Mama Matters Mama Tips,

 

Heeeelllooooooo everybody. Today I’m going to go through some things I’ve done to get through this mama thing. I am no expert, just a mama who loves mamas, so if there is anything useful for you here my sister, grab it and go ham.

Fathers, and fathers to be, there is so much you can do to help. I myself would most likely  not have risen out of my funk so quickly were it not for the perpetual presence and support of my husband. Without his assistance, I wouldn’t even be rested enough to write these articles.

When you read this, my gentlemen, please don’t use it as a mansplaining manual, with which to tell her what to do. Instead, if you would like to see magic, look through this for things you can, with her permission, help her do. Also, kindly do not stop looking at her with romantic presence, right now, she will forget she can ever be beautiful, and you are the magic mirror in her life.

For ease of reference the rest of this article will be categorized. Enjoy!

Eating.

Mama, both you and I know ourselves, we can not have peace unless baby does, therefore, this particular article will be riddled with baby kicking off tips. However, when it comes to eating, right now, you eating well means baby eating well. There is a cyclic relationship here.

Firstly, nie, I believe a full baby will be a happy baby. I also know for a fact, that a hungry one can be anybodies nightmare. Eating well and drinking lots of fluids will stimulate better milk supply. If you are blessed with a baby whose appetite exceeds milk flow, even mixing formula and washing baby bottles requires energy.

It is a common myth that maternity leave is “time off”. It is a full time job, with not enough rest, but one of the primary job assignments is to eat well.

Daddy tips; mother nature did place a heavier onus on women, I do know that you can’t breast feed. There are some magical things you can do:

a) Express support. Emotionally, Psychologically and physically be there for her. Stressed mothers have the highest difficulty producing milk. Even if they are eating right.

b) Eat with her, accompany her at meal times at every chance you get. Eating in company makes it much more doable and enjoyable. She is putting out a lot of calories right now and all the vitamins and minerals her body can get a hold of. Including stock from her own bones, helping her replenish this is a sturdy investment in the health of your family.

c)Let her teach you how to help, and don’t give up asking gently until she does. In my case, the only thing my husband can’t do with the baby by now, is nurse. Boys are not often taught how to do these things, the way girls are. However, with consistent effort, and patience, you can transform your wife into a rested human being. Fatigue inhibits most of a humans capacity for fun, so if you don’t do this, the next thing you will take yourself to go complain about how your wife has ‘changed’, lol.

 

Sleeping

Hah, here goes another myth, “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This myth, like most people, forgets that a mama is still a human. She still has the basic human requirements to fulfill when the baby gives her rest, she needs to shower, eat, sleep… The myth also forgets that, because she is the woman of the house, she probably needs to take on roles of preparing and/or planning and/or procuring meals and/or tidying up.

All of the above depends on there being assistance in the home, when there is no assistance, add on washing, hanging, ironing and putting away of clothes, cleaning and tidying of the home. My gentlemen, can you hear me?

Moving on, my sisters, I will not tell you to rest when baby rests, you are masters of your time, my queens. What I will suggest is that, within your time planning, you bear in mind the quality of sleep you purpose to achieve. May your power naps be powerful. Take that shower, do the things which can put your mind at ease, before every well deserved nap. Right before you fall asleep, put thoughts on pause, consciously focus on recharging. You deserve it, you need it, it’s good for everybody when Mama feels well.

As a side note, this type of napping reminds me of those times, umechoka yani, kwa route umezoea, you know your timings. Nikama kuteleport yani, ju unafunga tu macho hivi, kibeti upande ya dirisha, ukifungua mume bakisha stage mbili ndo ushuke. Lol.

Burping

Here is one you may not have expected. It seems so simple, but burping babies has some innate challenges. Let me list those, then get to why this is so very vital.

  1. Putting babies to sleep is sleep inducing. This means that, you can end up having zero energy, exactly at burping time.
  2. You never know how many there are. The task has no definite objective, (tip; Watch very intently how babies face and body moves or doesn’t before and after burping, from birth; fist clenching, brow furrowing, even in sleep can be a sign she still has gas in there).
  3. There is no perfect recipe. Each person, would burp each baby slightly differently. Experiment with softly tapping, bouncing, and even soft upward strokes on their back.

Alright, why is this on the list?

Because gas will disturb baby’s good sleep. When baby’s sleeping times are erratic and inconsistent, mama can not get anything done. We need a baby who has fed well and has no gas in her tummy. Gas can also be a choking hazard, more so the younger the baby is, because when we put them horizontally to sleep when they have it, it comes back out with milk, sometimes partially digested.  I didn’t put this first because I know my mamas know this.

Everybody has a different method, I tend towards soft tapping, but no two babies are the same.

However, I have found one thing to be a key factor with both my daughters; Don’t Rush It. The more you rush it, the longer it takes. To burp as effectively as possible, do it as though it is what you have planned for the next 24 hours. Shake off that sleep, and do not even think about the next thing you have to do. Just think of the burping process as your life from here on out.

The second is, learn your baby, and always expect an extra burp.

Daddy tip; you can help with this. Take the chance to bond with your little one.

Rejuvenation

Hey Mama, sadly, the world isn’t waiting to hold us up at this point, they want to hold the baby. lol. That’s fine, this phoenix rising game doesn’t need an audience, it does need some time and effort though. Also, gone are the days of dedicating over a half day having nails and hair (for now). What do we do?

My advice is to do it in bits, and where possible, even incorporate it. We can look at a short me list, and I am not usually on top of all of it, but doing these things once in  while is better than not at all, I aim, for smaller chunks of time.

Mobility

Here is a strange one. One part of getting fit that people don’t discuss is that it takes an element of courage and confidence. I have spent time in my life just so convinced that I could never look  a certain way that I hadn’t the strength to try.

We are living in a world that has us chasing the wrong objectives. The shape of a teenager has been idolised despite the blatant paedophilic implications. Throw away the measuring tape, what you need is courage, some effective little exercises, willingness to dedicated a little extra effort to loving yourself and a shuka.

Before your 6 weeks are up, all you are doing with the shuka is forming a habit. Get used to wearing one around the house, tie it loosely, not tight, around your rib cage, no lower, especially if you have had a cs. It should never hurt or restrict your movement or breathing.

I did do one other thing. I danced. In the kitchen, in the bedroom, with my baby, with my mop, at the sink, I put music on and began to stretch and move my body, not pushing, just small, fun movements, being mindful to slowly engage my core (tummy) muscles, and restore flexibility and circulation.

Composure

Life happens. People behave like human beings and life’s variable factors can be so much more than we were ready for. Especially as a new parent. You can not depend on your environment to keep you sane.

At least once a day, ask yourself how you feel. Be aware of the state of your heart and your mind. Identify negative emotions and address them, identify positive emotions and embrace and encourage them. Do not let anger, hatred or inadequacy grow roots within yourself. Negative emotions can be divided into two major categories. The things you can do something about, and the things you can do nothing about. The first requires careful, pre-considered action, while the later requires acceptance.

Dream. Hope. Aspire. If you find yourself feeling as though you can’t remember the last time you felt these things, it is important to try to reach out to your support system. Too often, in our post industrial set up, even those who care, are not able to find enough time to be there for others the ways they would wish they could. That means that it is really time to drop the stigma associated with therapy. Humans need other humans, and our jobs and families leave us with a tight social activity time budget.

This chapter of rejuvenation is a mental and emotional game. This part of the process is about healing and forgiveness as well. Don’t let anybody else’s actions, darken the mood of your heart. You are a super human mama, don’t let anyone let you forget it, especially yourself. Forgive, accept, move on, and invest in yourself. Remember that the people who stress us often do not spend as much time thinking of you, return the favour ;).

Check in on yourself, try to stay in touch with your levels of joy and hope, when ones capacity to experience these two things is affected, its time to reach out for help. For a bare minimum of half an hour in the day ( you may need to break it up) be selfish. Take care of Mama, without her at her best, the family can not be at its best. Consciously act, forgive and accept, where applicable. Negative emotions will affect the carrier worse than anyone else.

Beauty

I am no expert in this field, but we all have our little things we do to take care of our appearance. Don’t stop. Having a new born, will most definitely affect the quantity of time you can dedicate to beauty. Slowing down, is inevitable for now, just as long as you don’t stop.

However, this is about the time, when you should graduate from caring about beauty as a standard applied by the world outside, and shift it to rightful mental space: feeling good. Do take care of your beauty, in the ways that make you happy and comfortable. Pay mind to your own confidence, and aim to build that from the inside. Which things make you feel the best? Do them.

Bear in mind, that life with children is the life of interruptions. Don’t loose heart if you have wet nails when baby wakes up, and now you have to paint them all over again when she naps next. It recently took me three days to finish buffing my nails, they do look amazing now though. Count every single win and pat yourself on the back. You are worth every ounce of pampering you can manage, and more.

I will dedicate a whole article to my own priorities and beauty goals and regiments.

Closing Remarks

The new motherhood phase, all circumstances and factors favoring, can present like mother natures perfect, mild, hypomania, with the key difference of a voluptuous appetite (this time round, I didn’t get that, but that is a story for another day).  You are a super human right now. Bask in it!!

First Two Weeks Post Partum. Rest. Rest. Rest. Aaaaaaarrg!

I am a doer.

It becomes evidently very clear to me that using ones body is a privilege. A divine one, that for a short period after a surgery, one must delegate and accept every ounce of help offered. I am so blessed to have had so much help. The whole hospital team was very caring. My hubby, first born daughter and dm helped me through the whole home stay.

Despite all of this, being dependent on others for everything was so emotionally draining for me. I’m used to being the matriarch, the one who sorts out things, the helplessness aspect of recuperating really frustrated me. It had to be done.

The healing process after my second CS was much, much more painful. I didn’t see it coming. This, in combination with not being able to quickly get myself a glass of water left me in a mental state, where I felt I would never recover. My anxiety grew to be its own monster. My usual remedy, of trying to do something about whatever is making me anxious, was impossible to implement. This called on a situational depression, in combination with the anxiety, they conspired to give me a hard time.

One of the greatest sources of anxiety was this: “Is the milk enough”. Breast feeding is interesting, because you can’t tell for sure if it is working adequately, until the baby is full and asleep. When there is less milk, its possible to sit and Nurse, for hours, most of which you are thinking “Shes just about to drop off…”. Hours of ‘she’s just about to drop off’ in combination with a hugely unfinished to do list, it was mentally taxing and emotionally unnerving.

Due to these factors, the first few weeks from the hospital, involved a lot of tears. I cried buckets, whenever I could be sure of some privacy. Between tears, I prayed prayers of gratitude, and I began to promise myself something:

“This body, and it’s movements are not a given. The restrictions I had were not even as limiting as some conditions can be. I myself will use my body, to the best of my ability, I will move, and live in it, to its full capacity, for as long as I can.”

I used the waiting period to work up the resolve for consistent exercising as soon as it is allowed and comfortable.

My first two weeks were fully overwhelming emotionally, I had extreme relief, tension, gratitude, fear and all of the in betweens too.

We moved house, during my pregnancy, my nesting and home organizing were greatly affected by having very limited energy. This meant that right after delivery, this was another task on my mind. The sitting room still had boxes in it. Boxes I wanted to go through carefully and put away in a way that made for easy retrieval. I was busy during all my  waking hours and yet feeling like I was achieving nothing. People wanted to see the baby, and I couldn’t imagine letting them see the house.

Babies clothes were meticulously disinfected and folded like a tidy filing cabinet, mine on the other hand have not even been organised since I moved in. I think it is something quite common, for mothers to put themselves last. I am working on it, it is not as simple as one may think to put oneself first when there are those who are depending on you.

The main purpose of this article is to let new mums know one thing. It is ok, for the way you feel when your baby first arrives, to be complicated. People stop asking how you are, and the standard greeting turns into “Hows the baby?” If you answer any negative responses  at this time, people will judge you. “You should be grateful” sits at the tip of tongues, waiting to come greet you. It is simply, not that simple.

Emotions are influenced by two main things. Environmental factors, and biochemical factors. Giving birth upsets both these factors. Consequently, the emotions one goes through right after delivery can be enormous and founded. The world may not understand, but I do Mama. All your concerns and fears will likely be dismissed as “being negative” by people who just don’t have the time or empathy to understand how you feel. You are not. You are simply planning for the worst, as a mothers instincts demand of her.

It is at this time, that (if you haven’t already) you need to make sure you are in touch with a network of mothers. Mothers often share resources with each other, and will have more understanding of what you go through than other people. That said, even among mothers we can be hard on ourselves, and each other. Bear in mind that each persons journey is individual, if someones advise always leaves you feeling worse, don’t keep going back for more. Mothers are a demographic who are so heavily judged, that you have to develop a sense of autonomy, or else be walked over.

Looking back now I think WOAH! That is a lot I dealt with internally. Despite having support around me. Anxiety can be very hard to reach out about. Thoughts of inconveniencing others act like a gag, postponing requests for help until one can no longer even imagine reaching out. I got through, and now that I’m feeling better, I’m back to work too. My household, motherhood, exercise and professional capacities are back, and I’m not wasting a moment of energy. Mama, finding energy for yourself can be tough.  I have homework for you. The next time you have two free minutes, do five squats, five sit ups or five push ups.  Give your body a little circulation boost, and start getting your mind around dedicating minutes in the day, to you time.