Q: I gave birth to my son 8 months ago, and although I am loving being a Mum, I feel so exhausted all the time. I sometimes wonder will I ever feel normal again?
Seeing the latest celebrity new Mum emerge from the hospital in her pre-baby skinnies and glowing skin, it can make the rest of us feel a little inadequate. Despite the glorious little bundle that is our baby, we stumble though the day in a haze of exhaustion and mood swings, while sporting sunken eyes and maternity jeans even though our newborn is, well, no longer a newborn.
The truth is, paying attention to post natal recovery is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. Do not underestimate the impact nine months of pregnancy and the marathon of childbirth has on a body. In most traditional cultures, women who have just given birth spend at least several weeks ‘in confinement’ where they rest in seclusion, with no activities except feeding, bonding with their child and eating nourishing foods. These women know they need to do this in order to recover their energies and be well equipped to start their new life as a mother.
When we ‘don’t feel right’ we know it is our body trying to communicate with us. Taking simple steps to help restore your own energies, even if it is many months (or years) since you gave birth, can make a dramatic difference to your wellbeing.
Sleep is when your body repairs itself, but unfortunately babies don’t make this very easy. So while you are recovering, you should go to bed earlier and take naps as often as possible.
Your food is your fuel. Make wise choices and avoid quick-fix foods such as sugar, caffeine and processed snacks which only lead to blood sugar imbalances. Make it a priority to eat well, include protein with every meal (especially breakfast) and enjoy plenty of green leafy vegetables to replenish iron, calcium and other vital nutrients. Don’t exclude fats – our hormones and brains rely on dietary fat to exist, so avocadoes, nuts, seeds and oily fish are excellent additions to a varied diet.
Walking outside every day will help clear the mind and energise the body. Do not undertake a vigorous exercise regime to ‘lose the baby weight’ until you feel ready – you will only deplete yourself further.
It is completely normal to feel tired, be carrying a left over baby weight and be a little emotional in the weeks and months after giving birth. Everyone is the same, but most will not admit it! Take time to love and nurture yourself…who cares even if those skinnys will stay in the wardrobe for another few months, you made a new person, you’re amazing!