As parents we’re often inundated with well-meaning phrases such as, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’, you need to ‘fit your own oxygen mask first’ and ‘it takes a village’…
That’s all well and good, but you’re probably wondering how do I actually do that?
Knowing you need to look after yourself, and knowing how to do it are two very different things.
Here’s what our Kiindred experts want you to know…
1. Movement is medicine
Lyz Evans, Women’s Health Expert – Women in Focus
A woman’s well-being is a complex interaction between her physical, emotional, mental and sexual well-being. And it’s so important – if not more important – during that postnatal period to recognise this for mums.
When it comes to our physical wellbeing, what I want you to remember is that movement is medicine. We need to move to actually feel physically well in our body, which has a huge impact on our mental and our emotional state. But we also need to adjust our expectation when it comes to returning to exercise.
For the first six weeks, take it easy with gentle walking and a bit of pelvic floor engagement. From around six weeks you can build it up to something a little bit more intensive like walking, swimming and pilates. But avoid impact until around 4 months. If you can get a women’s health check before you do that, I would highly encourage you to do it.
Psst: When it comes to sex it can be so scary for women to return to sex for the first time. But I want to just reassure you, for most women, it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. Make lubricant your friend – the vagina is very dry in the postpartum period and a lubricant can actually help make the process a lot easier to start with.
2. Create a ‘tap out’ system with your partner
Genevieve Muir, Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator – Connected Parenting
One of the ways that my partner and I developed over the years of having our four boys was a little system of tapping each other out.
Sometimes I might just realise I’ve had a really long day with one of the babies or a really hard afternoon with a toddler, and I would just say to my husband, I need to tap out. He would know that I need a break, whether that’s a walk or shower or rest. It doesn’t really matter. It’s about taking yourself out and stopping for a moment.
We also developed a system where we might spot each other looking a little stressed as they’re rocking the baby or a little bit worked up with a toddler, and we would just say to the other person, ‘I’m going to tap you out and take over’.
This really worked for us, and it is a good way of allowing yourself to stop and rest and rejuvenate when you’re in the trenches with a little baby.
3. There are NO silly questions
Sarah Hunstead, Paediatric First Aid – CPR Kids
You know your baby, better than anyone. And what I want you to do is always trust your gut. Trust your instincts when it comes to your baby’s health. If Something isn’t sitting right with you, please back yourself. Go and seek medical help.
If you’re unsure, always ask the questions – there are no silly questions when it comes to your child’s health. So, always trust your instincts. Remember, you know your baby, better than anyone.
4. Give your body time
Mandy Sacher, Paediatric Nutritionist, Wholesome Child
Well-being is all about setting realistic goals for yourself. Your body has been through so much in the past nine months, so it’s really time to reset and take things slow. You may be rushing to get back to your pre-baby weight, but that is not possible and is not realistic.
Take it slow. Don’t rush, just let your body do its thing. Let it heal.
Forget about “bad foods” or getting back on a calorie-restricted diet and instead focus on nutrient-dense foods. The only thing that’s going to do is impact all the good nutrients that you’re giving your baby, and your energy stores.
Remember that we don’t have to be the best version of ourselves straightaway. You are good enough and your body will get back to its normal weight in time.
5. Be a help-seeker
Jaimie Bloch, Child and Family Clinical Psychologist, Mind Movers Psychology
Wellbeing is such an important topic. In my clinic I always talk to parents about being able to take care of yourself first. When you’re taking care of yourself, then you can be a better partner. And when you’re a better partner and a couple, you’re both better at being parents.
So it’s really important to create new rituals and routines that help support you. Not only that, it’s really important to be a help seeker. I know as a new mum, I’ve not been very good at doing that myself. I’ve needed people to pull me up and remind me sometimes too.
The most important thing I would say to parents is that before you have your baby, let people know what those signs and symptoms are for you, so they can notice if you need help.
6. It takes a village… but what does that mean?
Chris Minogue, Registered Mothercraft Nurse
There’s a very common saying around bringing babies home: it takes a village to raise a child. The village is there to support you as parents, as you go through this journey with your baby. But it’s important to remember that everyone’s village looks a little different…
Some couples don’t have a lot of people around them supporting them and they’re really relying on each other to get through those early weeks of having the baby. Whereas others have grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.
So how do we sort them all out?
You’ve got to remember it’s about what’s working for you, and you’ve got to be able to communicate to them what type of help you need. That might be someone taking the baby for a walk, so you can have a bit of time to yourself, right through to someone bringing you dinners for a week because that’s all you can manage.
Just remember to care for yourself, so you can care for that baby.
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Mustela.