Let’s be honest. As much as everyone goes on about ‘self-care’ putting it into practice as a new mom is a challenge. It’s even more challenging when times are tough, like they are right now. Some days, when you haven’t had much sleep, and you’re tired to the bone, it’s hard to find the positivity in all the negativity. Still, experts hold that the best place to start is with yourself, your well-being and your happiness.
First-time mom Su-Marie Annandale knows all too well how stressful pregnancy and giving birth can be, not to mention dealing with all the challenges of being a new parent in the middle of a pandemic, but she’s learned that the only way to give her best is to make sure she looks after her health and well-being first. As they say, happy mom, happy baby!
Brand manager for the skincare line Clere, Su-Marie had a difficult time falling pregnant after she lost twins in 2014 12 weeks into her pregnancy. After almost giving up on having a baby, and having tried Artificial Insemination (AI) with no luck, her prayers were finally answered and she finally conceived naturally last year.
All went well with her pregnancy, she says, and she enjoyed the experience, but she admits she was stressed about getting infected with COVID-19 and nervous that she might have to give birth without the support of her husband because of the lockdown restrictions.
While she’d planned a natural delivery, Su-Marie ended up having an emergency C-section. Fortunately, her husband was able to attend the birth of their baby girl, Nusey.
With the demands of feeding and little sleep, she’s the first to admit that being a new mom isn’t always a bed of roses. But she offers these tips for burned out moms struggling to practice self-love:
- Start each day by telling yourself something positive. It could be how well you handled a situation, or how good your hair looks today, anything that will make you smile will help get your day started on a positive note.
- Move your body every day, even if it’s just a five-minute dance session in the living room, and learn to love the skin you’re in.
- Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. Let them remind you just how amazing you are.
- Stop the comparisons. There is no one on this planet like you, so you cannot fairly compare yourself to someone else. The only person you should compare yourself to is you.
- Celebrate your wins no matter how big or small. Pat yourself on the back and be proud of what you have achieved.
- Realise that beauty cannot be defined. It is what you see it as. Even super models aren’t perfect in real life. As actress Tracee Ellis Ross says, “I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the colour of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.”
- Follow your passion. You know that thing that gets you so excited but scares you at the same time, the thing you really want to do but have convinced yourself it won’t work. You should do just that.
- Be patient but persistent. Self-love is ever evolving. It’s something that needs to be practiced daily but can take a lifetime to master. So be kind and support yourself through the hard times.
- Treat others with love and respect. It makes us feel better about ourselves when we treat others the way we want to be treated. That doesn’t mean everybody will always repay the favour, but that’s their problem, not yours.
- Reach out to family, friends, a therapist, whoever you need to help you through the tough times. You are not expected to go through them alone.
- Learn to say ‘no.’ Saying no sometimes doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a smart person.
- Write it down. Is your head swimming with so many thoughts you feel as if you’re drowning? Write them all down on a piece of paper, no matter how crazy, mean, sad, or terrifying they are. Keep it in a journal, tear it up, burn it, whatever you need to do to let them go.
- Turn off and inwards. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and sit down for a few minutes on your own. No TV or distractions, just you. Think about the wonderful things that are happening in your life right now, what your big dreams are and how you can make them happen.
- Be realistic. There is no person on this earth that is happy every single moment of every single day. We are all human. We make mistakes, we feel emotions (good and bad) and this is okay. Allow yourself to be human.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.