Guest Post: Looking After Yourself After Having a Baby
This is a guest post from Robyna at The Mummy and the Minx.
I remember being heavily pregnant with my first child. I had been blessed with an easy pregnancy and I adored my bump. It was with great pride that I would show it off, tenderly rubbing my growing tummy. As someone who has never had a great deal of curvature, I felt gorgeous and womanly.
Then I had my darling child and my relationship with my body changed. I still sported a bump, but the baby was clearly in my arms. I had naively believed that I would shrink straight back to my pre-pregnancy size through the magic of breast feeding. That didn’t occur and the maternity dresses that I once loved now felt mocking and frumpy. All my attention, and everyone else’s, was firmly upon our new addition. I didn’t care a great deal how I looked, and nobody else seemed to either. If I paused to look at myself in the mirror, I was never particularly kind to my reflection. Pregnant, I felt like a testament to fertility and womanhood, post-partum I felt like a glorified feeding machine surviving on magnums (the ice-cream, not champagne kind) and no sleep.
I don’t think I am alone in this feeling after having a child. We are bombarded with images of starlets back in size 6 jeans three days after giving birth and we accept that as a realistic standard. Rather than embracing the incredible, incredible feat my body had achieved, I was angry at it for not snapping back as quickly as I wanted.
When pregnant your uterus expands to up to 500 times it’s usual size. That is a huge amount of growth and it takes about six weeks for it to contract again. It takes longer again to lose the baby weight itself. There are those who do sport a flat tummy not long after birth and there are those that never will again – we are all different. But our bodies have all achieved something amazing.
Taking care of ourselves through gentle exercise and allowing ourselves a little “me” time after having a baby is not selfish. It is essential for well-being. I will admit that my initial impetus for exercise after having a baby was to lose the weight. However, after I started exercising I realised that the benefits went much further. My mood improved, and therefore so did my baby’s. I felt lighter and more confident. I was able to connect with other mothers who had little ones my age.
Mothers are vulnerable in those precious few months after birth. Our worlds change. Our bodies change. Our hormones change. Our priorities change. Everything is turned around. It is important that we are gentle with ourselves and our expectations of ourselves. It is also important that we retain a sense of who we are. Exercise helped me with that.
If you are a new mum to a young baby, struggling with body image, please be kind to yourself. When you look in the mirror and yearn for the firmer tone of days gone by, think about the amazing things your body has done. Listen to your body and respect it. Nurture it, just as you nurture your baby. Be careful and do not push yourself beyond what is kind. Talk to your GP before you embark on any exercise programs. Check in with your feelings and if you are drowning, put up your hand and ask for help.
Robyna May writes as one half as the Mummy and the Minx, a blog dedicated to empowering mothers and inspiring minxes. She writes about getting the mojo back into your life after kids and expanding possibilities when they contract after having babies. Her passions are writing and creating beautiful things. She has unkempt hair, a crazy, messy house, a racing brain and a heart overflowing with love.
How Can Health Insurance Help?
Your GP is a good port of call if you feel overwhelmed after having a baby, especially if you have symptoms of Post Natal Depression (PND). One in seven new mothers will experience PND and it’s more common after a first baby.
Symptoms will depend on how severe the illness is but can include feeling inadequate and guilty, negative thoughts, feeling unable to cope with your baby and everyday life, feeling tearful and irritable, insomnia, low sex drive, anxiety, panic attacks and lack of concentration.
Your GP can refer you to a professional counsellor, who can help you to deal with your feelings. Extras cover with Psychology benefits will be needed for this, and as there is often a two-month waiting period before you’re covered, it’s worth already having this in place prior to the birth in case PND develops.
Some health funds offer support programs for new mothers to help them to adjust to their new situation. This can be used for any post-birth worries and can be particularly beneficial for anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that new mums may face. To access this type of support, you will usually need to have hospital or combined hospital and extras cover with the health fund in question. It’s worth factoring this into your health insurance comparison if you plan to have children and feel that you would benefit from a support program.
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