mental health blocks

Maternal Mental Health After Pregnancy

Once you have given birth, you learn that there a quite a few appointments in the weeks afterwards, including midwife visits and a 6 week check up with your GP. I didn’t have the typical visit on day 5 then day 10. Instead, a midwife visited me for 10 days to monitor my blood pressure. It wasn’t pregnancy induced as I’ve had hypertension for around 4-5 years now. Because of this, I was under a clinic called MAViS who were absolutely lovely and also checked in on me while I was in the postnatal ward.

How do you feel?

During the appointments, you’re asked quite often how you feel. The truth is, I was a bag of emotions. I felt like a yo-yo constantly going up and down, happy then sad. Of course, fluctuating hormones play a part, and you feel like you can’t escape them. Looking back, I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself and maybe I wouldn’t be containing with similar emotions now. How was I supposed to really know how I really felt at 6 weeks? Motherhood was still very new. My body was and still is recovering – mentally and physically. I’ll be honest, I didn’t speak up earlier on, it took me until I was 3-4 months to have a couple of phone calls with a doctors which led to a referral and then another referral again. I’m not in a place to talk about it in great depth but I can tell you, it’s all very raw, and most of my feelings towards every day things in life seems to stem back to my younger days, perhaps high school.

I’m 9 months postpartum and I see a lot of posts on social media that still pressure me – it’s just how my mind can be. I used to read posts like, you’ve got this or it gets easier. And they are absolutely right even if I lose perspective a little on the tougher days. I have created an Instagram account focus on the truth and positivity that surrounds me on my motherhood journey. You can follow me @_hellomorningtea. I don’t have any weaning or sleep tips but my aim is to focus on topics that you, my fellow mamas can relate to.

It’s okay to say no

One thing I am telling myself more often is, it’s okay to say no. This has made a difference. I used to find it hard to come away from being the new mum who says yes to everything. I like to think I have find my place in motherhood and I see myself a lot stronger even though there are anxieties underneath it all. Visits from family and friends can be overwhelming as much as you love those people in your life. It’s okay to be honest and say you’re not feeling up to it. If I’ve had a day where I haven’t felt comfortable in my own skin or I am anticipating seeing someone and wondering how they are going to comment on me, baby, life in general, I will get sad. It’s not always easy to explain but the littlest of things can make me this way.

Your life has changed in the most incredible way. There are challenges, tears, frustration but above all, there’s wholeheartedness. A love like no other – with your child/ren. Having a baby isn’t for some people but I am so lucky to have my baby boy as what we have as our little family, is something more than I’ve ever dreamed of. I hope that one day in the future, I can take everything I’ve learned from my first pregnancy and having our first child into a new strength when we have a baby brother or sister for our son. Every single day is an experience for something new and another day we love and know our baby boy.

I know that each and every one us are different, including the wonderful daddies out there too. And for the support side of life, I am lucky to have my partner by my side – the one person I can rely on 100%. He always tries his best to be patient with me and understands that sometimes I just need him to listen, as much as he wants to find a way to take everything away from me.

Useful links

Image credit: Vie Studio on Pexels.

woman writing in a notepad

Working on me, for me.

I have been trying to write a new blog post for a while but I haven’t gotten further than a few words, hardly a sentence. Every time I attempted to type, I ended up deleting it not long later. Nothing seemed to fit or make sense. I wondered if people would even read it. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I have had blog post titles named ‘???’

The truth is, those question marks ask a lot. I have been fighting some personal battles both mentally and physically. I have been feeling lost and out of touch with the things that I used to enjoy or use as a method of distraction from negative thoughts, including my blog. In a way it has always been my ‘therapy’ but now I need the real thing and I am finally able to write about that. I’ll be honest though, to talk about it in person is still incredibly hard and I am still pushing myself to continue moving forward.

For many years, I have been a worrier. Thoughts rush through my mind about what ifs, how I could’ve done something differently, or what someone or a number of people think of me.

It’s been hard to explain how I feel. I haven’t spoke to anyone in great detail about It other than my partner, Danny. There’s no one else on the planet who listens to me and responds honestly the way he does. I am lucky to have his hand to hold. He knows he doesn’t need to understand it all 100% and that he is the one person I need by my side. My mum has been there too, as always. Most days I wonder how much I might be putting on them but then I think, I would always want my son to turn to me, his mummy, and one day to that person of his own who will love him as much as his daddy loves me.

A fair few months ago, things began to take their toll. I became so lost that I couldn’t put most things into perspective anymore. There was a particular day, or more days to be honest when I became the most upset I have ever been. Sometimes, all I want is to get out of my head. I felt (still feel) like I am falling into a hole where I am slipping away from how I feel about every day things, how I look or how people perceive me. It doesn’t help that I’ve had symptoms of hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) for as long as I can remember but time finally did its thing and a couple of months ago, I was sent to A&E urgently as my thyroid levels had changed dramatically. I was told I do indeed have hypothyroidism. It’s a good thing in a way, that I have an answer to parts but there’s still a lot going on that I’m trying to keep up with.

I have started to question things an awful lot – inside my head and out loud. I have a habit of dazing out which I feel can’t be helped most times. It’s funny because since I became a mum, I have gained new strengths but in other ways, I’ve lost so much confidence. I tend to shy away from going straight in to try something. I wonder 10 times or more if I can do it or what other people see as I try. I have been so happy yet cried more than ever before. Of course, fluctuating hormones play a part in any new mum’s journey but for me it’s been such a longstanding situation. Over the years, I have spent far too much time in my worrying bubble. It has affected how I look at things before they happen, how I feel or think.

Picking out things to criticise myself on has become an even easier thing to do. Danny constantly tells me that I am such a strong person but most days I wonder if I’m failing and I feel drained from taking everything in. I don’t need to be reminded of all of the good people and amazing things in my life. I am very much aware of those including all of the exciting things that I have to look forward to.

I don’t want any sorry I didn’t know or you’ll get through it comments. I am sharing this post in the hope that it reaches people who are feeling something similar. You aren’t alone no matter how alone you can feel in your own head. Life gets tough on us all. Though, at times, you feel and see things you wish you hadn’t. People have their own ways of ‘coping’ but one thing I was reminded of recently is that, you can’t just cover the cracks. There’s a bigger picture and there’s nothing more important than your health. I have said more referrals for all sorts of things during maternity leave than ever before. It’s given me the time to focus on emotions and keeping on track of what my body is going through.

I can’t explain the bigger picture right now but I am feeling sure that it will get better. It doesn’t mean that everything will go away completely. I accept that it’s happening and has been for a very long time. Since having our baby boy, I’ve realised the need to work on me, not just for my family but for me. Some of my thoughts and feelings might stem from past or current events but improving myself starts with me. I guess it’s took the strength of being a new mum to help me see the bigger picture. There’s nothing more precious than my little family and having them has opened up a whole new world I needed to be in.

mirror next to a plain tiled wall

Challenges with a Positive Body Image

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you sigh or do you smile?

II’m that person who compliments someone when I see prettiness, a nice outfit, new hair doo etc. But when the compliment is returned sometimes I shy away from what I’m being told and reply with a simple, “Thank you!” I think a lot of it comes down to my levels of self esteem.

Body image and compliments

It’s easy to give someone advice who is challenged with their body image – whether it be their weight, skin, overall appearance – but many of us have something we wish we could change. I have multiple things I think about but my partner adores. There are things I dislike so much that others will compliment. Sometimes, it’s we are our own demon with my minds and what we believe to be true. If I start to tell myself more positive things about my body when I look in the mirror, will that make them true?

Another thing is,,I feel I look younger the older I get which is a huge bonus right? At the same time, I feel like I don’t always look ‘grown up enough’ and I don’t even know if that’s a thing? It makes me wonder about all sorts of things to do with appearance – skincare routine, hair, clothing style etc. when I honestly don’t have the time to look at least 50% of what I might have before having a baby. I don’t think I have let myself go but I am much more critical. Okay, I might have a more sporty look for comfort in the week when family members have asked, “Oh have you been to the gym?” and if I haven’t on that particular day, I easily get down because I think hmm… maybe I should have.

Far from the ‘real life’ body image

TV shows, films, Instagram – we are surrounded by filters and a distance from reality – that’s something I need to remind myself of more. Some days, I am torn on whether to delete on social accounts but I love seeing updates from my family and friends and course sharing blog posts like this one. Without social media, my blog wouldn’t reach as many people. Next time you see a photo or video, think to yourself, there’s more behind that camera lens. Each and every one of us has a story. Some people look more confident than others but could be battling their biggest challenge with body image. Other people are quieter, don’t share much and could be living their best life. It’s all about perspective and I think a lot of it gets lost.

Since high school days, I also felt there was a trend to keep up with. Could I? Nope. I wasn’t in the popular groups, I wasn’t not liked but I wasn’t in the middle neither. I was bullied and some people don’t realise the extent to what went on but it happened. As long ago as it was, I think it still plays a part of the thoughts about myself that play on remind, including comments that have been put my way in more recent times. Two of the hardest parts for me are, looking back in the past and comparing myself to others. It’s so damaging and but even coming to the realisation of that which took a great deal of time, still doesn’t make it any easier not to.

I wish we lived in a world where it was considered normal for people to lose weight or gain weight, have dry or greasy skin (or both), not have to wear makeup to look pretty etc. You can talk with friends who agree but it isn’t the message that’s conveyed outside of those conversations. I suppose it’s just part of the world we live in now even if it does give some people more of a struggle. I wish I could be someone who didn’t care what anyone said, or in fact, even wonder what someone thinks when it might not be anything at all? Oh imagine!

Take something positive from your body image

Right now, I am writing this post wearing my Minnie Mouse pyjamas, hair in a messy bun, with a face looking a bit like Casper the Ghost and some red blotches. I recently tested positive for Covid but I still have these days and I love them because I am happy being comfy in my own company or around my partner and baby.

If you have read this post, I hope you’re able to take something away from it. Perhaps you want to try and feel more comfortable in yourself or how you look when you’re around people. Whatever it might be, your body is part of what makes you, you! Start with someone small and hold onto that thought whenever you start to feel like you’re down about your appearance. I am going to give it a go (when I’m finally able to get out of the house that is).

two soft cuddly teddies on grass

What Motherhood Has Taught Me About Self Love

If you’re a regular reader on my blog, you know that I have a constant mind of a worrier, I struggle to see myself through the eyes of people who love me the most, and I always have something circling in my brain.

Since becoming a mum, these thoughts and feelings have been challenged. There are (still) a surge of hormones going through my body as expected. I have become better in some ways and feel like I have weakened in other areas. That’s what I am going to talk about in this post.

Becoming a braver woman?

In ways, yes, I am stronger and braver since becoming a mum. Those instincts to protect your child wherever possible and speaking up hit me from day one, even when our baby boy was in my tummy growing. In other ways, I probably haven’t grown in ways I wish I could. Maybe I had too many expectations that my pattern of negative or worrying thoughts would lessen a lot or maybe even come to an end. I know now that’s way out of reach but I am still learning and growing where I can. There are things I do now which I was terrified of e.g. 1) going for walks every day with baby without wondering about people’s judgement, 2) meeting up with other mums for baby activities, and 3) having the confidence to speak out loud wherever it concerns my health or my baby’s.

I would be lying if I said I have hit all 3 things above perfectly. I am still working on them all in some way or another but I will get there.

Image isn’t everything

Another one that I am still learning to remember. I am very critical about my appearance, whether it be my hair, skin, weight, anything. Some days I might ‘like’ myself a little more than others but I don’t feel like the woman I used to. Sometimes I feel a bit lost then I try to remind myself that how I look isn’t anything to worry about. I need to be kinder to myself. I wouldn’t say the things I say to myself to anyone else so why should I be any different? I might not get in those same size skinny jeans at the moment or ever but it’s okay. I need to stop beating myself up and work on the things that matter.

Danny and Freddy love me for who I am so that’s what I think about whenever I start to feel down about my appearance. It’s so easy to criticise yourself. I want to set an example to our son that he should love who he is so I am doing my hardest to follow that too.

A different perspective

Becoming a mum hasn’t only changed how I feel about my body but it has changed my perception on a range of things. It can relate to things like work, social life, day-to-day chores around the house etc. And prioritising what needs to be done the most. Some days I might not be able to whiz round the house as quick as I used to but it’s okay because being a mum to Freddy is making sure he’s fed, clean and happy with lots of love around him.

I can see what’s really important and what matters to me the most – our little family. Our son comes first and the 3 of us are a family unit who share smiles but let’s not forget about the tears.

Becoming a mum has given my life a whole new meaning and I am so grateful that I have our beautiful baby boy. I fall in love with every little thing he does – learning something new every day, those cute noises, giggles, all of him.

I’m learning that it’s okay to go at my own pace with whatever comes my way.

What has becoming a mum taught you?

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on pixabay.com