Photo by @brookearitchie
As a midwife working in a hospital, it’s incredibly frustrating to me when pregnant women are absolutely inundated with questions about their pregnancy from people they know, as well as from complete strangers. I really feel for pregnant women in the sense that people are dying to know the personal, juicy details about their experiences, but no-one really thinks to ask the woman behind the pregnancy or the mother of the baby “how are you going?” or “are you ok?”.
Pregnancy can be equally bewildering, exciting and scary for multitudes of women, it can also be incredibly alienating and dehumanising, and that’s before the baby has even made their grand entrance to the world. With all that’s happening in the world today, pregnant women are scared, they’re emotional and they’re really struggling living life without the community of support they would otherwise have access to pre-pandemic. Mental health is important regardless of whether you are pregnant or not, and mental health issues do not discriminate and can affect anyone. When you combine pregnancy with isolation, it can lead to a manifestation of negative mental health experiences. Replace pregnancy with a baby and a drastic change to daily routine and you’re looking at an incredibly ruthless breeding ground for mental health issues.
Whilst access to mental health resources is limited and the support is confined to a computer screen, it’s more important than ever that expectant mothers and mothers to new babies are taking the time to incorporate a self-care routine into their daily living. Self-care doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle upheaval, rather, subtle changes that can make you feel like you’ve taken the time and effort to take care of yourself without doing much at all.
I’m the up and coming author of a brand spanking new pregnancy education resource; “Midwife in my Pocket”. Within the eBook (self-proclaimed book of the year), I describe a little something called “Me-Time”, which is a self-care method that requires you to incorporate something that you love, and something that will make you feel more like yourself into your daily routine to ensure your physical and mental wellbeing. I have some incredibly easy, cheap and fun “Me-Time” recommendations that I believe every mother (or woman in general) should incorporate into their daily routine, regardless of whether they’re pregnant or have a screaming baby attached to their hip (or boob).
As a non-mother, my “Me-Time” routine consists of shoving myself on the couch accompanied by a packet of TimTams (I do eat them all if you’re wondering), watching hours upon hours of Gossip Girl, whilst simultaneously applying a tissue facemask (that’ll fix years of skincare neglect). I know for a fact this isn’t realistic for all mothers out there, but here’s some bloody good “Me-Time” recommendations that’ll have you feeling a million bucks.
Hobbies are a beautiful thing. If you have a hobby, I encourage you to immerse yourself in it as deeply as realistic for you and your new family. If you love knitting, make a sweater, if you love painting, grab some supplies and get creative, if you love gaming, stop being AFK and get amongst it! The possibilities are endless! You’d be surprised how much better you can feel when you allocate even just a half hour a day to performing your favourite activity. “Yeah, ok, but where will I find the time?!” you reckon. Well, babies sleep heaps during the day, right? If your eyes aren’t hanging out of your head from the night before, use sleep as your “Me-Time” activity if it is something that you really love (and need), but if you think a half-hour of baking is a bloody good time, then pick up the spatula and pre-heat the oven! If you don’t have a hobby, use “Me Time” as a good excuse to find one! If hobbies aren’t really your go-to, I encourage you to allocate the time each day to something you genuinely love. If that’s a TV show or a really good book or going for a run, there’s a perfect “Me-Time” activity (if a run brings you happiness, I really envy you)! As long as you’re doing something every day that brings you pure happiness and makes your heart sing a little bit, that’s all that matters. “Me-Time” is only “your time” if you let it be. Don’t let other mother’s dictate what you should be doing with your spare time, it’s YOUR time, so if you’re not cleaning up after the baby, spend that precious time to love yourself and make yourself feel like a human being again.
One “Me-Time” activity that can be a little expensive but really fun to do is skincare routines. I know it sounds silly to some people, especially because face washing can sometimes be an absolute chore, but for some, skincare is a really nice way to unwind and generally feel just that little bit nicer. Your skincare routine doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant, but you’d be surprised how applying a ten-minute facemask (coupled with a glass of wine, scented candle and cute robe) can make you feel like a rejuvenated goddess! If skincare isn’t your thing, but you really like the idea of feeling clean; throw yourself into the shower, steam it up like a sauna and shave your overgrown legs or something! Then whack on some moisturiser until you’re able to slide across your tiles like a seal (I got carried away there, but you get the idea).
I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to allocate time in your day to doing something you love. “Me-Time” doesn’t have to just be contained to yourself either. If you love being with your partner/best friend/family member, take the time each day to call them or go to coffee or curl up together on the couch and enjoy an episode of “The Bachelor” together (we all know men LIVE for the drama!). Involve your baby too! If exercise is something that you love, pop the bubby in a pram and go for a walk outside together for a change of scenery (sometimes a different environment can make a heap of improvement to your mood). Pregnancy and motherhood are an amazing adventure, but don’t forget the little things that matter amidst all the new changes. I know it’s hard in the midst of a pandemic, but you need to think of yourself every once in a while, and just let yourself be a teensy bit selfish for a change. Don’t feel guilty for putting yourself first and don’t ever apologise for taking the time to prioritise your mental health. The world is a pretty scary place at the moment, it doesn’t need to be made scarier by a mother who feels a little bit neglected because she hasn’t taken the time to look after herself.
I hope this “Me-Time” and self-care article gives you some inspiration to kick off your breast pump and throw on some good old-fashioned crappy reality TV or something. You’re a mother doing some pretty incredible things, you deserve half an hour (or more if you really like) to veg out on the couch babe!
With all my love,
Professional “Me-Timer”, highly underrated up-and-coming eBook author, extraordinary registered midwife/nurse, Zoe Robson (@midwifeinmypocket / @zoerobson_, empowerment through education coming soon xx)