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belinda williams

Lifestyle

The biggest issues new mums will face and how to deal with them

18th October, 2017

Last week psychologist and co-founder of The Bumpy Road, Belinda Williams shared her tips for new mums and mums-to-be. This week, she’s got more practical and useful advice for those who are currently navigating their way through motherhood for the first time. Most especially when it comes to dealing with the overwhelming feeling that comes with being a mama and dealing with the reality of what it’s really like to care for a baby day in and day out (spoiler alert: it’s not all sunshine and rainbows like a nappy commercial!). If you’re a new mum read on for your survival guide for the first few months…

What should new mums do if they’re feeling overwhelmed?

It is so important to recognise that you are not alone. Not only do all new mums feel this way, there is most often people in your support network that are very willing to help out. Here are some ways to help manage these challenging feelings:

Set realistic expectations. Things seem to take exponentially longer to complete. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything, instead prioritise what is most important and target your energies here.
Make time for yourself/self care. It’s hard to do but oh-so important! It may be a small activity like an extended bath, body scrub or washing your hair, a coffee up the shops solo or a walk around the block with your partner. Micro moments can be magically restorative.
Avoid isolation. Try to connect with other mums and talk to them about their experience. It can help to see that others are having challenges too and often gives you better perspective on your own experience.
Ask for help. Try to open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help. It is not a time to be a hero and the only person you let down when you push through the pain is yourself.

Often the fantasy of becoming a mum is different to the day to day reality of motherhood and some women may feel a little disillusioned by the experience. What are some ways to deal with this? 

Women are often shocked by how consuming and relentless being a parent can be. Each women has a different remedy. This may include:


Look at what it is that you are missing from life before your baby—is it the mental stimulation of work, the relevance beyond the home, the lack of freedom in being able to just walk out the door—maybe all of these? Look for ways that you can reestablish this within your routine as a mother. It may not be in the same form but there is often different opportunities that we have not had to consider before.
Be patient—this adjustment in self concept can take time and is not always pleasant. Try not to make the mistake that challenging feelings mean that things are not going well or that motherhood is not for you. These feelings are common as it is a very stressful and demanding time. If you are worried about how difficult you are finding the transition into motherhood, speak with a professional to navigate these thoughts and feelings.
Make plans—it may be for a holiday, your return to work, a night out with friends. Motherhood is not all or nothing. Eventually you will find a way to weave back in aspects of your life that you enjoyed. Making plans for this can be empowering.
Be selective about what information you are consuming. If you are evaluating your experience of motherhood against Instagram tiles, look elsewhere. This is only a narrow reflection on moments of motherhood and not the gold standard. If it is impacting you negatively then maybe switch off for a while.

Some new mums may miss their old life and the freedom that they had. Is this a normal feeling to have? What are some ways to deal with it? And what should they do if they feel they’re not settling into their new life at all? 

I think that this is pretty common. I remember being pretty bewildered when my first child arrived and asking my mum (probably with a few tears running down my face!), “how does anyone get anything done?!”. It is such a sudden and significant shift in pretty much every domain of your life so even if you are ready for it, you want it and it is where you want to be, it is normal to feel very shaken and destabilised by the seismic adjustment that takes place. Talk to others about how you are feeling.

Caring for a newborn is a steep learning curve and some women may start to feel self-doubt about their abilities as as mum at times. What can be done to address this? 

I think that all new mothers suffer a crisis in confidence. Firstly everything is new and secondly there is so much conflicting information coming at you even within the hospitals. I think it can be helpful to identify a few trusted people and resources and use that as a starting point. But most commonly women experience the greatest distress when they feel disempowered to trust their own instinct. I am a big advocate of trusting your gut and nowhere seems more natural to do this than when caring for a newborn. If in doubt, then of course, seek advice and do this early. It is often just small adjustments that make the world of difference and help us recover and restore our confidence.

Becoming a new mum often means having to deal with a new identity in some ways as you try and blend the old you and the new you. What can women do if they feel a little lost during this process? 

It is exactly that, a process and one that takes time. I think motherhood is a constant time of adjustment and readjustment as our children grow. Very rarely does the learning and changing plateau. This is an experience quite unique to the world of parenthood. There will be parts of your life before children that you no longer connect with and enjoy and there will be parts of life as a mother which you never imagined would bring you joy, but insanely they do. Whilst these changes can be confronting and challenging, it can help to approach it with curiosity rather than judgement. You always have choice even if the options on face value seem more limited to begin with. Try to start out prioritising the things that are most important to you and look at how you can maintain them (perhaps in a different format). Motherhood is a journey not a destination.

Lifestyle

What new mums need to know

11th October, 2017

Belinda Williams’ (left) practice The Bumpy Road helps women navigate the ups and downs of motherhood

 

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.