Being a mum is hard work. Not only is there a little person 100% dependent on you, but your confidence and your health can take a big beating. Struggling with confidence and wanting to feel more comfortable in your skin is a completely natural way to feel. But, when it comes to caring for our kids, it’s vital to remember one thing: to care for another, you need to care for yourself.
A Life Of Juxtapositions
The baby is delicious. No amount of reading or researching will ever prepare you for how you’ll feel once your baby is in your arms. Also, no amount of reading or researching will ever prepare you for how tired you will be, how much a toll pregnancy and looking after another human will take on your mind and your body, or how your body confidence will completely change.
Yes, you’re a warrior for just giving birth to a child. But it’s also unlikely that your body will ever be the same again. This doesn’t mean you can’t feel confident in your new-found awesome skin.
How You May Feel
Many new mums go through a huge range of emotions as they figure out their new lives. It can be hard to find even a minute during the day for yourself. In a UK survey taken with new mums, many women said lack of self-confidence was a huge issue for them. Mums complained about their post-baby body, wishing they could get more sleep and find some time to treat themselves.
For many, exercise would play a huge role in finding their self-confidence again, as would finding time in the morning to get ready, looking like their old self again.
Finding Your Groove
Being comfortable in your own skin is a huge part of being a mum. But it takes time and effort to get there. The most important thing is to run your own race. The mum next to you may feel herself again after six weeks, while you may take a little longer. That’s okay! Finding your new groove is all about balancing your mind and your body.
Working Your Mind
Pregnancy and parenting take a lot out of you mentally. While everyone can see the physical effects they have on your body, very few understand the mental and emotional toll. It’s completely normal to feel a bit down. Everything is new and your mind needs time to process this. Hormones and exhaustion can wreak havoc on your system. But there are some things you can do.
- Get outside
Fresh air can do wonders for you. It also can do wonders for your baby. There’s something about being outside that seems to soothe newborns. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous exercise, popping baby in the pram and going for a stroll has been proven to improve mood and memory. And we all know how baby brain can affect our memory!
- See people
Being home alone all day is horrible, especially when looking after another human being. Find some other mums with babies of a similar age and meet up. You don’t necessarily have to go out, meet at each other’s homes. There’s something about moaning and groaning with like-minded people, knowing that they are going through everything that you are, that seems to alleviate stress.
- Make time for you and your partner
‘Me time’ is crucial in the early stages of parenthood. Not only does it allow other family members, including your partner, time to bond with the baby, but it also gives you time to relax. Have a bath, go to the gym, or just head back to bed for cat-nap. It’s also important to make some time for you and your partner. Whether it’s handing the child to a family member to babysit, or ensuring you have dinner together at least once a week, having that alone time will do wonders for your confidence and mental health.
Finding Your Physical Strength
The first thing to remind yourself of is that you carried and birthed a baby. If that’s not extreme strength, I’m not sure what is. Give your body time to adapt and give yourself time to come to terms with your new body.
So here’s what you can do:
- Find your new style
Your body may never be the same, but you can adjust your style to suit it. There’s nothing worse than ill-fitting clothes to make you feel self-conscious. Don’t feel guilty for spending a bit of money finding the clothes that fit you and that you feel comfortable in.
- Invest in your health
Whether it’s a couple of mums and bubs classes at the gym or some massage or physical therapy, investing in yourself will work wonders. Exercise really does release endorphins so even though they will take their toll on your body at first, the more you go, the better you’ll feel.
- Consider what you’re eating
If you’re breastfeeding, you can get ravenous. But there’s no point bingeing on the unhealthy sugars. Have healthy snacks on hand and drink plenty of water. Consider stocking the freezer with some healthy options too so you’re less likely to rely on take away.
- Rest, rest, rest
In both cases, heading to bed earlier will also help. Getting more sleep is a simple way to improve your energy levels, which can greatly impact how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Statistics say that the average Australian gets just five hours of sleep a night. Add a newborn to the mix and these hours largely diminish. Try to go to bed as early as possible to try and mitigate the disrupted sleep.
While advice from family and friends may seem well-meaning, at the end of the day, you know yourself and you need to back yourself. Listen to your gut, listen to your baby and trust your instincts. Nothing oozes confidence like a mum who just goes for it!
If all else fails, fake it till you make it.