The 5 Things That Stress a Mother The Most
As if we needed even more stress than growing a responsible human
Have you ever wondered what you would do differently if you could travel back in time to those first postpartum months?
I do it all the time, and this is why I’m writing articles to empower women, and families in general, to make an informed decision and understand what is good for them instead of following silly rules dictated by social expectations. When Luna was born I found myself hosting at my own place, being a counsellor for some friends, and skipping meals in order to be able to rush from here to there and be productive in between. It didn’t take me long to realise I couldn’t keep up with that lifestyle, as my body was depleted, my brain was fully overwhelmed, and my baby was quickly turning into a crying nightmare.
A stressor is defined as something that causes strain or tension. It can be an experience, event or a stimulus that causes stress in an individual, as they are perceived as physical or psychological challenges or threats.
I did realise there were some stressors that were interacting with the way I was living and they were preventing me from having the best postnatal experience. I allowed myself some time to work out what they were and I listed them down.
Once they were in black and white, and in front of my eyes, I started tackling them, one after the other. It was a domino effect and as soon as I started taking charge of my feelings, I noticed my mood and my life changing for the better.
“Honey, you need to start giving your baby some formula”. Thanks, but no thanks. This is an example of one of the zillions advice I have heard since giving birth; they obviously started way before I got pregnant, they did intensify throughout my pregnancy (“nauseous? You clearly need to eat meat and vitamin C”), and they went out of control after I had Luna. I know people mean well, and I tried not to take those comments personally, but sometimes they really got to me. They made me doubt myself as a mother and made me feel quite incapable. That’s when I decided to draw a line, and I started replying “Thanks” and move away or change conversation OR “Thanks, but I didn’t ask”.
I’m not going to lie, I faced quite a few disappointed people, but at least they didn’t bother me again with their unfiltered thoughts.
Undernourishment and dehydration
I’m a nutritionist, and I do believe these are the 2 worse stressors for a new mother, as the lack of them can lead to fatigue, sleep issues, lack of mental clarity and to the inability of the body to heal itself.
Water is required by every cell of the body; it is specifically needed by the brain for optimal functioning which means that the less you drink, the less clever you will be. Drinking water assists the increase of blood flow and oxygen, reduce stress, maintain memory function and improve cognition. Aim for at least 30mL of water multiplied by your body weight in kg. If you are breastfeeding, you need to increase that amount by 700mL. (at least).
Foods must be easy to digest and warm (especially during the first 6 months postpartum). Go organic whenever you can, make breakfast and lunch the main meals, and enjoy a light dinner to avoid feeling overly full when it’s sleeping time. Make sure that your plate is a balanced dance of fats, protein, and carbohydrates and with the support of a nutritionist, invest in high-quality supplements.
I normally advise new mums to hang a sign out of the door to keep unwanted visitors at bay (and to prevent the delivery man from ringing the buzzer). Friends, family, and relatives get really excited when there is a newborn in town and society demands for them to show up and cuddle the latest addition to the family.
That doesn’t mean you have to sign up to it. Ask a friend or your partner to send out a clear message (or make a FB post, whatever works) where you thank everyone for their kind thoughts, and you will let them know when you and the bub are ready to see people. In the meantime, homecooked meals and presents are welcome and can be left at the door.
Lack of communication
Communication is crucial in marriage and not being able to communicate effectively quickly leads to resentment and frustration for both, impacting all aspects of a marriage.
Statistics have shown that couples argue 40% more after having babies. Sleep deprivation, constant disagreements, different points of view, lack of intimacy, financial fears are just some of the problems families with small babies have to face. In these instances, mindful communication can be hard, but it’s worth the try. Practice talking with a soft tone of voice, and, most of all, practice listening. Don’t jump on the first opportunity to tell your partner how wrong she/he is. Hear what the message is, and what the other person is trying to express. Then, do the same, with an open heart.
FOMO, also known as the fear of missing out
I have always been suffering from FOMO to a certain extent, and I thought it was going to disappear after having a baby. Unfortunately, it grew exponentially. All of a sudden I wasn’t able to go out to dinners with friends, I couldn’t participate to workshops (even webinars) and weekend away were a thing of the past; and on top of it, there were days when Luna was crying harder than usual and I had to miss out on dates with other mothers or catch up with the mothers group. It didn’t matter which way I was looking at it, I was just missing out.
Until I realised I really wasn’t, quite the opposite. For the very first time, I had the chance to be present. Every day, I was given the opportunity to soak in those beautiful moments of eye gazing with my daughters, and my only job was just to sit there with my mind, heart, and soul. When I shifted my mindset around it, I realised I wasn’t missing out, the rest of the world was