Expert Strategies for Coping with a New Baby
Therapy Project Meets Mumdays
Becoming a new mum is one of the most intense transitions you can make as a woman. From the shock of always being on call to the new challenges that seem to arise on a daily basis, new motherhood is as difficult as it is amazing.
But what if the key to feeling confident and content as a new mum began not with the baby but with looking after yourself? This is the opinion of Clinical Psychotherapist Jerilee Claydon, she says, ”When we start with ourselves everything else is much easier.”
She has shared some of her top tips with us on how to better deal with becoming a new mum. And actually, whether you’ve got a newborn or are sending your child to school, there’s a lot here we can all learn from.
Surrender to your new role
Life will never be the same again and nor should it be, forget trying to return to ‘normal’ you have a new normal now and it takes time getting to know it, getting ‘back’ to something is not only unachievable you’ll miss out on the experience of being in the moment as a new mother.
Don’t just prepare for childbirth, prepare for parenthood
We often get so focused on pushing the baby out when we’re pregnant that we completely overlook the fact we are going to be raising a human being. Preparing for your future as a mum and as parents instead of just being a couple is key to making sure you feel more aware of your decisions and as such more confident. Claydon says, “If you can attend a course with your partner that teaches you about the emotional demands on becoming parents you will prevent many conflicts that commonly arise.”
Take deep breaths
Screaming baby, explosive nappies, public meltdowns… all kinds of situations can make you get into a flap each day as a new mum. It can feel incredibly stressful because you want to rock your new role, but let’s be honest, sometimes it feels like we’re in over our heads. Claydon suggests deep breathing in moments of anxiety and self doubt. She says, “When you can calm your mind and apply meaning to what you are doing it immediately eases away anxieties.”
Remember the postpartum experience is a long journey
It’s easy to think that once your body has recovered from pregnancy and childbirth that you’re out of the woods when it comes to things like post natal depression and feeling in control of motherhood, but Claydon says PND can strike up to 4 years in so be aware of this if you are finding your new life and motherhood a challenge.
It’s really hard to admit when we are feeling out of our depth or lonely or depressed, but Claydon is a huge champion of talking therapies, and having all had a rant to our NCT buddies, we know that there’s something in it.
Ask for help if you need it
Whether you need help with the cleaning, the weekly shop, babysitting or learning how to express your milk, there are people out there who are able and willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
It’s especially important to ask for help if you feel you might be suffering from Post Natal Depression – and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. She says, “Postpartum therapy isn’t advice or a judgment or a guide on how to care for your baby, it’s an opportunity to explore what it’s REALLY like to be you.
By talking it through and learning some calming techniques, a mother can manage even the toughest days making sense of it all and learning to cope with disappointments.”
Make your relationship a priority
If you find your relationship is suffering, don’t despair, in fact around 69% of new parents experience conflict. It can be a stressful time having a young baby and as Claydon says, “We all have a simple core need to feel nourished” and cared for and caring for each other can easily slip to the bottom of the to do list.
When your baby is born it’s easy to think that this new person deserves your undivided attention but it’s really important to keep checking in with your partner and your relationship in order to weather the ups and downs of new parenthood.
Meditation is your secret weapon
It might not sound like meditation and new motherhood go together, babies hardly conjure a peaceful environment, however Claydon insists that even just a 3 minute daily ritual can make a huge difference.
“Firstly I would suggest practicing saying an incantation which is similar to an affirmation but you use your emotion and body while saying it, so while walking with the buggy you could say the words to your inner self in a rhythm to your walking and really engage with the words emotionally – believe them.” Things like “I am a good mum” or “I am strong” are a great place to start.
Be kind to yourself
We can be extremely scathing of our own shortcomings and over think every wrong decision we’ve made as mums, but Claydon is a huge advocate of being kind to yourself and challenging that inner negativity. “As you go through the changes as a mother you can begin to lack confidence, practicing an incantation can help change any negative beliefs.”
We definitely believe taking time for yourself and being kind to yourself is essential to feel happy and fulfilled as a mother. We all need some downtime and metime and that doesn’t change as a new mother – in fact it intensifies the need. So don’t feel guilty when you’re doing something just for you. You deserve it.