There is nothing that shakes up life as you know it as swiftly or as deeply as becoming a mother. The changes that arise from having a baby along with the ups and downs and challenges that accompany this period can sometimes mean that it can become a little overwhelming. It is navigating this tricky time that is the inspiration behind psychologist Belinda Williams co-founding The Bumpy Road, a practice that is entirely focused on mothers.
“Becoming a mother can be a very vulnerable and humbling experience. It can be such a transformative shift from how we have been living our lives—our routines, our relationship, our work/career, our body. We [Belinda and co-founder Tawna Tourle] saw so many women struggling with this adjustment,” says Belinda. “We wanted to create a business and a brand that women felt that they could connect to; where struggles were normalised and practical, and evidence based information was available. We felt that this would help women to access help earlier and therefore prevent unnecessary damage for women and their families who try to go it alone.”
Whether you’re a mum-to-be or a brand new mama it can help to arm yourself with the right strategies to navigate the path that is parenthood. Here Belinda shares her tips for dealing with life post-birth.
Coping with the life upheaval that comes after having a baby
“Each mother and child and family is different so I truly believe that there is not a one size fits all approach. We all have different needs, different resources, different children. It is really a matter of ensuring that you are informed, supported and also trusting your gut. I think that there is a lot of pressure on new mums to be both acing it and enjoying it. For many women, this is not the case. In fact there seems to be so many aspects that are out of your control that its easy to feel completely overwhelmed.”
Preparing yourself for baby’s arrival
In the months leading up to your little one’s birth it’s important to prepare yourself for what’s to come. Along with the fun elements such as preparing the nursery and shopping for cute clothes it’s a good idea to get ready mentally and emotionally to make the transition into motherhood. According to Belinda there are a few key things you can do…
Before your baby arrives
Speak to friends and family about what the transition is like—the good, the bad and the ugly. Focusing on only one part of the story is not helpful. But knowing what to expect can help manage your expectations and plan for the upcoming change.
Understand what are the non-negotiables for you and plan accordingly – it may be trying to remain active and getting the right equipment or finding post natal exercise classes you can try; or it may be mental stimulation such as listening to podcasts and TEDx talks whilst feeding. Whilst time is a rare commodity with a newborn, it is often a case of being preoccupied, not busy as such. In the melay, there will be micro opportunities to honour what matters to you.
After your baby arrives
Stay connected with your partner – this will provide you with the best chance to be on the same page and understand each other’s perspective and experience. It can be wildly different for the mother and the supporting partner and it’s easy to expect for them to know your needs. Often they don’t, so speak up and verbalise in (in the most neutral way possible!). Remember you are a team!
Getting out and about can seem near impossible but fresh air and sunshine (if you are lucky) can help to reset the clock and improve energy levels.
Saying yes when help is offered is tremendously liberating. People genuinely want to offer the support and any opportunity for a moment to yourself, a dinner taken care of or a dash up the shops can give you an enormous amount of relief.
Put your hand up for help if you are in need. There are so many great professional supports available including your GP, Psychologist, Physio, and private midwives. The earlier you ask for help, the better chance you have at getting the help you need and improving the wellbeing for you and the family unit.
What should you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? What are some strategies to deal with the challenging day-to-day reality of being a mum? Don’t miss Belinda’s column next week where she offers more valuable tips for new mums.