There was a national call out recently, asking mother what advise would they give to new mums. They were asked to write it in the form of a Love Letter. It was collated and summarised by researcher, Professor Hannah Dahlen. Here are the top 10 tips below. I've added some clarity around how you can assimilate each of these in your life as a new mum.
Top Ten Tips
Congratulations Mamma – You’ve got this!
1. Listen to people who give you advice but trust your instinct. You and your baby will figure it out together
ACTUALLY- trust your instincts first, as they'll guide you to which advise will best resonate with you. Your intuition is a felt-sense within your body. Generally that "gut feeling" you get within your tummy or chest. If you can soften your racing mind, your intuition will help guide you through your babies' needs/cries too.
2. Cherish the moments that give you joy and hang on tight when you feel out of your depth because the tough times do end and you do survive.
Of course you're going to be grateful, but when you're crazy ass tired, how on earth can you "hold on tight". There are a couple of things that really do work. 1. schedule some alone time. Get your partner/husband/mother/sister...(you get my drift) to watch baby while you go and clear your head. It may be a walk, or just sitting down reading a book or having a cup of tea. In order for you to mother, you need to mother yourself too, as if you're not feeling well, you're simply not going to be able to mother well (self care is not selfish, it's essential!) 2. breath! This ancient practice of breathwork is thousands of years old. When we solely focus on our breath, it will calm our body and mind, make us feel more rested and will reduce negative self talk/thoughts 3. gratitude. List off as many things as you can to be grateful for. Whether it at the start of every day, or when you've been up for the millionth time that night with baby. It will help to keep you grounded and know how well you are coping with everything you have going on during this transition to motherhood.
3. Don’t forget to ask for help and please don’t say ‘no’ when help is offered.
Guilty! But please don't see it as a failure. I never have asked for help- until I've hit a wall and been so overwhelmed with exhaustion. I've since learnt that whilst I am still struggling to ask for help, if someone offers, it's because they can genuinely see you struggling and want to help. I have a friend who is picking my 3 year old up every Friday for a few hours and taking him (and her daughter) to the nearby playgroup. It's changed my life. Something so simple, yet so profound on my ability to have a "break". I love all my children, and I have never questioned that, but I do find my 3rd child challenging and exhausting. The little break I get means I can reset and recharge and be energised for him when he returns.
4. Sleep is your greatest challenge so prioritise sleep for yourself over everything else.
This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge, as if you're not getting sleep, you can't prioritise it. Learn to rest, ask for sleep ins (where your partner/husband takes baby for a few hours in the morning so you can catch up). I would also suggest not over-committing, so you don't add to your exhaustion. ie. don't offer to cater for Christmas for 45 of your family with a 6 week old baby. Just don't! x
5. Eat well, be kind to yourself and take time to breathe. Housework is not important
House work is important if it's important to you. But you're going to have to reduce your expectations of what your new definition of "clean house" is. Get in a cleaner once a month to help out, make sure your partner/husband is aware of the tasks involved in keeping a house tidy, and write lists- so whether it's your other half, your mother or sister who drop in- they can all help to keep on top of things. I've had a cleaner, I've had family help out, I've made sure I've got lists so I can have help. I also make sure I have 3 MITs (most important tasks) that I need done everyday to feel "normal" or to help me cope. Some days my MITs might be: get dressed and showered, do washing up, cook dinner. Which reminds me- the slow cooker will be a friend of yours for many months (and if you don't have one- go to Target and grab one for $30). You'll be able to prepare dinner mid-morning when baby is most likely in a better mood.
6. You are not alone and there is great advice and support out there
Yes! Please never feel too proud to reach out. Peer support is what has helped us all.
7. Feeding is a full time job and don’t let people make you feel bad
Absolutely. You can be on the couch for most of the day. Also, make sure you have snacks/water and easy to grab frozen meals for feeding times.
8. Don’t isolate yourself. Get out and go for a walk or a coffee and find your tribe
There are many playgroups and mother's groups- so shop around, don't be scared (as there will be other newbies too) and find a tribe that resonates with you. You'll make friends for life!
9. Nothing prepares you for the love you will experience so try to soak it all in. Inhale their smell, relish their soft warmth and remember the giggles.
Yes! Your heart will live forever outside your body, and it's like nothing you've felt before.
10. You are an awesome mamma and you are everything your baby needs. You have got this !
You are awesome, you are loved and you are enough!