So you're a new mama. Congratulations! You've probabaly had visitors come and go to admire your baby, to coo and cuddle. And you've enjoyed, for the most part, their company and adoration for your gorgeous new baby. You grew this wonderful little creature and gave birth to him or her. You feel proud. You really do.
But why do you feel like crying 'I want my mummy'? Maybe you're feeling a little bit blue? Tired and overwhelmed? Like you just want someone to look after you?
Did you know that in other cultures a period of a month or more is spent mothering the mother? Did you know that you don't have to be superwoman and do everything and be everything to everyone? You certainly shouldn't be scurrying around making tea or lunch for visitors. Hey, you've just spent the last 9-10 months growing a whole human being and then giving birth. You are allowed to have a period of rest, as far as you can rest with a newborn baby. And certainly, no one is expecting you to to perform to your usual high standard of being superwoman. Well, no one except you. But you've gotta let go of your own high demands on yourself. You are entitled to feel that you need some looking after, and to let them.
The best way to be a good mother, is to be and feel well-supported, to be looked after by those closest to you, and, yes, to look after yourself. You see, it IS all about you. You and your new baby.
Most women learn to put themselves second, or last, to those around them. Most of us have watched our own mothers, or grandmothers, or aunts do this. Oh, it's just what women do. And it's what leads us to feel that we shouldn't expect too much, we shouldn't demand too much, and that we should apologise for asking for help. But you can't do the mothering without being 'mothered' in some form or other. So looking after you helps you to look after your baby. Win-win!
And as your baby gets older, your child will look at you and see that you are looking after youself, respecting yourself by allowing yourself a little time to meditate, to exercise, to read that book you've been given for Christmas, to get your hair done, to just enjoy a little bit of time for you. You can't run on empty and keep giving to everyone around you. By taking time for yourself, you are giving both you and and child a gift: giving yourself and teaching your child self-love and self-respect.
So, what are you going to do for you? What can you ask for help with so you feel supported?
If you have a tiny newborn, please don't scurry around making tea or lunch for your visitors. Welcome your guests and have them make you a cup of tea. If they ask if they can bring anything, don't say, 'oh no, just yourself.' Say yes, please bring some lunch. If they want to hold the baby, also get them to change the nappy for you while you go have a hot shower and put on fresh clothes that don't smell of breastmilk and spit up.
How about organising a lovely a massage at home, while a friend cuddles baby for a bit. Or have a nice warm bath while daddy has baby for stories after work. Whatever it is that you need, make sure you look after you, even for a short time everyday, because looking after you makes you a better mother and a happier person. And we all know that happy mama means happy baby.
Good luck mama. You are doing an amazing job.
- Gina Potts
Gina is Founder of ZenBirth, a KG Hypnobirthing instructor, Positive Birth Movement Group leader, Home Birth and Breastfeeding supporter, and mama to two smalls with boundless energy. In her not-so-spare time, Gina attends mindfulness yoga, walks the dog on the beach and is working on carving out more time for herself, starting with reading that great novel she was given for Christmas last year.