I vividly remember the moment I found out I was pregnant, a way back when in 2014. Like magic, at that moment it’s as if an invisible switch flicked for me. All of a sudden I had a new found respect for my body and I was adamant to look after myself – which at the time was a big deal for me. Nothing in the world was more important to me than that little baby (that we now call Luke!). Even though I battled with hyperemesis which made that pregnancy tougher than I had anticipated, I soldiered on. I did absolutely everything in my power to care for the baby the best way possible. From antenatal vitamins, and avoiding unnecessary risk, to generally taking it easy and being very careful about what I ate. I think I surprised myself in how strong those motherly instincts were from the get-go!
Luke arrived in early 2015 – and as most mothers can relate to – it was an absolute baptism of fire. He was as wonderful as he was beautiful, yet I was overtired, overwhelmed and completely winging it. I had entered what I now call survival mode. My days were less about relaxing and indulging in warms baths and smoothies for breakfast and more about doing everything in my power to keep the tiny human alive – by whatever means possible.
Like many mothers, I had struggled on through the later stages of pregnancy and all the glamour it entailed (can you sense my sarcasm!). In my naivety, I thought the baby would arrive and a day or two later I’d be skipping into town singing Diana Ross numbers to my new bundle. Little did I know that it doesn’t quite work out that way. Turns out that bringing a human being into this world actually takes a real physical toll on your body. People worry openly about stretch marks and baby weight, but what about the effects of an episiotomy or diastasis recti? You don’t hear too much chat about that! Nobody talks about your pelvic floor failing you, the back and knee pain that lingers on, or the fact that lifting a car seat is like a bloody work out that nearly breaks you!
At the time, I really struggled to find time to do anything for my own physical or mental well being. Looking after me seemed so far down the list of priorities in those early weeks, because I was so consumed with getting to grips with how to be a parent. I wish I had realised then that investing a little time into myself would have made the motherhood side of things a lot easier for me in the long run.
We hear the words ‘ self-care’ a lot these days when it comes to motherhood, which I think is a really important step in the right direction. But sometimes I wonder how that translates for mothers in different situations. As lovely as an afternoon off to recharge physically and mentally sounds, sometimes it’s not feasible and feels more aspirational than realistic. It’s easy to allow self-doubt creep in, and all of a sudden ‘self-care’ and ‘selfish’ start to feel synonymous. But we need to push that doubt aside and just embrace the fact that minding the minder is a win-win situation. Think of the analogy of tending to your own mask first in an emergency situation on a flight. Help yourself so you can, in turn, help others. Parenthood is the same – we need to care for ourselves in order to be at our best to care for the little people in our lives. Happier parents are better parents.
So find little things that bring you joy in your day, however small they might be. Get out for a walk and breathe in some fresh air. Buy the snazzy teabags you prefer. Buy your favourite chocolates – you deserve them. Get yourself some fancy shampoo, because invariably you will have to shower at some point (albeit not as often as you might like!!). When the baby sleeps for those rare few moments, take a minute to breathe and do something kind for yourself. Do something that makes you feel like you.
LOLA&LYKKE – POSTNATAL PROBLEM SOLVERS
So much has changed with each of my subsequent pregnancies, and things I love and do as a mother now weren’t even around on my first pregnancy 4 years ago. I recently came across Lola&Lykke – which is a new Nordic lifestyle brand for moms, who are on a mission to support moms´ health and well-being. When they asked me to put together a post about the well-being of mothers and self-care I jumped at the chance. Why? Because I’m passionate about the topic, as passionate as Lola&Lykke it would seem. Set up by two fellow Mom’s, Lola&Lykke recognises that recovery continues long after childbirth – something I think all women should be a little more mindful of! Reflecting now on the physical and mental toll that bringing my tiny humans into this world has had, I definitely underestimated the time it would take my back and core muscles to return to what they were. Lola&Lykke have developed an incredible support band that accelerates recovery for mom’s by helping to reduce long term problems with your core and back following childbirth. Postpartum physical and mental health go hand in hand, and I genuinely feel Lola&Lykke have made it their mission to support women in both aspects of their recovery.