Hello New Mum!
Firstly, congratulations on your new baby!
Everyone expects a new mum to be happy, and there is an element of that, of course, but what if we experience other emotions?
- Fear – what if we are not good mothers?
- Anxiety – what if I can’t look after my new baby?
- Frustration – can’t people see I’m trying to cope with a new baby? or I don’t know what to do!?
There are a few patterns that emerge in many New Mums regarding this mix of emotions, and there are some simple practices that help them cope better with them. Meaning that they are able to actually enjoy this time of transition, and their new baby.
These practises have been broken down into 5 steps below. Each step builds on each other, so to get the most out of this guide work through it step by step.
Hopefully this guide will help you become more confident in yourself, not only as a mother but as a person too.
Are you ready? Let’s jump in 😀
Are you the kind of person that is very hard on themselves?
Do you get annoyed and frustrated, maybe even out right angry, at yourself if you don’t do things right, or if you keep getting things wrong?
Going one step further, do you tell yourself off lots too using the following type of language?;
“You’re so stupid! You should have known better!!”
“Look at all the jobs you haven’t done!”
“You’re so useless sometimes”
“You don’t deserve ______________” (fill in the blank)
Write down 5 things you say to yourself that you would NEVER EVER dream of saying to someone else:
1._________________________________________________________________________ 2._________________________________________________________________________ 3._________________________________________________________________________ 4._________________________________________________________________________ 5._________________________________________________________________________
How do you feel having written these down? What reaction do you think you would get from, for example, your best friend if you said the above things to them? Spend a few minutes jotting down a few words here:
___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
If your self-talk is bad, and if what you have said to yourself, you would never say to anyone else, ask yourself
“Why is it ok to talk to yourself like this?”
Self-compassion is one of the most important wellbeing practices, with research consistently showing that greater self-compassion is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, few of us actually practice it.
What we tell our minds, we believe. Our words turn into scripts and these stories determine what our lives become.
In our everyday lives, there will always be people who are quick to judge us, tell us off, criticise us, block us, hinder us, hurt us, damage us, and so on. So what do we do? We join in with them! We’re not even on our own side, we don’t even support ourselves. If anything, we are harsher to ourselves than anyone else is.
THIS CHANGES NOW!
You now have a little person in your life who will change absolutely everything. You have a new identity now, and your life will not be the same again.
What we forget is that change takes time.
When you started school, you had to learn to be away from home, learn to be in a classroom, learn to learn, learn to be with other children etc.
When you started driving, you took lessons, had practice drives, did a test and still you continue to learn.
Maybe when you started a new job, you had an induction, settle-in time, things were explained to you, your manager guided you, maybe you had a team to support your work, maybe you were given a desk etc.
Think of a time of change in your life that you have gone through.
Was it difficult at the time?
How did you get through it?
How did you cope?
Having a baby and embracing your new identity as Mum is the same, and self-compassion will be your best tool to start with.
Self-compassion, simply put, is being kind to yourself, supporting yourself, and being caring towards yourself instead of harshly judging and isolating yourself. These practices help build your resilience, which is an important tool for protecting yourself in hard and difficult times.
So next time you start the negative self-talk, think how you would talk to your best friend, your partner – or your new baby.
After all, you wouldn’t tell your new baby off for not running a marathon right now would you?
Take the time you need, the space you need and give yourself the care and kindness you need during this time of change. And don’t worry if self-compassion doesn’t come easily to you at first, it is something that can be learned and built upon. So keep practising self-compassion, it will soon come easily.
- Time for you
This is an essential part of maintaining good mental health, as relaxation, or time out, reduces stress, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety.
All too often we are so busy doing things for everyone else, we forget to look after ourselves. We work so very hard all year then maybe, if you’re really lucky, you get 2 weeks off.
How about having a little ‘holiday’ every day?
Can you even imagine that? Resting when you need to, doing something fun every day, creating a life that you actually want and makes you feel amazing in yourself. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
All this can be achieved from simple time management.
Maybe you are already really organised but have you allocated time just for you? As in actually blocked out time, like a doctor’s or midwife’s appointment? An appointment for you? If you create space to spend time just with yourself, you will be able to stop, breathe and look at the bigger picture of your life.
Are your needs being met? If not, which ones are not and what can you do about it? Are you getting enough rest? Especially important if baby keeps waking you in the night. Also, don’t forget, we need more rest at a time of change / transition as we are learning new things and our brains are working harder as you think about, and take new things on. Are you playing enough? Are you doing things that keep you YOU? What fun things can you do by yourself, and with baby (then maybe with other loved ones)?
Use a diary and block time out when you need or want to do things.
If you get overwhelmed at the amount of things you have in one day, spread it out over the week. Still overwhelmed? Spread it over the month. Ideally, just have one ‘thing’ to do a day and build on it. Remember not to beat yourself up if you achieve nothing. Self-compassion, remember!
You will not forget appointments this way, you will take away that feeling of not having enough time, of not having enough hours in the day. Instead, this will help you feel calmer and actually show you how much you are coping with and managing.
By managing your time, YOU can create the life you want. YOU book in what you need, YOU can say no to things that do not serve you.
YOU are in charge of your thoughts and feelings, your actions, your appointments. Your appointments in your diary will show you what you are giving time to, what you are seeing as a priority and stop the feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and get rid of that ‘I don’t have the time!!’ feeling.
“Everyone is looking at me and thinking what a bad mother I am.”
We all think it but in reality, everybody else is simply trying to cope with their own emotions and their new baby.
In reality, we judge ourselves the most.
So the first step is looking at what a good mother is. Write down a few words or sentences defining what being a good mother means to you:
___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
Now have a look at what you have written and ask yourself these questions:
- Are these my beliefs or someone else’s?
- Where did I learn about motherhood from?
- Does what I have learned resonate with me, or do I believe this because society says so?
- Am I trusting my own instincts with my own child?
Having a look at what you have learned and what is being said to you will help you decide what kind of mum you want to be.
This is may be the first time you are a mum, and you are probably being given great well-meaning advice from everyone you know – maybe even from people you pass by in the street! But just like anything else in life; YOU choose how you want to be as a mum.
How do you achieve this?
If you go at YOUR pace, create space, and are self-compassionate, you will learn to start hearing what your needs are, and most importantly, hearing your own motherly instincts coming through.
You have full permission to trust and follow these instincts.
If you want to co-sleep, then co-sleep.
If you don’t want to do the controlled crying, then don’t.
If you want to take them swimming, then do.
Having confidence in yourself and your instincts will make you so much happier in yourself, and the cherry on top?
If you know your truth, you will not feel judged. If someone is judging you, you will soon realise it is their perception, clouded by their insecurities and NOT you.
You’ve got this.
Who is in your support network?
Think about that for a moment and write them down:
__________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
Are these people around you supporting you in the way YOU need? Studies have shown that connecting with loved ones does help you feel happier, with social connectedness being a strong and consistent predictor of wellbeing.
When a new baby comes into the household, everything changes. Even the dynamics between you and your partner will change. It is very important to be aware of these new dynamics and manage the change.
It’s important that your support network is working for you, as people with high social support have better emotional well-being, because they are more able to cope with any problems or emotional distress they experience.
Have a think about your support network and ask yourself these questions:
- Am I being listened to?
- Do I feel drained or energised after seeing people from my network?
- Are they respecting my boundaries?
- Do I need to set some emotional boundaries? Maybe even making appointments in my diary if some are taking too much of my time?
There are a lot more questions you can ask yourself, but the important thing is that you are concentrating on looking after yourself first. If you are not on top form, you might not be able to give as much as you want to your new baby.
Remember the safety messages when you are on an aeroplane? Put your own oxygen mask on first before anyone else.
You have permission to live your life YOUR way by being lovingly assertive and creating boundaries if needed.
Once you have created time and space to think and be, you can start looking at the bigger picture, asking yourself questions like:
- What kind of person do I want my baby to see me as?
- What kind of family do I want to have? (and not what society is telling me!!)
- What are my dreams?
- What do I want to achieve?
By managing your time, creating boundaries and getting time to yourself, you can start doing 1 thing every day, or every week to create the picture you want, to reflect the life you want. This will take a long time and it is an on-going practice, but don’t give up.
As cliché as it sounds, it is all about the journey.
Hopefully these 5 steps will help you become a confident new mum, help you enjoy your baby and the time you have together and create a life that is more in line with what you need, making you happier and more authentic.
Please do share with anyone you may think will benefit from these 5 steps and if you need some extra emotional support, please look through and use the helplines at the end of this guide.
Enjoy your new baby and being a new mum.
The best but hardest job in the world <3
Helplines and resources
Samaritans: 116 123 (24 hours) www.samaritans.org.uk
999 or go to A&E
Shout crisis text line: text SHOUT to 85258
Targeted Family Support: Worcestershire County Council. For families with children with complex needs. Delivers intensive family support.
Worcestershire healthy minds: free app on the App Store and Google play
Redditch NCT: firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Lives: 0808 800 2222 (Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-3pm). www.familylives.org.uk advice on all aspects of parenting
FamilyLine: (Mon-Fri 6pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-1pm)
Phone: 0808 802 6666
Text: 07537 404 282
Mums in Mind: 024 7601 7234 for women who are pregnant or have a child under one year old.
Mummy Boost: @mummyboostuk on facebook- a non-judgemental support group
Healthy Minds: 0300 302 1313. Help improve wellbeing through a range of interventions, including short courses, online therapy, and guided self-help
Mind: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm). www.mind.org.uk
5 ways to wellbeing: free app on the App Store and Google play
Headspace: free app on the App Store and Google play
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri 9:30am-5:30pm). www.anxietyuk.org.uk
Support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition
Cruse Bereavement care: 0844 477 9400 www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
Miscarriage Association: 01924 200799 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm)
This guide was produced by JP Wellbeing.