Dealing with PND & Anxiety in early motherhood

By Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

The transition into motherhood can be bitter sweet for many. The excitement of starting this new beginning with your new bundle of joy not only brings about a learning experience but significant challenges and changes to your life. For many mothers, these challenges and changes are difficult to adjust to and they find themselves dealing with emotional, psychological and physical struggles.

Postnatal Depression (PND) and Anxiety are common mental health conditions new mums experience during this transition. PND can often be difficult to identify due to the typical ‘Baby Blues’ that so many women experience postpartum, unfortunately this can make things confusing. PND is commonly suffered by a new mum following childbirth and typically arises due to a combination of psychological challenges and adjustments, hormonal changes and result of fatigue or trauma.

Postnatal Depression affects up to 1 in 7 women and symptoms usually develop between 1 month and up to a year after the birth of their child.

Common symptoms of postnatal depression include, but are not restricted to:
- Low Mood
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Emotional ( you might find yourself crying a lot more than usual )
- Feelings of anger and irritability
- Fear of being alone
- Insomnia
- Reoccurring negative thoughts
- Loss of interest (of things you usually would be interested in)
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling unmotivated
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
- Feeling unable to cope
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of confidence and self esteem
- Feelings of anxiety, stress and panic

Awareness and Treatments of PND has come such a long way over the years and it has really been fantastic for women to feel heard, understood and given the proper care, support and treatment during this difficult time. Treatments for PND vary depending on a person’s individual needs and situation, either way addressing this early on is very important in the recovery process.

Likewise, Anxiety is also another very common issue women are dealing with in motherhood. Unlike PND, perinatal anxiety is only newly spoken about although women have been dealing with the symptoms and stress of it for many years! Depression and anxiety often work hand in hand and are interlinked in many ways.

Anxiety, alike depression does not discriminate age, gender or culture and the symptoms and severity differs from person to person. A woman who has experienced anxiety prior to pregnancy is at a higher risk of also experiencing it during her pregnancy and motherhood. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety may include:

- Irritability
- Panic Attacks (which include racing heart, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, feelings of nausea etc..)
- Hot or cold flushes
- Dizziness
- Tightening of chest
- Fast breathing
- Feelings of restlessness
- Excessive worry
- Excessive Fear
- Obsessive thinking
- Catastrophising
- Avoidance of situations, people or places that make you feel anxious
- Obsessive Compulsive tendencies
- Dry Mouth
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Problems sleeping
- Muscle tension

The most common cause of anxiety has been debated about for years although it really comes down to a combination of genetics, life experiences and environmental factors that contribute to the onset of anxiety. The most reassuring thing is that both anxiety and depression ARE treatable and there IS hope and a light at the end of the tunnel even though it may not feel like it at the time.

Below are some tips that you can implement to help manage your anxiety and depression

1) SUPPORT
During this difficult time the support of your family, friends, professionals and partner is very important. Once again, every woman’s needs are so different therefore ensuring you have the care you need to tailor to your needs and wellbeing is what really matters. We are so lucky that technology has come such a long way, giving us access to online education and support groups as well.

2) ASK FOR HELP
If you don’t feel right please reach out and ask for help. Speak to your GP, Maternity Nurse or health care professional and just let them know what your concerns are, that will then enable them to discuss all options with you and direct you to receive the appropriate help. And there are many options out there!

3) KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Learning more about and understanding what you’re going through really does help in the treatment as it removes a lot of the fear of the ‘unknown’.

4) PRACTISE SAYING YES
The world we live in often portrays the message that as a mother we are super hero’s that need to do everything by ourselves (YES in regards to mums being amazing superwomen and a big NO to having to feel like you need to take on the world on your own) this is just a reminder that its ok to say YES every now and then, if people offer help in those early or even later stages of motherhood just say YES! Yes to a home cooked meal, a hand around the house, a nap while someone looks after bub, yes to dropping the kids at school and picking up some milk for you. We all have those bad days and you are at no exception - You can’t do it all and by no means are you expected to!

5) TAKE SOME TIME OUT
Making sure you put aside some much needed you time is SOOOO important. It doesn’t have to be anything $$ or major, just some time for you to recharge, regroup and become ready for whatever the day throws your way. This could be a nice warm bath when everyone goes to bed or putting your feet up with a nice hot tea or coffee when bub is taking a nap. There is no need to feel guilty for taking some time away - as they say you cant pour from an empty cup!

6) REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Motherhood is really portrayed in a very fairy-tale like way these days in magazines, TV and social media. We are shown the ‘expected’ way to look, act, feed, feel and think. Those expectations have had such a huge negative impact on women all across the globe. This is just a reminder to have realistic expectations of yourself during this time, its ok if you don’t get 35 loads of washing on today, its ok if you don’t have your hair washed today, its ok not to have a picture perfect looking house, its ok to have an all day pyjama day sometimes ( I loveeee those days!) For goodness sake, you have a lot on your plate, don’t be too hard on yourself you are doing the best you can. Listen to your body and what its telling you, it will give you the cues.

At the end of the day its important I reiterate that you ARE doing the best you can so please don’t be too hard on yourself, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs in the world!

- Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

CLICK HERE TO CONNECT WITH AMANDA AND HER WEBSITE AND TO DOWNLOAD HER TOP 10 TIPS TO MANAGING YOUR STRESS & ANXIETY

Follow The Anxiety Wellness Queen on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and TWITTER

If you're a new or pregnant mama, please join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment. Whether you are suffering from anxiety or sleep deprivation we are here!

Don't forget to join our mailing list to receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place, plus additional parenting tips around Baby Sleep, Feeding and Nutrition.

 

Behind the Brand – The Parents Village

Featured Business - The Parents Village

Today we are interviewing two amazing Aussie Mums in business - Kirsty and Lana from The Parents Village! These lovely ladies have created a very special business and support network for new parents, which was borne out of their own experiences as new mums.

Hi Kirsty and Lana and welcome to The Nursery Collective! It’s a pleasure to have you on our blog! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your families?
Kirsty is a Psychologist and Careers Counsellor who is married with two boisterous beauties - aged 3 and 5. Lana is Social Worker and Counsellor, who is also a married mum of one little delicious dictator - aged 2.

I am very passionate about mums having a support network, a village if you like to help navigate the early days of motherhood. Can you tell us about the idea behind The Parents Village – what led you to start your business?
In our lives before kids we thought we had it all together – we were independent, career focused, high achieving, spontaneous, super social and in control.
We were like…”we’ve got this!” During our pregnancies, we were inundated with loads of advice from friends and family – everyone had their two cents to offer. But we both felt like few people gave us an honest, raw ‘heads up’ about all that needed to be considered, prepared for, and embraced after childbirth.
The combination of sleep deprivation, hormonal fluctuation, and loneliness on top of the huge responsibilities of caring for a newborn left us feeling overwhelmed and isolated. We desperately felt the need for a “village” to learn from, lean on and laugh with.
Our little bundles of joy brought us “poop-losions, and “spew-namis”, litres of dribble, endless loads of dirty laundry and tons of tears (theirs and ours). They also brought us abundant love, unimaginable joy, laughter and wonder that is beyond comprehension. Children seem to break and then make us…teaching us the hardest lessons in letting go and embracing the unpredictable, whilst honing our multitasking skills, all on minimal sleep!
And so in 2016 we formed The Parents Village in our living rooms. United and motivated by our mutual experience of being completely “motherwhelmed”, bloody exhausted and craving a village.

I’ve always wondered how it would be like to go into business with a friend. How do you find working together?
We just love working together. We had known each other for many years before we went into partnership (through Kirsty’s brother who is a close friend of Lana’s). We have so enjoyed getting to know each other on a deeper level, sharing and supporting each other with our own experiences of motherhood and building this beautiful village together. We always say we are like Yin and Yang as we have different skills, gifts and expertise and ways of seeing things, but all with common values, so the working relationship flows so well and we are always in admiration and appreciation of the other for bringing something different into the working relationship and our services.

Can you tell us a bit about the different services you have for new parents?
We currently provide six main services that start prenatally all the way to postnatal and beyond.
Birthing The Parent is a prenatal workshop that helps couples prepare for the challenging and rewarding experience of becoming a parent. Centered on the transformation into parenthood, this interactive workshop empowers couples to better manage changes to their body, mind and relationships and adjust to their new role and identity.
Mama Nurture supported others groups were created with the knowledge that Mamas need nurturing too! New mamas bring their Bubs (0-6months) to our facilitated mothers group led by qualified counsellors. In these groups we foster Connection, learning and sharing as we weave in common themes, challenges and joys of adjusting to motherhood in a supportive environment.
Mama Blessingways facilitated by The Parents Village are a beautiful celebration and honoring of a woman’s transition into motherhood. This divine ritual will showers the mama- to- be with affirmations, blessings and practical support to build up her mind, body, and soul, together with her closest female family and friends.
Counselling Services at The Parents Village help clients to process all the feelings and challenges that come with pregnancy and new parenthood. We offer a space for you to explore and better understand yourself and your relationships, so that you can make positive changes, achieve growth and gain fulfilment.
Birth Story Healing sessions help mothers (and their partners) process, reframe and release any trauma they might have attached to their childbirth experience. We support our clients to gain deeper insight and create new meaning from this transformative rite of passage, so they can heal and move forward.
Careers Counselling & Coaching is a service that helps our clients explore their work options, renovate their resume, realise their full potential and find their true calling! We empower our clients to navigate work and family life before and after baby so that you can achieve a meaningful and sustainable career balanced with parenthood.

Wow it sounds like you've covered everything a new parent might need! To end our interview, if you could both offer one piece of advice to new and pregnant mamas, what would it be?
Forget about the superficial stuff, pretty nurseries and the best pram on the market… what really counts are the people who will be around you and your new little family particularly in those early weeks and months…that first year and beyond. Be sure to start to round up your village when you are pregnant so you have that support network readily available when bub arrives. No parent should feel they should do this parenthood thing alone… it isn’t how us humans we were made to be.
Also you don’t have to be the “best” Mum… All you have to be is “Good Enough”.

Thank you so much Kirsty and Lana for your time and for sharing your beautiful business with us! You can click here to connect with Kirsty and Lana at The Parents Village and here to follow them on Facebook.

It's so important to find your support networks when you are expecting and as a new mum! You can join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment.

Don't forget to join our mailing list to receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place.

 

Using Mindfulness in Pregnancy

By Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence”.  Eckhart Tolle

The modern life we live in can be quite complicated at times. Our attention is demanded in so many different areas that we find ourselves constantly on the go. Trying to keep up with our busy schedules, work, kids, family and friends invites stress and anxiety right through our doors! Even when we find time to relax, our minds are always wandering. Pregnancy and motherhood is one of the most precious, intriguing, rewarding, empowering yet fearful and stressful times in our lives. Therefore caring for your mental health and emotional well being should be placed high on your priority list!

It is amazing how far mental health awareness has come, to shed light, support and educate women and their loved ones about important issues such as Pre/Postnatal Depression. Women are becoming more knowledgeable and aware to look out for signs that may be of concern, thus receiving the care they need and deserve. Pre/Postnatal Anxiety, is another pressing issue. The statistics are continuously increasing and it is now estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety. Regrettably it is one of the most common mental health conditions in Australia today. Fear and anxiety often happens when you are physically in the here and now, although your mind is wandering in the future. Thankfully research is beginning to demonstrate the positive effects of practices such as mindfulness during pregnancy, to help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

So...What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the awareness of being in the present moment by paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. It’s the practice of slowing down the mind rather than letting it wander in so many different directions. Unlike some of the other practices, the beauty of mindfulness is that with awareness you notice your thoughts and you then allow them to come and go without any judgement and interpretation. It’s important to understand that learning how to be present in your life takes time and practice! You have most likely practiced mindfulness on several occasions without even realizing.

Elisha Goldstein, a mindfulness expert, talks about practicing mindfulness in 2 ways – Formally and Informally. When practicing formally, you are ‘Intentionally’ setting aside time in your day to practice. By focusing and meditating on your breathing, your emotions and your thoughts with awareness. Informal Mindfulness practice incorporates the same sort of technique into your everyday life and tasks. You can do this by simply consciously being aware during your daily tasks.

Pregnancy and motherhood is a great time to learn and practice Mindfulness. It encourages awareness and a real sense of curiosity, it can be one of the most important tools that you learn during pregnancy and carry through to motherhood. Pregnancy can create a sense of fear and vulnerability. Mostly due to the unknown. Not knowing what will happen next, how you will feel and the constant change in physical sensations. Having the knowledge and tools that mindfulness provides can be a God send!

Mindfulness for Anxiety

Anxiety has a way of capturing your undivided attention! It consumes your thoughts, your body, feelings, and emotions. One of the common key elements of anxiety, is focusing on the future. The future, meaning a year from now, a month from now or even what could happen later that night. There is A LOT of ‘What Ifs’ involved and as a result making you feel more and more anxious. So then HOW does mindfulness come into the picture I hear you ask?

Mindfulness focuses on the here and now, the present moment. The total opposite to anxiety. It’s about training the brain to A) Slow Down & B) Discover this wonderful sense of awareness you have hidden within, removing all the chaos and enabling you to focus.

Have you ever had the experience of getting in the car to go somewhere and then before you know it.. YOU'ER THERE. How miraculous hey? The strange part is, most of the time you have no memory of the steps you took to get there, because so much of what we do is on auto pilot. With anxiety, your mind wonders constantly, mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to the moment by using awareness, observation and a sense of curiosity.

Practicing mindfulness can be experienced ‘Informally’. You achieve this by placing your focus on the task at hand, such as, eating, showering, walking, cooking etc.. For example, while eating your breakfast you may already be thinking about what your day has in store for you, what you are going to wear for the function on Saturday or what is on the menu for dinner. When you introduce a more mindful approach, you are then able to take note of the aromas from your meal, the tastes, the textures, the visual aspects, such as the colours of your food. Using all your senses is KEY and a good way to start.

Why is Mindfulness important during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, we can spend so much time thinking and worrying about what’s ahead, that we spend little time enjoying the now. Part of the reason anxiety increases so much for women during pregnancy is that so much of the process is out of our control. It is scary not knowing how things are going, what the different pregnancy symptoms are and if they are considered "normal". Women often worry about having everything organised for the nursery, wondering what will happen during the labour and how they will cope when the baby arrives. So much pressure is put on a couple to make the perfect decisions, such as birthing choices, eating healthy, exercising and taking vitamins. If there is anything you take away from today’s post I would like to highlight that taking care of your mental health needs during your pregnancy is just as important as your physical health.

Top 5 Benefits of practicing Mindfulness during Pregnancy

1. REDUCES STRESS, ANXIETY AND WORRY
Practicing Mindfulness during pregnancy has been shown to lower a mother’s stress and anxiety levels and improve overall emotional and physical health. Mindfulness allows you to alleviate the feelings of guilt and judgement by placing your focus on the present moment.

2. CONNECT TO YOUR CHANGING BODY
Let’s face it. There is so much going on during pregnancy that we often can’t keep up! Mindfulness practice allows you to tune in and listen to your body and its needs. There is no better time to be in touch with your body than now!

3. GREAT PREPARATION FOR THE BIRTH
Focus and awareness during the birthing experience is essential and ties in very well with #2. Understanding that some things are out of our control and being able to go with the flow is part of the recipe for a positive birthing experience.

4. CREATES A POSITIVE MINDSET DURING LABOUR
The first thing we hear when we fall pregnant is everyone’s horror stories! Which in turn only creates more fear and anxiety. Mindfulness allows you to notice any potential negative thoughts during your birth
without getting caught up in it all. Simply just by observing, letting it go and continuing to be present of the sensations and happenings of the NOW.

5. SELF CARE AND COMPASSION
We often judge ourselves based on expectations, social norms and feelings of fear and anxiety. Mindfulness supports self-compassion through the pregnancy process because it allows us to observe our feelings and thoughts with self-awareness. This is very important because we often hide the way we feel due to the guilt or fear of experiencing them.

- Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

CLICK HERE TO CONNECT WITH AMANDA AND HER WEBSITE

 

Follow The Anxiety Wellness Queen on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and TWITTER

If you're a new or pregnant mama, please feel free to join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment. Whether you are suffering from anxiety or sleep deprivation we are here!

If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, please do so you can be notified of our blogs as soon as they go live! Added bonus when you sign up - you will also receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place, plus additional parenting tips around Baby Sleep, Feeding and Nutrition.

 

How to tackle anxiety as a new mum

By Fi Morrison

I vividly remember sitting in the car in the parking lot of a local supermarket. I was sniffling back tears. I sat there listening to my son crying out of hunger, and audibly shaking as I spoke to my husband through the car’s Bluetooth. I had just (barely) survived a SHORT grocery shop with my 6 week-old son (I seriously only needed to purchase TWO items). I had been motoring through the aisles of this unfamiliar shop while my son wailed in the pram. I fielded unimpressed looks from other customers, and even a couple of reasonably empathetic comments from passersby.

I was very grateful for two things in that situation – one, a woman called out after me ‘you’re doing a wonderful job!’ as I motored on past. That really made me feel better (although to be honest, that was after the fact – at the time it only helped marginally as I was well and truly past flustered by that stage!). The other thing that helped was the conversation with my husband in the car afterwards. Gosh it was good to have someone to break down to and receive verbal encouragement from. It was the support I received that truly helped me through that tough season.

You see, I suffer from some sort of anxiety. I haven’t been diagnosed, but I know my anxiety levels are higher than most average people. I know I worry about things too much. I know I overthink things, and I stress about ridiculous situations (like where am I going to park when I go somewhere new?). The other night, I literally didn’t fall asleep until after midnight because I was so anxious about another false alarm going off on the baby monitor. I know I suffer from some sort of anxiety. But was it any different to ‘normal’ first-time mum anxiousness?

The thing about becoming a new mum is that there will be some anxiety there for you to some degree. Whether you are ‘naturally’ an anxious person or you’re relatively laid-back, at some point it will hit you. Is my baby supposed to make weird noises at night (yes, yes they are)? Is my baby’s poo supposed to look like that? What is that red rash on his face? When am I supposed to feed him solids? Am I feeding him correctly? Mums are ambushed by so many questions, and often judgements based on their answers to these questions, that they are anxious about whether their child is normal, and whether they are mothering right. All new mums go through this at some point, and many might not be sure how to let go of these anxieties until they build up to breaking point. For me, I followed these five strategies below after my shopping incident to help me get through the tough times that motherhood brings:

GO TO YOUR SUPPORT NETWORKS

We had family and friends bring us meals in the first couple of weeks, which was absolutely brilliant - it removed the hassle of us going out shopping with a screaming baby, which was what I was most anxious about (especially after my previous incident!). Surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones can help minimise your fears and concerns as they offer practical and emotional support.

PRACTISE MINDFULNESS

Whatever this looks like for you and your beliefs, engaging in some sort of mindfulness can help you to relax, refocus and prioritise what is important. I found even having 20 minutes to myself after my husband returned from work helped to clear my mind of the things I was worried about, refocus on what is important to me (my family) and to move forward.

TAKE TIME TO EXERCISE

We all know exercise is important for physical health, but it also releases endorphins to make us feel emotionally better. Fresh air can give us a new – and often better - perspective on things, (and hey - a baby screaming in the stroller is moving and won't be annoying any one person for too long!)

FOCUS ON SELF CARE

Give yourself permission to have 'me-time' away from your child, even if it is only for an hour. Do it regularly, and indulge in something you are passionate about or enjoy (massages, movie, read a book, go for coffee). This will remove that feeling of anxiety you may be feeling, help you to relax and prepare you for the next task ahead (and you’ll most likely miss your baby in that short time – I know I sure did!)

BUILD UP YOUR MUM TRIBE

The best support I had was a group of new mothers who were going through the exact same experience as I was, who could empathise with my situation, and offered words of encouragement and support. There were other mothers who encouraged me to go out for coffee, and weren't the slightest bit put out by my screaming baby. There were mothers who would come up to me after a rough (screaming) session at mother's group and ask if I wanted them to hold my son to give me a break. If I could give you only one piece of advice, find your mum tribe as soon as possible, and stick with them because they will make your motherhood journey not only bearable, by enjoyable.

After I followed these strategies, I found myself feeling less anxious and was able to enjoy motherhood a lot more. While I still have moments of anxiety (just a part of my nature/personality I guess), I love everything about motherhood now and enjoy going out with my son.

 What tips or strategies have you found to alleviate the anxiety new mums face?

- Fi Morrison (Mumma Morrison)

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE WONDERFUL MUMMA MORRISON BLOG

As Fi mentions above, a huge part of getting through the early stages of motherhood is by having a great support network. Please feel free to join our Facebook group over at Find Your Village here – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment.

If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, please do so you can be notified of our blogs as soon as they go live! Added bonus when you sign up - you will also receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place.

 

Anxiety, Mental Health & Depression in early Motherhood

Monthly Focus : Anxiety, Mental Health & Depression in early Motherhood

This month at The Nursery Collective, our blog will be focused around a very important topic for new Mums – Anxiety, Mental Health and Depression. From the very common baby-blues to more serious forms of post (or pre) natal depression, our mental health as new mums is one of the most vital areas we need to pay attention to. After all, if we can’t look after ourselves, how can we look after our little ones?

I thought I’d start by sharing some of my own experiences with anxiety when I was a brand-new Mum. I know now that the main trigger for my anxiety was lack of sleep. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is often called a form of torture! Without sleep, I just couldn’t function and my anxiety would go through the roof. Read our Baby Sleep Tips in the First Year blog post here if you are going through any sleep deprivation and need some help! I would burst into tears over the tiniest thing and I felt like the lack of sleep would never end, and I’d never get through it – dramatic I know, but that’s how I felt at the time. Luckily for me I had an incredible support network throughout this period, firstly my Mum and then my mother-in-law flew from overseas to stay and help me through the first few months. Looking back now I’m sure my wonderful mother-in-law thought I was a complete loony as she was with me during my highest levels of anxiety – but having her around to talk to and be of support made the world of difference. We used to take the night in shifts so I could get some quality sleep when my little one decided he was going to wake every 45min to an hour all night long. I was also lucky to have my closest girlfriends around, most of which were also new mamas, so there were plenty of shoulders to cry on.

I don't have many photos of me from this particular time, but here's one I found. I distinctly remember meeting one of my best mates at a mall after having zero sleep...behind that smile was one very tired and anxious new mama, note the dark circles!!

My anxiety also manifested in needing to control my environment as much as possible. Which is completely bonkers when you have a new baby - I can see that now! But at the time I definitely started becoming more OCD – keeping things clean and tidy, and sticking to a schedule as much as possible. So, when my baby didn’t sleep as much as the books said he should, I would lose the plot. Literally. The amount of pressure I was putting on myself was ridiculous. One of the midwives at the hospital had suggested I take notes on when baby was feeding, pooping, passing urine – just to keep an eye on things in the first few days. This became my obsession. I actually kept a record of all this.... for one year. Yes, you heard that right - ONE YEAR.  Wow, that feels so embarrassing to admit! I physically wrote down the time of every feed (and which side I fed on, later how many mls he would take in a bottle), when he pooped and how long he would sleep for at each nap and through the night. When we started weaning onto solids, I also included what he ate for every meal, to ensure he was getting the right nutrients and a wide variety of foods! TOTALLY insane right?! I actually ran out of pages after he turned one and finally stopped. It was incredibly liberating to throw it away, and although I can laugh about it now, in some ways writing it all down helped me feel some control during this period of complete overwhelm.

When my second was born, I did take notes, but only for the first fortnight or so – as a second-time mum my perspective was totally different. I had help with the cleaning, my eldest to also look after and frankly I didn’t have as much time to be as anxious. The triggers were still there, but this time I knew what I had to do to get through the difficult phases. I certainly had my moments, for example during the dreaded 4 month sleep regression, but “this too shall pass” had become my mantra and helped pull me through.

Talking about these issues openly is so important, these feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed by. But it’s hard I know! As much as my feelings of anxiety were minute compared to those suffering from full blown post-natal depression, it was still difficult to share at the time. So, during March we will be focusing our blog on these very topics, to hopefully shed some more light on ways to cope with anxiety and depression as a new mum. Fi Morrison, our regular blog contributor from Mumma Morrison will be up first with her take on tackling anxiety as a new mum. Amanda Cavallaro, from The Anxiety Wellness Queen will also be writing for us this month on how we can use mindfulness to deal with anxiety during pregnancy/as a new mum, as well as about PND in early motherhood, the signs and symptoms, and what to do next. We will also be featuring a few interviews - Kirsty and Lana, the founders of The Parents Village, who built their business based on the support they felt was lacking when they themselves were new mums, and Sarah Clark, who also built her business after finding ways to cope with PND.

A huge part of getting through the early stages of pregnancy and motherhood is by having a great support network. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, but more importantly to raise a mother. Read our blog post on the importance of finding your village as a new mum here. And please feel free to join our Facebook group over at Find Your Village here – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment.

We look forward to sharing all this with you over the next few weeks. If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, please do so you can be notified of our blogs as soon as they go live! Added bonus when you sign up - you will also receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place.

Feel free to comment below on your own experiences with anxiety or depression, or if you have any specific topics you’d like us to cover.

Love,
Cathy

 

The Benefits of Using a Doula

Guest Post - Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

If you are anything like I was during my first pregnancy, I had no idea what a doula was or why on earth I would need one. Thankfully, with the support of an amazing midwife, I had a great birth without a doula. With my second pregnancy, circumstances meant I didn’t have the luxury of a continuity of care midwife during the pregnancy or birth. Thinking everything would be fine, I decided not to go ahead and hire a doula. Worst. Decision. Ever. Not even exaggerating, my birth was horrendous and I wish I had known exactly what a doula was and why every woman needs one!

WHAT IS A DOULA?

A birth doula, pronounced ‘doo-la’, is a pregnancy and birth support person. Doulas have been supporting women for centuries, in many different cultures.
There are many different types of doula, including antepartum, postpartum and bereavement doulas. I will be speaking specifically about birth doulas. Typically, a doula is a woman who has given birth (although not always) and is a trained professional in supporting women during labour. She knows all about natural birth processes and the interventions that go along with hospital births.

During pregnancy, a doula will help to alleviate any fears you may have about the birth and post-partum period. A doula is someone you can call on any time of day for reassurance and support.
Most doulas will also offer a birth planning session, where you will sit together and go through your ideas and preferences for the birth. She is available to educate you about labour, breastfeeding, postpartum, and provide any advice you may need from a non-judgmental, unbiased perspective.

A doula will attend your labour and birth, whether that be at home, hospital or both. Her role is strictly non-medical, purely physical, emotional support and advocacy. Doulas are very skilled in alternative pain relief techniques, giving you an endless supply of ideas to try before you ask for the epidural.

WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?

• Provides emotional support during pregnancy, birth and beyond
• Uses comfort measures including (but not limited to) massage, relaxation techniques, position change, heat packs, showering, hip squeezes, etc.
• Create a home-like environment in the hospital, by using aromatherapy, music, flameless candles, ensuring privacy etc.
• Gives clear, unbiased information to assist you in making decisions both before and during labour.
• Continuously reassures and comforts, a doula never leaves your side once labour is established.
• Advocates for the mother and helps facilitate communication between the mother and care provider
• Ensures you are drinking and eating, she may even brew herbal tea for you and make coffee for your partner.
• Provide emotional support to your partner, as well as ensuring they are hydrated, rested and fed.
• Works together with your partner in supporting you.
• Help you to get cleaned up and comfortable after birth
• Offer assistance with establishing breastfeeding
• Provide in home support after the birth.

Ultimately, the doula you hire will perform the tasks you wish of her, whether that is to remain by your side the whole time, or primarily to give support to your partner.

BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA ATTEND YOUR BIRTH

The benefits are plentiful. Studies have shown that women that use a doula are much more likely to have a positive birth outcome and birth satisfaction. Women are less likely to ask for pain relief medication (60% less likely to ask for an epidural).
Also, by having a doula attend your birth you will reduce the length of labour by 25% (average of 40 minutes), decrease your chance of a caesarean by 50% and lower the need for augmentation with syntocinin (synthetic oxytocin) by 40% (1).

 

WILL A DOULA MAKE YOUR PARTNERS ROLE REDUNDANT?

This is such an important point to mention, partners are often concerned a doula will replace them and push them out of the way. Simply not true, doulas are there to ensure your partner is comfortable, informed and participating (if they want to).

Some partners may feel completely overwhelmed and intimidated by seeing you in pain. They may feel completely helpless and have no idea how best to support you. This is where a doula can step in, give him some encouraging words and suggest some massage techniques or positions he can support you in. Perhaps your partner needs some space, and would rather sit back away from the action. That’s ok, especially because your doula can step in and play an active role in supporting you.

By taking the extra pressure off your partner, they will be able to eat, rest, and move the car etc, whilst feeling reassured that you’re being looked after your doula. Your partner will be more emotionally present and may actually even enjoy the incredible birth journey.

ARE DOULAS ONLY FOR WOMEN PLANNING A HOMEBIRTH/NATURAL DRUG-FREE BIRTH?

Absolutely not. In my opinion, women birthing in a hospital need a doula more than those choosing a home birth. Hospital births are difficult to navigate through without someone there to support and advocate your decisions. Doulas are familiar with local hospital policies, and can keep you informed about them. A doula will also facilitate communication between you and your health care provider, this is important especially when you haven’t met the midwife/doctor before. Ensuring effective communication can make the birth much less stressful for everyone involved.

As for women choosing to use pain medications, a doula will support you in whatever decisions you make. She is not there to sway you decision or judge your choices, she is there for YOU. If you choose an epidural, you will still need emotional support during the application of the epidural and help with it comes to pushing. It is reassuring to know your doula is there to help you ask the right questions regarding hospital procedures to ensure you have all the relevant information to make decisions should they arise.


Photo Credit: Jen from Heart of Motherhood

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A POTENTIAL DOULA?

• What services do you provide?
• What is your philosophy regarding birth?
• Do you have experience with VBAC/twin birth/planned C-section?
• Do you have a backup plan in case you can’t attend my birth?
• How many clients do you take per month?

I hope this article has made you consider having a doula attend your birth, it is certainly a worthwhile investment into having a positive birth experience.

- Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

1. Hodnett ED. Gates S Hofmeyr GJ. Sakala C. Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. CD003766, (2003).

To connect with Sam and her services at Sage, Birth & Beyond click here

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO BE THE FIRST TO READ OUR BLOG POSTS, AND TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF "YOUR NEW MUM CHECKLIST" - All the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby all in the one place!

Love,
Cathy

 

Postnatal Health & Nutrition

Nutrition Series Part 3 - Postnatal

The day has finally arrived and you’ve welcomed your bundle of joy into the world. You’ve taken all the necessary steps for pre-conception care and looked after yourself throughout pregnancy - now what? This period is referred to as “post- natal” and supporting your health now, is just as important as the previous stages. It is not uncommon for new mums to experience exhaustion, cracked nipples, infection, mastitis, post-partum hypertension, post-partum thyroiditis or post-partum depression; with approximately 19% of women experiencing post-partum depression in the first 3 months after childbirth.

Although there are numerous health concerns that may affect a mum post-natal, the following are perhaps the most recognized.

POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

This accompanies symptoms of feeling disconnected from their baby, feeling down, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion, sleep disturbances or thoughts of harm to their child.
Diagnoses can be done through your doctor, who will ask a series of questions to assess mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there are specific support networks to help.
Supporting a mother’s nervous system through diet, should be done regardless of a PPD diagnoses. Studies have shown intakes of EPA/DHA’s (Omega 3’s), reduce depressive symptoms in pregnant and postpartum women.
Sources include salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.
B Vitamins are also required for brain and neurotransmitter function. Sources include egg yolk, anchovies, broccoli, liver, eggplant, sunflower seeds and spinach.

MASTITIS

Affecting approximately one third of lactating women, Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast tissue. Mastitis may occur at any point whilst breast feeding but often presents during the first 12 weeks. Common causes include blocked milk ducts, breast engorgement and infection. Breast tenderness, nipple pain, cracked nipples, fever and fatigue are all associated symptoms.
Diagnoses is made with your doctor, who will examine the area, looking for signs of redness, inflammation, cracked nipples and breast tenderness.

Include rich sources of zinc, to support wound healing (Red meats, eggs, sunflower seeds, mushrooms) and if prescribed antibiotics, a probiotic is recommended to restore healthy gut flora and prevent yeast overgrowth. Also avoid high doses of Vitamin C, as may cause diarrhoea in the breastfeeding baby.

NUTRITIONAL MANAGEMENT

Whilst many mums find they will eat on the go or end up skipping meals altogether, ensuring you eat to sustain energy, to allow for milk production and to support any post-partum health issues, is incredibly important. I recommend for all new mums, to invest in a slow cooker. Unless you have a personal chef or a family member/ friend providing you with meals, finding the time and energy to prepare and cook, is often the last thing you feel like doing. Finding simple ways to still eat well, will reduce extra pressure you may put on yourself and provide nutrients to support your own health.

Good sources of protein at least three times a week should be included in the diet. Consuming 1 gram per kilo of body weight is ideal. Sources include eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, legumes and cheese.
Breast feeding will require a higher intake of carbohydrates and including oats, wholegrains, quinoa, sweet potato and chickpeas, are all ideal. Also Including fats from nuts (if you choose to eat nuts whilst breast feeding), avocado, dairy and oily fish such as salmon.

SAMPLE MENU PLAN

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup spinach, ½ tomato, 1 cup mushrooms
Morning Tea – Smoothie. Banana, coconut milk, honey, raw cacao
Lunch – Toasted sourdough topped with 1 can of tuna, ½ avocado, cucumber
Afternoon Tea – 1 cup of Greek yoghurt, ½ cup mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
Dinner – In slow cooker – 1 lamb shoulder, served with sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
Water – 2 litres filtered

RECIPE
Slow cooked lamb, served with veggies and a rosemary sauce

Serves 4
Ingredients: 1 lamb shoulder, 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 carrots, 1/2 pumpkin.
Method
Cut sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots into smaller sized pieces (approx. 3-4 cm in length)
In a slow cooker, add sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin. Place lamb shoulder on top. Turn setting to low heat and allow to cook for 8 hours.

Rosemary Sauce
Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs butter, 2 tbs fresh rosemary, 2 tbs olive oil, ½ cup veggie stock
Remove lamb and vegetables from slow cooker. Do not wash slow cooker. Turn to high heat.
Add garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and veggie stock and whisk with pan juices.
Add butter and stir. Serve.

If you are experiencing any health concerns post pregnancy, please see your doctor.

- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist

To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO BE THE FIRST TO READ OUR BLOG POSTS, AND TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF "YOUR NEW MUM CHECKLIST" - All the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby all in the one place!

Love,
Cathy