Being a parent inevitably involves sacrifice. There’s less money, less sleep, and less time for yourself. As a mother, finding time to care for yourself is essential but can seem like an impossible task. Not only may it seem impractical, but it may even feel selfish. How can you find the time and energy to help yourself so you can care for your children? How do you overcome guilty feelings of putting yourself before the needs of others?
Delayed Postpartum Depression: Self Care
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KRISTEN STRATTON: Being a parent inevitably involves sacrifice. There are less money, less sleep and less time for yourself. As a mother finding time to care for yourself is essential but can seem like an impossible task. Not only may it seem impractical but may even feel selfish. How can you find the time and energy to help yourself so that you may care for your children?
This is Newbies
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome to Newbies. Newbies is you're online on the go support group guiding new mothers through their babies first year. I am your host Kristen Stratton certified birth doula, postpartum doula, and mother of three.
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SUNNY GAULT: All right, welcome everyone. As far as how you can get involved with Newbies, we are always looking for people to be part of our show. So if you are newly post-partum mom or even if you are not, even if your kids are a little bit older and you've got some wisdom to share we would like to have you on our show. The best thing is head on to our website at www.newmommymedia.com and there is a banner there on the side that basically walks you through the process of becoming a parent on our show.
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KRISTEN STRATTON: All right, let’s meet the moms joining us today, tell us about yourself, your family and your experience with today's topic.
GRAEME SEABROOK: Hi, my name is Graeme and I am a mom of two. I have a three-year-old little boy and a seven-month-old daughter. I actually experienced post-partum depression and anxiety after my son was born. Self-care was something that I worked on really hard with my therapist and I have become a convert, I call myself a self-care evangelist because I bug every mom that I know about this and I have actually started a group on Facebook specifically for moms just talking about self and supporting each other through trying to make that a priority in our lives.
SUNNY GAULT: I love that, we'll link to that Graeme, give us that link and we'll post that on the website.
All right, I'm Sunny and I'm producing today's show. I have four kids, two boy’s two girls. My boys are my oldest ages five and four and then my youngest are my twins and they are two and a half, my girls. Self-care what is self-care? I don't even remember what self-care is. I used to take care of myself. Actually, I'm on a mission right now it started early this week and I am really on a mission to take care better of myself and I have some motivating factors in my life to help me do that.
Actually, I just found that moms deserve it, I deserve it you know I give so much to my family and I'm sure all the moms listening out there can relate to this, it’s just giving, giving, giving and we forget about ourselves and that's really not what is best. We have to be able to take of ourselves so that we can take care of other people and so we can be happy because we lose our identity so much as moms and I'm in the process now. I'm two and a half years out from having babies and I'm still trying to find myself and figure out what is this body? I really don't know who this is. Right now I'm at this stage or in the season of reclaiming who I am.
GRAEME SEABROOK: I love that word reclaiming
KRISTEN STRATTON: I love this episode too because I'm the biggest hypocrite when it comes to self-care. I will tell all my clients focus, take care of yourself and then I go home and I do nothing for myself other than taking care of my three children. I'm really glad that we are doing this because maybe it will help me as you said reclaim for myself.
SUNNY GAULT: All right, so before we kick off our episode today and really dive into this topic of self-care, I guess this headline we are going to have a news headline. I think it is tied into self-care a little bit right after having a baby. There is a maybe you have heard of this online so you know who Chrissy Teigen is she is John Legend’s wife and she has been under fire recently. She just had a baby and was it the next day she stepped out and went out with her husband heaven forbid they were able to go out of the house after they have a baby you know they have enough money where I am sure someone very qualified is watching their baby.
She is like under fire right now. First of all she is just gorgeous, I mean she is beautiful she just had a baby, certainly it doesn't look like she just had a baby she looks very stylish like this black leather pants and her husband is right there with her and they go out and people are just kind of like what, not happy about this like maybe it's a jealous thing but I am seeing a lot of hate and I don't understand it why we can't be happy even if this wasn't our story it's not our story right?
Maybe it took you a while to get out of the house afterward so whatever, everybody is different. I just feel there is a lot of hate regarding this and I am just like well at the same time shouldn't we be supportive it's not like you have to and maybe that's it like people are worried that if too much stuff gets out about oh you should be beautiful walking out the next day then I know that that can lead to other issues and even depression of not being at that stage.
What do you think of this? Kristen let’s start with you.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Well I just read the article and it said nine days after she had a baby so about a week and a half.
SUNNY GAULT: Oh nine days.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Well you know and credit to her for feeling that good after nine days I know after a week and a half of just giving birth my boobs still felt like swollen sore watermelons and I was still not well feeling well enough to go downstairs and make dinner let alone go out get all doll up and go on a date so I am glad that she physically was feeling well enough to do that. Like you said it's not our business to sit there and say what kind of mother someone is because they are doing something that we wouldn't do. For all we know and I actually follow her on Instagram just because I am a doula and a lot of people and a lot of people are really interested in the fact that she publicly breastfeeds a lot.
So she is obviously caring for her child in a way that is different than what some of us would do but that doesn't mean it's wrong because we don't see what goes on behind closed doors. She might be the most nurturing loving parent in the world and I am sure those that those people that don't go out that maybe don’t attend to their children in the same quality because your home doesn’t mean you are giving your kid quality care. We shouldn't rush to judgment just because she is investing in her marriage. Just because it looks different doesn't mean it is wrong and I think some of us sometimes are like I wish I could do that or I would never do that and maybe you would you don't know. You are not in that person’s shoes or life. So let’s just focus on our own problems and focus on self-care and the way that is appropriate for ourselves and our family.
BETH WARREN: You know for me this article really struck me as mommy shaming and the mommy shaming has just got to stop because women are ashamed for public breastfeeding or they are shamed for bottle feeding or they are shamed for what they are wearing or you went out too soon with your husband you are not going out enough. I love what you said Kristen that everybody is so different. I always like to say to my clients we cannot compare our insides to someone's outside you don't know what’s going on in their lives and maybe this is really important for this couple to reconnect and to have a break as you know being a new parent is twenty-four seven and it can be really tough to adjust to that.
So I applaud them that they went on a date night that is so hard for so many couples and there shouldn't be these scams for I would never do that so, therefore, it's wrong. I love that you guys are bringing this up I think that it really tunes into the self-care concept.
SUNNY GAULT: Graeme what do you think.
GRAEME SEABROOK: I would totally have done that if I had their money and I could have seriously if I could have had somebody come to my house after I had given birth and do my makeup and my hair and help me get ready and take care of me if I had a nanny or somebody that I knew that I could trust to be with my baby and I had a husband that looked like John Legend I really hope nobody else is listening to this don’t tell anyone, Adam I love you. Okay, but really yes I would have done that. Are you kidding me? I would one million percent if I had somebody who would have picked out an outfit that would have made me look great and helped me get ready and made me feel beautiful yes a million times yes I would have done that.
I think some of this is coming from jealousy because most of us can't do that. Most of us it wasn't even an option even if we did bounce back really easily I had a couple of friends who giving birth is just not hard for them and I wish I was one of them. But I have two friends who were upset that they had to get into the wheelchair to be wheeled out of the hospital because they were like let’s just go I just want to go home. They very easily could have been out two or three days later would have loved to go out especially in that first two weeks when your baby is just sleeping and you can before.
People forget those first couples of weeks when your baby is sleeping a huge chunk of time before things role into hey it’s been an hour I am hungry again before that really happens to take advantage of that like honeymoon period to rest up. Go to a movie or go to a dinner or whatever is going to make you feel like a human being again and not just this person who created another person.
SUNNY GAULT: Yes there is a lot of hating, it kind of gets sad. She looks so good like I don’t want people to feel bad like that’s what you have to look like that you guys she is a sport illustrated swimsuit model
GRAEME SEABROOK: With a team of people, please don’t forget that she has a team of people supporting her.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I didn’t even think of that Graeme I am thinking that she got herself dressed right, but she had her stylist and her makeup stylist and her hair stylist . . .
GRAEME SEABROOK: Yes which is all part of it, oh my gosh how wonderful that would have been. I would feel good to seat there and have somebody do your makeup and play with your hair and be like oh yes that would have been while she was breastfeeding.
Kristen: And just for the record postpartum doulas we don’t do hair and make-up or maybe some of us do, I don’t but they will come over and love you and love on your baby if you do need a break. So just throwing that out there.
GRAEME SEABROOK: I could just look at her and be like Eileen I just need a hug and she would put the baby down and come and give me a hug. She was fabulous.
Sunny Gault: That’s awesome.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Today we are continuing our series on delayed postpartum depression by discussing the importance in the difficulty of self-care. Our expert today is Beth Warren, a psychotherapist specializing in postpartum mood disorders. Thank you so much for joining us today Beth and welcome to the show.
BETH WARREN: Thank you so much for having me and it’s so funny I know I sound like a broken record literally because I say this every single time I come in a show but I am so great full to ladies for bringing this topic up. I think so many mammas’s as you guys identified yourself really struggle with self-care and then feel really guilty as a result or maybe feel like they are alone because they are comparing themselves to all their mother friends who are out and doing stuff. I just love that you are bringing this to the surface so we can talk about it. I will tell you what I think that we will be successful today if you came up away today with even one new idea or at the very least are validated because you are not alone in struggling with how to incorporate self-care into your new routine.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Right, so now Beth I know a lot of our mothers know the answer to this question already but what about motherhood make self-care so challenging?
BETH WARREN: I love so much that you are even asking this because I have a feeling you are going to think I’m going to say time or sleep deprivation or being so sleepy all of those things are compounding factors of course. You all know that but the other thing that I think is really valuable to identify is the tremendous role shift that happens when you become a mother. It is the fastest kind of jump to a different developmental stage that you are ever going to go through.
I mean think about you didn’t become a teenager overnight that gradually happened, you didn't become an adult overnight that gradually happened but being a mother that literally happened from one minute to the next. So many moms will share that their pregnancy they tended to think so much about the labor and delivery process. They really focused on the pregnancy process and didn't think so much of the post-partum process topics except when perhaps idealizing it. ‘ Oh I’m going to be holding my baby and I will make a gourmet meal for my husband when he comes home, oh my God I will have the cutest homemade birth announcement’ and all that kind of stuff.
Don’t often think about what that actually will really look like when you are really struggling and maybe you haven’t left the house in several days or showered in God knows how long. And the last thing that I think is really important to talk about is this concept of the non-tangible success. You know in our prior lives you are so good at what you do maybe you are a kick back lawyer and you know how to do your job and you get a certain amount of satisfaction and money and you can complete a project and get a pat on the shoulder or promotion.
As a mama of course none of those things are true you don’t have the tangible reward of I put in this effort and I get this much out of it. I mean certainly it's intangible from this standpoint of wow I am a good enough mom because I kept my baby alive, or I took a shower today. But man does that shift! If you are a high functioning person heading into the pregnancy you don’t think to give yourself credit for taking a shower for example.
SUNNY GAULT: Right that was always my goal.
BETH WARREN: Right, awesome goal. But it's not like on your to-do list so you can’t check it off and say I did that today I feel accomplished.
GRAEME SEABROOK: I had it on my- to- do list.
BETH WARREN: Oh good for you
GRAEME SEABROOK: I really did, I had to because it was like day four of no shower and I was like what is that smell? Oh my gosh that's me and I realized that every day I had said okay Graeme you need to take a shower and this happened and that happened and this other thing happened and I was checking all the things off the list that were actually written down and I had this light bulb moment like dah, if you write it down it will get done and I did and it got done. So I smell good now.
SUNNY GAULT: I was going to comment on how good you smell Graeme.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So now Beth, how soon after we have our baby can we begin to practice self-care and what can that look like?
BETH WARREN: Again I am such a broken record but I am so glad you asked this because there is no formula like let's go back to that article that we talked about of Chrissy Teigen going on a date night was totally possible and do-able for her at nine days. I think we need to back up for a second and just even quantify or talk about what is self-care. I ran a support group one time with new mommies and I actually put that up to the group what do you guys do for self-care? And it was like crickets and a lot of women actually admitted I don’t know what that means I don’t know what that is. I think it is good for us to define basically self-care is taking care of your needs, feeling your bucket, in other words. Doing what makes you feel good or what typically brought you pleasure before made you tap into your sense of identity.
To go back to your question of when can we engage in self-care after having a baby, immediately! What does that look like though? Of course, it's not going to look like you are running a marathon at the day or you are going to the spa. It actually might look like finding your voice. Maybe the nurse says something that you don’t understand and you need to speak up and give clarifications or maybe it means asking for a family member to bring in some lunch for you because for whatever reason that hospital food is not agreeing with you.
Maybe it means letting your husband know that you could use a shoulder rub as you’re breastfeeding because being hunched over is new to you and it feels uncomfortable for you back. It can look like a million different things.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I like that you said that because you are right, it doesn’t look the same for everybody. It can be different for everybody and even the small things may have to be a huge grand gesture can be something as simple as just eating with a fork and a knife and not having to drop food on your baby’s head.
BETH WARREN: Being a mom so much of it is really finding your voice again and learning to tap back into your needs and a lot of moms automatically shift and go to this stage of my needs come second and to decree that that has to be true if your baby is starving. You are not going to have to say oh hold on I have to go and eat first. Of course, you are not going to do that but how can you blend that so that you are still again filling your bucket.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I know a lot of us like you said it's a developmental shift. So from when people in life have demands and requests of you saying yes and no can be really difficult and I know I am guilty of this but a lot of us have a hard time saying no after we have baby so how can we identify that as an important part of self-care and how can we do it more easily?
BETH WARREN: Oh I love that, again I keep saying that I’m becoming very predictable. So part of it is practicing and just knowing yourself. So maybe prior to the pregnancy you weren't so great at this either so giving yourself a break that It's not like just because you became a mom that you are going to be so good with boundaries and so good with setting your limits and really being protective of yourself and saying no. So maybe this needs to be kind of a more lifetime of practicing.
One thing that I work with my clients on a lot that does have a hard time saying no and end up getting sucked into stuff and then getting resentful later is, first of all, doing a body scan. Really noticing if let’s say someone is asking you to do something or someone is saying hey we’re are going to do this with your baby, okay, and it doesn’t feel right where do you feel it into your body? If you are noticing that your body is giving you a warning sign this doesn’t feel good pay attention to that.
The other thing is we don’t have to just bust out and say no. A lot of us are socialized to be people pleasers as women and so it can be really scary to say no. We go into that thought process of oh my gosh, they are going to think I am bitchy or they are never going to come to me again. Sometimes it's even helpful to buy your self-time.
If you feel put on the spot to say let me think about that and get back to you or let me check it out or check my calendar and get back to you. The other thing that we do a lot is we give a lot of excuses, oh I am so sorry that's not going to work for me because this is what I am doing instead. What if we just practice sorry this is not going to work for me or I won’t be able to help you, this time, keeping it really simple, practicing is really crucial?
KRISTEN STRATTON: Yes because I think a lot of that can eventually run us into feeling burnt out. So what about feeling too burnt out to do anything? How do we get burnt out to and what preventive measures can we take to avoid getting to that place?
BETH WARREN: I think that burnt out starts really small like small little fractures in the foundation and every time they grow bigger and bigger so, for example, I see a lot of relationships were mother might feel like she has got it she knows it best husband try’s to help and she’s like no you are doing it wrong. Actually no, he is doing it differently and that's not wrong.
It's funny I have noticed how burn out often starts out with that that you just start doing more and more asking less and years down the road that you go you are not helping at all why don’t you do anything then we have got this poor dad with helplessness that doesn’t know really to engage with his children in those ways. Maybe doesn't change diapers automatically because he has been changed so many times whatever the case maybe.
The other thing about burnout is just thinking about small little changes. If you notice again during a body scan man I am fatigue or I am so resentful or I am really snapping the baby’s cry is really is getting to me, then making small little shifts, checking in with yourself like Graeme checklist checking in with yourself in terms of is there anything that is just for me on this list? Is there anything that is going to help me going to fill my bucket?
We all know that an allergy of when you are on the plane and they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put it on your child’s that is such a profound symbol though because if you have no oxygen how can we possibly take care of your child’s oxygen? The same kind of concept in motherhood, if you are not a solid self then how can you be there for your child?
GRAEME SEABROOK: I’m so glad you are saying all of these things. I think it is also one of those things that this are the steps that you need to take before the burn out that Kristen was talking about. This are things even before you have your baby or when you are home now or if you are home now with your baby and it's a month or two afterwards on the days that you have gotten sleep but when you do have a moment when you do feel pretty good that's when you want to think about let me write down five things that I could do right now that could help me smile that would take no money or would take five minutes.
Like what is my favorite song that I could just have on all of my devices and turn it on whenever I want so that it's on my phone and it's in on the CD in my car you know everywhere. I really like blowing bubbles like old school bubble gum, really horrible bubble gum bubbles because my mom would never let me have that gum with sugar when I was little.
SUNNY GAULT: Me too
GRAEME SEABROOK: Oh my gosh I go to Costco now because she can’t stop me. Oh my gosh I have so much there is gum everywhere there is gum in my purse there is gum in my car there is gum all over my house were my kids can't get to it and when the baby is screaming and it's taking forever put her down and I am just like oh done and I know I have two minutes before I have to do whatever my next thing is, I can blow bubbles. That's not a thing that is really expensive and that's a thing that kind of changes your whole day and you go from sliding down into burn out to giggling because you just blew bubbles like a five-year-old.
I think we think of self-care a lot as we have to go to the spa or we have to get a massage or we have to go out with our husband and get all dressed up. You really don't have to do all those things, it can be way easier than that.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I also find that social media is a really big contributing factor to us feeling like we are not taking care of our self because we see all the things that everyone else is doing. What people put on Facebook or they talk about on twitter or whatever platform they are using, it’s just a snapshot into our life and so it can be easy way for us to go ooh, I'm really doing a bad job because I didn't take my kid to the park five days after he was born or I didn't do this and that and so it can be easy to say I should be doing more, I should be getting up more, I should be more active and more social.
Maybe that's not what you need, you need to be more at home and just take a nice long bath or something like that. I think that influence of everyone else's life is really hard especially for our generation because we don't get realistic pictures of what everyone else is going through. We just see what they want us to see. So I think finding balance with social media is an important part of self-care so that you are not stressing about all the things that you are doing wrong.
BETH WARREN: Yes, you've named something so important I can't tell you the number of clients I have that say these things to me like I am literally the only one not getting out or everyone else can do it but me. Everyone else is way more capable as a mama than me. That is why I constantly I'm saying don't compare your insights to someone else’s outsights. I know of client that are struggling with crippling anxiety, crippling depression and yet they tell me that they are making this posts of these darling little baby pictures or here's me with this awesome filter and an Instagram does go out for a coffee but what people may not know is that was honestly the only time she had gotten out that entire week, but it made it look oh she's so cute the little twinkle hut and her lipstick . . .
Kristen: That kind of transitions us into the next thing I wanted to ask you about which is guilt. How do we get past feeling as if we are selfish for needing to do something for ourselves?
BETH WARREN: Such a good question and honestly this sound strange but I encourage you to just embrace that guilt. If we fight ourselves on gosh, I should be doing so much more but oh my God I feel so guilty when I leave my baby or let's say you did go to the gym or you did have a time out where you were away and you are just feeling very guilty. The more you fight yourself on what you are actually feeling the worse it will be. It’s actually like you are growing the monster instead of you just acknowledging the guilt almost kind of lean into it or like you are naming the dragon the slay the dragon. I think it is just okay to acknowledge you are going to feel guilty. You are a mom you are going to feel guilty at times but guilt is a liar. Guilt is not a true emotion, it’s a myth distorted. I actually encourage all of you to think about the most recent time you felt guilty and was it valid?
It's typically not a valid emotion that tells you that something is actually wrong. Its usually very, very distorted like I'm feeling guilty because I went for a walk, what?
KRISTEN STRATTON: It’s almost like ripping off a bandage right? You've just got to do it and you feel better once it’s off
GRAEME SEABROOK: And the more you do it the less guilty you feel. The first time that I left my family and went away for a night and literally it was in the same town, it was just in a hotel room like less than a mile away from my house because I just had to escape and everybody was just like look go, just go for one night and actually get sleep. The first time I did that I felt like the worst human being because what kind of a person needs an escape from their family? But now it is something that Adam and I both do regularly and we switch off every quarter. Somebody gets a weekend off, totally off.
BETH WARREN: Wow, what a great idea?
GRAEME SEABROOK: Yeah, we kick each other out of the house like you go away. We put it into our budget so that's it’s not a thing that is an extravagance but is something that we think of the same way we think of our power bill and our water bill and the mortgage and we always look for inexpensive hotels that are here in town and we clean it and you leave on Friday after work or for me when he gets home from work and you come back on Sunday night and you don't get calls or texts or emails or he doesn’t get to when I'm gone to text me and say 'hey babe do you remember where you put my so and so?', no. I am off the clock and I don't get to text him and go ' oh no there is a rich in the house come home'.
The first time it felt horrible, the first two-three times even though when I came home I felt so much better, more energized and was able to be a better mother. Even though I knew all those things were great I still felt horribly guilty. Like Beth was saying it wasn't real guilt that was silly. That was ridiculous guilt and now two years into that we are at zero guilt.
BETH WARREN: Isn't that awesome? It’s like what if you feel the guilt and do it anyway rather than somehow listening to the guilt as being a guide like oh I’m feeling guilty I shouldn’t do it. We all go through these seasons in our lives and sometimes they are seasons of giving where we are just the caregiver and we take care of everyone. We maybe bring meals to a sick friend blah blah but then there are also seasons of receiving and motherhood especially earlier on in your post-partum recovery.
I would say the first two years or so, seasons of receiving is what it’s all about, it’s now a season of receiving support, somebody else trying to help you check in and take care of yourself and you yourself receiving the love and care for yourself and so it’s good to think about those shifts. This isn't going to be forever it’s just temporary for now.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Which is such the antithesis of like the modern American woman right. The modern American woman does everything herself, her house is clean all the time, her laundry is always folded nicely and put away, dinner is always on the table on time and you know she doesn’t need anybody and she is out jogging first thing in the morning. It’s such a myth it doesn’t exist. It’s not reality and everyone sitting there blaming themselves for not having their acts together and I would say another one but this is a family show.
You don't have to be because guaranteed I know I am guilty of this I know some people sometimes come into my house, your house never gets cleaned faster than the five minutes before someone is going to walk into your door, right because you don't want them to see how you really live. Like you said what if we embraced it? What if we were like whatever, someone is coming into my house, this is my house, this is how we live, and you are going to have to deal with it?
GRAEME SEABROOK: How much better would you feel if you went to your friend’s house and it was a mess? How much more comfortable would you feel if you were like oh my gosh, it’s not just me?
BETH WARREN: You are so much right Kristine. There are so many cultures that actually embrace this idea of like seclusion and being surrounded by support when they first deliver lasting thirty to forty days and you are right, we don't have that in our culture. We do have this huge expectation for ourselves, I want to be a super mom and I'm going to be doing this and that and the key word there I not another concept of who's your village? How do you build your village so that you can feel secure as a mommy?
KRISTEN STRATTON: When we come back we'll continue our discussion on self-care and delayed post-partum depression.
We'll be right back
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome back to the show. We are continuing our discussion with Beth Warren. Beth, how are some of the ways we can incorporate what used to make us happy with our old self into our new life with our new identity as a mom?
BETH WARREN: It’s so interesting how many women feel like their old self is gone, is dead actually. I have had a lot of clients express it like a death this concept of the old me, like she is so far gone. You know it’s hard to picture yourself in your professional work clothes when you've been in the same pair of jammies for five days. It’s hard to picture yourself being smart and successful and on top of your game if you have that total brain fog that comes with sleep deprivation and feeling really frazzled because you don't know your baby is crying, you don't know how to soothe him or her.
It’s likely to think about how can you incorporate things that used to make you tick and really help shore up your sense of identity into this new self because remember what we talked about, what a huge developmental shift this is and it truly sometimes can feel like you are so far gone from your old self.
Some exercises you can do are to even put pen and paper and to start to think how you would have described yourself previously as well as right now like I am blank. Try if you can to avoid roles like " I am a lawyer" because of course, you are still a lawyer as a new mom but maybe you are not going to be going back to work for a while. Same thing, try to avoid saying I’m a mother because all those things are like yes you are. But who are you? What makes you feel happy? What kind of things do you notice that you have to have as part of your daily routine that is maybe are no longer part of your daily routine and constantly being incorporated into that?
Graeme’s example of the boy and bubbles is so perfect because it’s something makes you happy even if it’s the tiniest thing like spraying your perfume on even though nobody is going to smell you and your baby the whole day you know, anything like that. Anything that makes you happy and feels like your old self is going to be really helpful right now.
KRISTEN STRATTON: You know what's interesting is I got so much validation from when before I was a mom from academic success, career success but also music. I used to actually be an opera singer like the little-known fact about me. When I became a mom I was like I don't have time to take singing lessons, I don't have time to sing in church, I don't have time to do competitions anymore but I can sing to my kids and I can sing when I'm cooking and my kids can just deal with it. If they don't like it my kids are all critics. But that was something that at I first embarrassed because I was like what crazy person is singing while she is making pasta, that's a little crazy.
But I just started doing it actually just pretty recently I got to say. I just started like not being embarrassed and my kids are like mom that's like really annoying, mom you are so loud but I started feeling better. You know what you do you just figure out a way to like accommodate it in a way that is practical and functional in your new life but you still get joy from it.
It is important. I know a lot of people who think well if I find taking the time to invest in myself I'm taking from my kids, but how important is it that we forge a strong sense of self which is separate from being a parent.
BETH WARREN: This is I think the most crucial question that we are looking at today because I don't know if anyone knows this woman but it is really common for a woman who just devotes her entire heart and soul into being a mama and doesn’t really nurture herself, doesn’t take care of herself, doesn’t really take off her own needs throughout that when her kids grow up and leave the home that then it’s not their developmental crisis. It really is because a lot of women in my practice who come back to therapy or even start therapy when the kids have left the home and really is this existential crisis of who I'm I? If I'm not the mom that takes care of my kids every need and they need me so differently now who I'm I separate from then that?
That is something that you can start doing right away if not even before the baby starts arriving thinking about what really forges your identity and how can you maintain that throughout your time of early parenthood? For example, me I'm an extrovert, I know that I have to have an adult conversation, I know that I have to have my girlfriend time, my friend time so things like that. How can you make sure that these are things that are separate from you as a mommy and of course you are going to incorporate within that too if you can do both things together, self-care and time with your kids perfect.
It’s important to try and differentiate that as much as possible. Does anyone of you guys struggle with that or see that happening?
GRAEME SEABROOK: Yes, I have a little moment actually because I was talking to my therapist about my relationship with my mom and my relationship with my daughter. How I wanted that relationship to be? She just said like you are creating this from scratch, you can do whatever you want you can show her how she should be treating herself and I was like oh my gosh, I totally can, oh wow, that became a whole I don't know, that was amazing to me.
So, me taking care of myself I can show that both of my kids that when I say I need to step away from my guys and when they see me go out with my friends or they see their dad go out with his friends you know when they see us do those things they are going to remember them if we keep doing them as they grow up. They are going to see how it works in this family that we all take care of each other and we all take care of ourselves. And then hopefully when if my kids have kids they are not going to be having this conversation because they are going to be like of course I have to take care of myself what are you talking about.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Yeah, you are modeling self-care
BETH WARREN: A lot of women will end up thinking that if they do this self-care piece that it’s taking away from their children and Graeme you are so right it’s actually adding. You are teaching them these really valuable life lessons that are maybe not overt or even stated, it’s just things that they learn by modeling.
KRISTEN STRATTON: You know it’s something that I've been starting to incorporate too is like I know a lot of people my age and my daughter's and it was you have to be perfect all the time, a lot of us are perfectionists. So I started telling my daughter you know when I had a bad day like part of my self-care is verbalizing and saying out loud like it’s okay that I made a mistake today. I start telling my daughter I'm like you know when mommy did that today, I'm really sorry about that but you know I've never been a mommy before. I started telling her you know I'm learning.
Every day I'm learning how to be a mommy because I'm new at this. I've only been a mom for six years compared to my mom who has been a mom for forty something and you know just trying to have these conversations out loose so that kids hear this because my boys are hopefully going to be fathers some day and maybe my daughters are going to be mothers someday.
For them to know that parents are not perfect and that is okay and so that's my kind of self-care validating that I'm human and being human is normal and that every day is a learning process.
BETH WARREN: Same with date nights right, like any sort of intimacy re-building sometimes people feel that it them away time with their babies or their time with their children and actually that helps strengthen that familiar bond so much and it really does teach the children that actually you guys as a couple come first and in order for the child to feel secure they need to see that you guys are secure so is really important.
KRISTEN STRATTON: How does self-care help us overcome post-partum depression, post-partum anxiety and how should it be incorporated into other support to help us heal?
BETH WARREN: This is such a valuable question because if you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder or if you don't, self-care is going to be as crucial as part of shoring up and feeling more stable as a new parent. Particularly when you are struggling with a mood disorder I think everyone who is listening who does can relate to this, your motivation goes out the door.
Usually, people, it’s like this paradox of co-motivation aspect where women often will be having no motivation to do anything. They might even be isolating from others that super-imposed on the sleep deprivation and already the struggle to cope that a lot of parents feel and yet if you sit around and wait for the motivation to kick in it’s not going to.
It’s this paradox that you often have to put one foot in front of the other and then the motivation kicks in. It’s exactly like Graeme was saying like pulling a bandage off, the more you do the more you are going to want to do. For example, the first time that you take that baby out and you go to the grocery store might be so hard and you might way over pack and have fifteen diapers with you and you maybe be so panicked at the thought of baby melting down and oh my God, I’m going to have to leave and what if I have to feed?
When you do it you go that wasn't perfect but I did it and I got groceries and we are both alive so let's go back home. The next time you do it you will go okay, I don't need fifteen diapers, I need maybe ten diapers etcetera. The more you do it the more you that the motivation is going to kick in. Same kind of thing with slowly incorporating exercise back into your life in the post-partum period nor it is realistic to expect that you are going to out and do this huge activity.
If you even just throw the baby in a stroller and go out to go get the mail and back, hey you did that! You got sunlight exposure, you got out and got fresh air, sometimes it can be really isolating and just to even see other people even if you don't engage with them is like oh yeah, I'm not alone, I'm not on an island and then that behavioral mobilization happens. The more you do the more you are going to want to do.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Well thank you so much, Beth, and thank you, Graeme, for being on our show today. For our Newbies' club members this conversion will continue after the end of the show as Beth will provide tips on dealing with relatives whose opinion about self-care might not be healthy or supportive.
SUNNY GAULT: All right before we wrap up our conversation today we have I kind of tease this earlier on the show. We have got this segment that we do for iTunes reviews I was encouraging everyone to do iTunes reviews and help us out so other parents can find our show. So we are going to talk about iTunes reviews and this comes from Mrs. K. Harvey from Canada. She gave us five stars and the title of it was perfect timing. She says so glad that this podcast is up running I am due for my first one in September and I just finished catching up on the awesome podcasts. I am now enjoying some awesome episodes in the Newbies' podcast. The topics are interesting the guests are informative and I absolutely love that there are panelist’s on this podcast as well.
Thanks for making such a great podcast for us Newbies, I love it. It’s so sweet. I mean you expect to hear from people that don't like stuff but it is really nice to hear from people that do love your content. So this is awesome keep them coming we love this reviews or if you just want to send us an email we can also read that on the show as well we really do appreciate hearing from all the listeners because that's why we do this show to help everyone out there. So thanks so much from Mrs. K. Harvey.
KRISTEN STRATTON: That wraps up our show we appreciate you listening to Newbies
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Parent Savers for moms and dads for toddlers
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
• Boob Group for Moms who give breast milk to their babies
Thanks for listening to Newbies, your go-to source for new moms and new babies
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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