Life Skills Programme – Self-care and living skills
7 reasons why new mums are so exhausted
It goes without saying that all mums of small children feel perma-knackered. Night after night of broken sleep leaves you wading through fugs of tiredness. A tiredness that can actually hurt – you feel achey in the very marrow of your bones.
But lack of sleep isn’t the real reason that mums are so exhausted. Oh no. It’s the rest of it that tires you out…
1. There’s no time to recover
Who was it that compared labour to a marathon? We want to shake their hand.
But when exactly do we get our medals? And that silver cape thingy? And do marathon runners then have to keep a really small person alive afterwards, with someone waking you up every few minutes for weeks afterwards? Oh, and maybe look after another small but slightly bigger person at the same time who wants to go out and do things all the time? And also wishes the baby could be sent back? No, we didn’t think so.
What makes a difference: Come and help us. Now please. Don’t bring babygros and arrive wanting cuddles then to disappear off again. Come, tuck me into bed, and do stuff. Anything. Just lots of it. So I don’t have to. Thank you.
2. The overwhelming sense of responsibility
As soon as your tiny newborn is placed in your arms, the overwhelming sense of responsibility hits you. This little baby is entirely dependent on you. It’s you who has to provide them with everything they need.
If you’ve been through it before you’re exhausted at just the thought. And if you haven’t, your exhausted at just the thought. It’s big and it’s scary and big and scary things require lots of effort.
What makes a difference: Be there, please. And say nice things, please. Remind us it’s just about taking one step at a time, please. Thank you.
3. You’re on the biggest, ever, learning curve
Everything is new. Even if you’ve been a mum before, you’ve never been a mum to this person before.
You have to quickly figure out and get to grips with the big (like feeding and learning how best to soothe your baby when she cries) and the small (like how to wrestle fragile, bendy little legs into sleepsuits with a million poppers and how to put a buggy up when you’ve got a wriggly baby in one arm) and everything in between.
The day that was once familiar is now a series of things to learn from scratch. When all you really want to do is lie down and start again tomorrow.
What makes a difference: Please understand that all I want to do right now is get to know my new little person. I don’t have the time, head space or energy for anything else. Thank you.
4. You’re all on your own
It started in pregnancy but was really brought home in labour. The realisation that, however much support you have, only you can do it: only you can give birth. Only you can breastfeed. Only you can be Mummy.
What makes a difference: Be kind. I’m a bit scared. Thank you.
5. There’s so much to hold in your head
There’s so much stuff you need to remember. Midwife visits, feeding schedules, things to remember to pack on a day out, stuff you need to buy and replenish, what time the next feed’s due, which boob to use. Wait: what day is it again?!
What makes a difference: Forgive me if I forget things. Did I say, thank you?
6. Your own needs come last
Each day you are at the back of the queue when it comes to your own needs, let alone wants.
You might be hungry but your baby needs to be fed first. You’re thirsty but your baby needs her drink first and your glass of water is JUST out of reach. You may be falling over with tiredness, but your baby needs to be rocked to sleep first.
What makes a difference: Please don’t comment if I’m in my pyjamas when you knock on the door at lunchtime. Thank you.
7. It doesn’t stop
You’re exhausted and overwhelmed but it can seem like there’s no end in sight. Days bleed into nights and back into days. Whenever you grab just five minutes to rest your baby cries and needs you again.
There’s no lunchbreak as a new mum. Dammit – some days there’s not even a tea break.
What makes a difference: Stick the kettle on, will you? Thank you.
How to eat healthily with a newborn in tow
When you have a newborn baby, it’s all too easy to slip into bad food habits like reaching for biscuits and crisps to get through the day. But with some clever planning and healthy meal ideas, you can break those bad habits and start eating healthily again in no time.
1. Stock up on healthy snacks
If the temptation is there, you’ll find it. Getting rid of the crisps, biscuits and chocolate bars, and trying a few simple swaps means you get some much-needed nutrients at snack time, without quite as much sugar and salt.
Good snacks to have in include pumpkin seeds, almonds, oat cakes (which you can top with humus), and low-sugar granola, which is filled with oats and seeds and tastes great with yoghurt.
And Quorn Mini Savoury Eggs make handy little ready-to- eat snacks, too. Just as tasty as meaty snacks they contain around 75% less saturated fat and are high in protein, too.
2. Fill the freezer
Having bags of ready-prepared frozen veg makes it super easy to have a nutrient-packed meal. They’re just as nutritious as fresh fruit and veg and really quick to cook.
Add them to stews, stir-fries or as a side in seconds!
Bags of frozen berries are handy to have in the freezer, too. They’re usually cheaper than buying fresh fruit and you can add them to porridge or whizz them up with yoghurt into a quick, healthy and vitamin-packed smoothie – ideal for boosting your immune system.
3. Cook with Quorn
With many Quorn products high in protein and fibre and low in fat, Quorn is ideal for new mums. Use Quorn Mince to make a healthier and speedy version of spag bol or lasagne (it cooks from frozen, in minutes!).
Or keep some Quorn Sausages in the fridge for a hearty but healthy sausage sandwich or Quorn Vegetarian Bacon for a lower-calorie bacon butty – ideal when you’ve been up since the crack of dawn.
4. Order online
Sorting out your weekly shop online means you can fill a basket with all the healthy foods we’ve suggested – and you won’t get tempted by all those naughty snacks near the checkout!
Plus, someone will even deliver it straight into your kitchen, when it suits you.
Bonus, as you don’t have to cart your newborn around the supermarket.
5. Take shortcuts
When you’re a new mum, even the thought of making a salad or peeling an orange to eat can seem overwhelming, let alone time consuming (and practically impossible when you usually have only one hand to do things with).
Buying in a few ready-prepared mixed salads and fruit salads that you can just open up, grab a fork (or use your fingers!) – no effort required.
6. Say ‘yes’ to help
If friends and family offer to bring a meal or do a shop, take them up on it and ask them to make something healthy for you. If no one has offered and you’re struggling, then do ask for help.
No one will mind rustling up a salad, stew or lasagne for you if they know you’re struggling.
7. Double up
If you do finally get the chance to cook something, make double or even triple, depending on what it is. Make a double batch of shepherd’s pie, double pasta (you can reheat it tomorrow) or if you boil an egg, boil six so you’ve got hard-boiled eggs to snack on for the rest of the week.
8. Eat when your baby eats
Ok, so you may be feeding every 2-3 hours or so, but eating little and often is a great way to stabilise your blood sugar and energy levels ensuring you’re never starving hungry.
That way, you’re less likely to reach for the biscuit tin – a sure way to get a sugary high followed by an energy slump shortly after (and let’s face it, you need all the energy you can get).
9 Drink lots
New mums need to drink at least two litres of water a day to stay hydrated – more if you’re breastfeeding.
It’s easy to mistake being thirsty for hunger, too, so have a bottle of water on the go and you may just find that you don’t eat quite as much as you did before.
If you don’t love the taste of water, reach your daily quota by adding sliced lemon, orange or cucumber to a bottle and keep it in the fridge. Clever!
10. Be prepared
As a new mum, you might find you spend a lot of your time nursing in yours or your baby’s bedroom upstairs, so have a snack supply there, too.
Some mums find a mini fridge is handy to have in the bedroom for storing breastmilk or milk supplies, so you can always keep some fruit to nibble on, assuming you’ve mastered the one-handed night feed, of course.
The same goes for keeping of those healthy snack ideas (mentioned above) in your changing bag, buggy organiser or car glove box for whenever you manage to get out and about.