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5 things I have learnt about myself as a mother

7 Dec 2015 12:36 PM -

What motherhood has taught me (so far)...

2015 is almost over, and I can’t believe what a big year it has been, as it's quite possibly been for you too.  If you have been in the LaVida Loop for a few months you may know I joined Kaye at LaVida Health earlier in the year and then had my first baby this past May.  It has been an amazing experience, however one I was terribly unprepared for, which I am to understand is how most new mothers feel! 

During my pregnancy, I obsessed over the birth process.  I could not wait for labour to see what my body could do.  I was excited to see how it would all play out and to test my pain threshold (cue laughter from those who have been there and done that!). 

So for nine months the labour was all I thought about.  I watched countless hours of birthing shows (much to my partner’s dismay) and felt like I was across all possible scenarios.   It turns out labour was a test, and yes in hindsight it was a wonderful experience, but in the moment, it was also horrendous.  There is no other word for it.  Now that I’ve seen what my body can do, I think if there is a next time, I may experience some trepidation leading up to the birth rather than the excitement that only ignorance can bring. It doesn't matter how good your birth plan is (and I still recommend one), once things start to happen, your baby is in charge.  Thankfully, hormones soften the memory of labour so that women will agree to do it again.  

Also in hindsight, for my countless hours of planning for labour, I realise not once did I actually consider what it would be like to have a child, and wow, what a shock! And what a learning experience!

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about myself as a new mother:

Sleep deprivation does not look good on me

Dark circles, dirty hair and a short fuse pretty much sum it up!  Thankfully google provides countless forums of fellow mothers seeking answers to the elusive (and mythical) full night’s sleep which does provide some comfort knowing you are not alone.

Apparently 5 hours of straight sleep is considered ‘sleeping through the night’ for a baby – outrageous!  Being a naturopath, I have made good use of some wonderful herbs to help aid sleep.  So if you are literally sleeping like a baby, come and see me for some naturopathic advice and herbal medicines. I have of course restrained myself from prescribing these for my son, I appreciate he needs to learn how to sleep.  I just hope I don’t forget!

Routine versus demand parenting – it turns out I like a little of both

There appears to be two very opposing sides to child rearing.  One side is all about structure and routines with the view to getting your baby to ‘sleep through the night’ and allow you to have some sanity during your days.  Then there is the baby led ideal.  Basically, looking for your baby's cues and following these in regards to wake and sleep patterns.

Having tried both, I now do a bit of both and try to be as flexible as possible.  Whilst it doesn’t help much with planning my own day, it makes for a much calmer baby which means a much happier mother!

The best advice I can give to any new mother out there is trust in yourself that you know what is best for you and your baby.  There is no ‘right’ way to do things and as long as your baby is nourished and nurtured, you are doing a great job.

Nothing raises my blood pressure like a crying baby

An inconsolable baby is heart breaking for any parent.  When you can’t console your crying baby, and google doesn’t seem to have the answer, amidst all the heartache you feel for your poor child, your blood pressure also goes through the roof.  I’m getting heart palpitations just recalling those times with my son when it seemed to go on for hours, days and weeks. 

My son had slightly uneven hips and reflux in the early weeks of his life, so I took him to a baby Chiropractor who did an amazing job in calming my baby with some very gentle manipulation (no cracking), and I helped my baby with his reflux with some age-appropriate herbs.  This did the trick within a couple of weeks and I was able to stay out of the cardiac ward.

Staying healthy is hard with a newborn

Whilst you are a feeding machine 24 hours a day, it really is hard to make sure you are eating right.  Even as a naturopath and knowing what I should be eating, it was still difficult to always make the right food choices.  Sleep deprivation does not inspire most of us to head down to the market to start preparing nutritious delicious meals every day. 

So my tip to staying healthy is to say YES to any offer of help and to also ask for help.  It took me a little while to learn this but I’m getting there and it has saved me from living on toast and biscuits for the last 6 months.

On the plus side, generally newborns like to fall asleep to movement.  Not surprising really given they have been in your uterus bobbing along for 9 months.  So, I, like countless other mothers are out with their prams or baby carriers walking the streets for hours on end.  Great for shifting the baby weight and getting some fresh air as well.

Being “Lee” is just as important as being a mother

I enjoy my quiet time, in fact I need my quiet time to recharge.  Without it I can lose my sense of self and become consumed with being a mother, forgetting I was someone before having a baby.  Reconnecting with yourself is so important for you, your relationship with your partner, family and friends, and also for your work.  

Raising a child is like working in a new job 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  And just like you need time out from work, you also need time out from your role as a mother.  Sitting quietly, closing your eyes and practicing deep breathing is a wonderful way to feel more refreshed, calm and grounded.  You don’t have to worry about whether you are meditating the right way or not, just sitting quietly is just as beneficial as practicing a particular meditation technique when you are time poor.

The last 6 months have been incredible and I wouldn’t have my life any other way.  I know I am incredibly lucky to have this beautiful little boy in my life and every day I am thankful for the opportunity to be his mother.  2015 has been by far the best year of my life and I cannot wait to see what is in store for 2016. Hmmm...more lessons perhaps?

If you or someone you know is planning for pregnancy in 2016, check out my Preconception Care Program or alternatively please don’t hesitate to call me to chat about your health goals for 2016.  I can be contacted on 03 9620 9503 or via the contact us page.

In good health,

Lee Copeland
Melbourne CBD


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