On this long, exhausting, arduous but rewarding journey of motherhood, there’s a lot to learn. One of the most crucial things I’ve learnt is the importance of self-care. Now to a lot of mummies, this sounds like a paradox. I can hear you asking, ‘How could I in good conscience spend time taking care of myself when I have little babies who need me?’ The answer is simple, and something that took me the hard way to learn; I need to be at 100% before I can give 100%. When I found out I was expecting BabyJ I knew the first thing I needed to do was to have a plan of action – to actively take charge of my mental well being.
I need to be at 100% before I can give 100%!
This was surprisingly easy to do, a lot easier than many of you might think. Now, I couldn’t do this alone again and so I needed professional help. My friends have used and recommended the Midwife services of the Community Birth Program (CPB), and I was convinced I needed to have a midwife through this pregnancy, to monitor my health and help deliver the baby. It was the best decision I could have made, the midwives at CPB are amazing, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience and I felt very well taken care of throughout the pregnancy and post-partum. They were available 24/7 and even did home visits after BabyJ was born.
My first pregnancy was completely healthy and was a natural birth, all except for the PND that came along post-partum. The midwife took down my previous pregnancy history and referred me to the Reproductive Mental Health (RMH) unit, another great source of help and support. The counselor reached out to me and was able to help me work through anxiety inducing scenarios and learn to come to a solution. This helped me build a healthy thought process and use her techniques to manage situations before they cause anxiety. As I neared the end of the third trimester, the anticipation of a having a new baby and a toddler (plus the lack of sleep) meant I found myself getting more and more anxious approaching the due date.The psychiatrist at RMH introduced me to a book- Coping with Anxiety during Pregnancy and following the Birth (you can grab yourself a copy here). The book, at first, was really hard to read, to see in black and white the symptoms and thoughts I was having as something very real. At the same time, it was actually a relief to read, as it made me feel hope, hope that I will be able to get through the PND. After reading the book (twice) I was able to describe my thoughts and feelings to the counselor and psychiatrist and in turn, they were able to understand what I was going through and help me. I was introduced to the N.E.S.T.S (nutrition, exercise, sleep, time for self and socializing) system of self-care which kept me on track to look after myself.
After having BabyG, I was on my feet too quick and should’ve taken some time to rest and recover it meant that I was pushing myself too hard and coupled with being sleep deprived it was not a good combination! In order to look after myself better, I wanted my mum (who doesn’t!). She was on notice that she needed to come and stay with me after BabyJ was born to help me take care of myself and the babies. We were pleasantly surprised by BabyJ as he arrived 3 weeks and 1 day before his due date and so my mum was called in earlier too. It was so great to have her here it made me feel so relaxed and well taken care of. It also allowed me to regain my strength and build a routine with the kids and manage my anxiety.
Before I sign-off, I would like to ask all my mummy readers to do something nice for yourself whether you catch up with a friend, go for a walk or cozy up with a good book, take some time out for You! I really believe that taking care of yourself first will help you to better take care of your family and a happy mummy is a sane mummy! Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a special series of blogs, each focusing on an area of the N.E.S.T.S system and how I incorporated each element of it into my life and self-care.
Take care and happy reading!
Disclaimer: Please seek professional medical help if you are suffering from anxiety and depression, I am not a medical professional, all opinions and advice in this post are my own.