenting with a partner, it's a good idea to discuss in advance what you both value and discuss expectations before the baby arrives. It's a lot easier to have these conversations in a calm theoretical way.
Having a common set of values takes the guessing game out of making the day-to-day decisions for your children.
Try to sleep!
Here's a tricky one; try to sleep. Of course. This concept might look different for everybody; a baby is born with their own needs, so every new parent is in an entirely different situation. Again, I know we are saying this a lot, but adjust your expectations; maybe you are napping at lunchtime, and that's okay!
Know when to ask for help.
If you notice yourself struggling, make sure you reach out to others and share your experiences, don't believe that you need to keep everything to yourself. Console in your parents, partner, other new parents or even a therapist if that's an option for you. If things become too much, don't be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in getting help, and there is no reward for taking on more than you can handle.
Last of all.... You've got this!
You can never fully prepare for parenting, and it's something that looks different for everybody, trust your instincts and your gut feelings. We hope that you will have little moments so special that there aren't words to describe them and that you can take the bad with the good; we hope your support network steps in and you are overwhelmed with love for you and your little one. Finally, we hope that you will look upon this transition into a new version of yourself as nothing short of magic through the ups and downs.
Tayla Nova x