Post-Partum: Self-Love; Self-Esteem, Self-Care.
Motherhood is the most extraordinary journey that we as women will ever experience, but it is also probably the hardest and most challenging journey of our lives. So much change! Emotional, mental, physical change and so many demands on time.
Inevitably, with a newborn baby to look after, while running a household and often with careers to manage as well, when you are exhausted and stressed it is easy to neglect your own physical and emotional health. It is much easier for a mum to sacrifice her own care for the care of others: our husbands, children, family, friends, and show up as our best in work. But how can we be good to others if we are not good to ourselves?
I want to offer encouragement to other mums out there to balance Self-sacrifice with Self-love.
Here are 10 ways in which we, as new mums, can build our self-esteem and become more confident in our bodies, our many roles and ourselves in everyday life.
1) Know that you are not alone because you are never alone during motherhood.
When your struggling to stay awake, and you have no idea why your baby keeps crying or keeps waking every hour of the night, know that there are other mums right there with you having a hard time and figuring it out as they go along.
Mothers all over the globe are feeling exactly the same way. Be kind to yourself during this time, its normal to doubt yourself, overly worry about things and feel a little out of control of your emotions and life in general. It takes time to feel normal again.
2) Make a list of all the opportunities available or can be made available to take time out for yourself.
The most important thing we as mums can do is to actually schedule some time for ourselves just like we schedule other important tasks, events and reminders.
Make a list of the friends and family that can be available to help you out. It may not just mean babysitting but even simple things like jumping in the shower or putting in some laundry whilst they are over can be helpful.
Nap while your baby naps. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when there are so many other things we need to do while baby naps, like shower, eat, answer emails, phone calls, etc. but try and schedule in sleep time too. Sometimes, simply resting with your eyes closed will help give you that little bit of peace and quiet to recuperate your strength.
3) Learn to love your body for the miracle that it has performed.
As women, our bodies are so different from men’s bodies, we deposit fat in different areas of the body and our bodies change in different ways during pregnancy and post-partum from head to toe, and a lot of it is beyond our control even if we follow a clean eating and exercise regime. It has been seven months since my daughter was born and only around 4.5months i stopped wearing my maternity clothes and started wearing my normal clothes again.
Ignore the message that the media gives boasting fast weight loss in new mums, these women are definitely in the minority and for most of us slower is more achievable and, in the long term, probably better. This time is all about embracing our new ‘mumbod’ as it has given us our beautiful baby. It means we need to ‘trust our body’, it will not betray us. Just as our bodies, miraculously change to accommodate a baby it has the same ability to bounce back afterwards. It’s important to remember this during our moments of self-doubt and self-criticism and to be patient and kind to ourselves to let us bodies take the time to adjust and return to normal. But make a plan, think about nutrition and exercise, think about how you want to feel, set SMART goals, small steps, incremental changes and a realistic timeline all nurtured with a support system and kind words and encouragement.
4) Find something that makes you feel good about yourself.
Prioritize time for activities that make you feel good. This could be playing your favorite album while in the shower or giving your nails a fresh coat of polish. For me, this is taking a daily walk, and spending time with my husband, who is my biggest support.
5) Spend time with other new mums.
For me this has helped a lot, the bond that mothers share because of the journey we have all been through to give birth to our beautiful babies is wonderful.
We set up a WhatsApp group of new mums in my community and this has helped me tremendously. It is amazing how the same things affect us all; we all have the same worries, questions, and, although, we were all entering motherhood from different places with different challenges, we have found that we can all support and encourage each other together, and we can celebrate each other without any judgement.
6) Build a support network around you.
Personally, living in Dubai and being away from family became harder during my pregnancy, fluctuating hormones and apprehension about the future and my new life took its toll on my happiness and made me very anxious. I contacted friends that I knew were mums, and friends that cared and supported me and I made the effort to meet with them regular. It really made a difference to me to surround myself with a “family of friends” and positive people who have joined me on my journey and continue to be blessings in my life.
7) Accept, Embrace and Love the Person that you are.
You are beautiful just the way you are. Your self-worth is based on who you are on the inside and not what you look like on the outside. Put your efforts into recognizing your special qualities. What you think about yourself will always be more important than what others think of you. You get to define the person you are every single day, take that opportunity with a moment of quiet reflection every morning.
8) Find the opportunity to exercise.
Not only will a regular exercise program help bring your body back in shape, it will also help you feel better about your body, and it should give you more energy not to mention those feel good hormones that come with getting a sweat on.
If you are waiting for the doctor’s ‘go ahead’ to workout, spend some time doing some gentle walks outside. Fresh air really helps to lift your mood, and surrounding yourself with nature brings peacefulness and gratitude. If you cannot find that opportunity of “alone time” to exercise check out my previous blog on working out with your baby. www.rhianadamsfitforlife.co.uk/blogs
9) Fuel yourself with good, nutritious foods.
A balanced diet will help keep your energy levels up on the tired days. Focus on nutrition rather than dieting to lose the pregnancy weight gain, especially if you are breastfeeding, the priority is to provide your baby with nutritious breast milk. Learn a few simple recipes to pull together and stock up on healthy snacks.
10) Practice Self-love as a positive example to our children.
What message will we be giving to our daughters as they grow if we do not care for ourselves? If we are always negative and put ourselves down then how are our children going to learn how to self-love?
Self-love is a beautiful and powerful message to give to our children and we are the first model that they look up to and copy as they grow up. Our children will learn from us how to think about themselves, how to react in difficult situations, how to be kind to others and also to ourselves. Our children will observe the decisions we make in regards to food and exercise and our approach to body confidence and acceptance.
Remember, you are not alone on this journey! Millions of women around the world feel the same way. It is natural to struggle in this new chapter. Learning to accept ourselves, our bodies and be the best role model we can for our children may take changes: changes in our thoughts and our words about ourselves, maybe a change in behavior patterns, daily choices along with a dose of courage – but it will be worth the effort when we are confident and happy with ourselves and an even better version of who we used to be. Changes take time and we need to make our well-being a priority.
Let us take the time to make the changes. Together, let us recover our self-esteem and bounce back even more confident in ourselves, our bodies, our abilities and our roles.