They say it takes a village to raise a child, which in today’s society, can often feel quite far from reality. We come home from hospital with our shiny new babies, have a few weeks of visitors, then find ourselves living somewhat independently again, relatively isolated from the outside. Our “village” of people isn’t always right there in front of us. Relationships and networks of support now seemingly need to be called on, actively nurtured and harnessed.
The whole village mentality leans on the notion that a number of people can offer value to a baby when it enters the world and as it grows into a child. Personally, I also found this village of people (not to be confused with The Village People) started to help me on my journey, well before the birth – with some cracking tips and tricks that have proven absolutely invaluable.
A great tip from my ‘village’ of people came via social media from an aunt overseas (I love that we’ve evolved into an e-village these days). She imparted the learning from her own experience in having a newborn, that looking after your Self (i.e. having a massage, taking a bath, reading a book, doing something that stimulates your mind) can often leave you feeling guilty, as it’s time away from the baby. She brought light to the fact that investing in your Self as a mother is actually indirectly investing in your baby (who relies almost entirely on you and also your emotional state). So each time I felt (or still feel!) a pang of guilt in the first few days and weeks of having a baby, I reminded myself about what she had said about investment in one’s Self. I literally used this guilt-feeling-moment as a signpost to stop and flip my internal dialogue to “no, there’s no guilt to be felt here. We’ll both be better off if I’m operating at a higher level emotionally, and this is something which will help me do that.” This advice came to be (and still is) so helpful.
An ex colleague of mine shared her experience of using feeding time as mindfulness time. As it’s relatively quiet and usually takes at least 20-30 minutes, feeding time acted as a quiet and reflective time where she could decompress, focus on her breathing and let thoughts flow past and move on (essentially like meditation).
Finally, when I was pregnant, I spoke to a hypnobirthing consultant about the insecurity I was feeling about my changing identity, and that my significance as a human was about to be seriously impacted. I asked her what I could do to manage the change in who I “was”… to now becoming a mother (something totally different and unknown). She told me to ask my partner and family members to reaffirm my significance as a human (outside of being a mother) and find ways to remind me about the significant value I bring to the world. See the thing is, people probably think all this great stuff, but might not say it out loud. When you’re a new mother, this sort of thing can truly elevate and nurture your emotional wellbeing – and it’s relatively simple to achieve.
Interestingly, a lot of the above didn’t come as ‘unsolicited advice’ (of which there’s plenty around while you’re pregnant and then nursing a new baby). Rather I took time to notice the people who’s approach to life resonated with me, a way I admired. And I spoke to health professionals, and I actively sought advice by asking them, “What’s one thing I can do to help my emotional wellbeing when I have a new baby.”
Help often comes from new and even unexpected places. There are some great resources out there for women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby, including Bupa’s new mummatters mobile tool. mummatters is designed to help women look after their emotional wellbeing during this time, which can help make a real difference to them and their baby. The tool is easy to use, totally confidential, and has been developed with leading researchers, specialists, mums and mums-to-be. It’s a really good way of helping women stay strong and feel in control of their own emotional health.
Given this post is about a village raising a child (and helping new mothers), it seems like a good opportunity to seek your advice – I would love you to comment below on one thing that helped your emotional wellbeing when you had a new baby.
This is a sponsored post of my personal experience during and after pregnancy, I’m delighted to continue to work closely with Bupa on health and emotional wellbeing through this exciting new chapter of my life.