Many celebrations of mothers and motherhood have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years. These days we continue the tradition by acknowledging Mother’s Day to honour the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.
As wonderful as it is to publicly honour our mothers on one day of the year we must remember that mothers are generally on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year (as are dad’s but that’s a story for September). Parenthood is one demanding job! So while mum is busy looking after everyone and everything, who is actually looking after mum?
Some women seem to take to motherhood naturally while others have a more trying time. Some kids are a breeze while others are an enigma. As a mother of 2 older teens, I have noticed that each phase of motherhood has its different challenges mentally, emotionally and physically. The old expression that ‘it takes a community to raise a child’ is so important to remember because while we try to be superwomen we actually can’t do it all, not without falling apart at some level.
As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I feel fortunate that I was able to call upon my trade to support me, at least at a physical level. By having regular acupuncture treatments, by taking herbs when I needed them and by eating appropriately I was, and am, able to make sure that I have enough energy to do all that needs to be done, both as a mother and as a businesswoman. When I’m tired everything feels overwhelming but when I have enough energy I can take on whatever my children, or the world, chooses to throw at me, literally and figuratively.
For new mums, this is a challenging time of shifting hormones, sleepless nights, a new dynamic with your partner, around the clock breast or bottle feeding, and constantly trying to understand what your new charge needs. It can take 6 weeks to recover from the actual birth so it is important to allow yourself to rest and recuperate during this time. Do what you can to stock up the freezer with warming and nourishing food before the baby comes, call upon your friends and family for help, forget about how the house looks and rest whenever baby does.
Generally, you should notice the following:
- Breast engorgement should settle within 2-3 days
- Bowels should have moved by day 3
- Baby blues may kick in around day 3 but should pass after a few days
- Afterpains (abdominal cramps) usually disappear within 4-7 days
- Perineum should heal within 7-10 days
- Bleeding (lochia discharge) can continue for 6 weeks
This is what should happen but sometimes things don’t quite go to plan. Should any health issues arise for you post birth (persistent uterine bleeding, continuing after pains, night sweats, perineal discomfort, breastfeeding problems [insufficient lactation, mastitis], minor post-natal depression) call your local Chinese medicine practitioner because Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs can help address all of these issues.
The wonderful thing about children is that they grow up one day at a time which gives us a good chance to work out how to look after them, one day at a time. My focus at this point, however, is looking after you!
Once you get the hang of being a mum you may decide you want another or you start to help out your friends with their kids or you just start adopting strays, of any description, that need some mothering. A quick word about having number 2 or 3 or more. Many women I see in clinic wonder why they fell pregnant so easily the first time but struggle with falling pregnant again. Remember that you are now a couple of years older and the equivalent of many years more tired. Give your body a real chance to recuperate as it may take a good 2 years before you can put your all back into creating another life. Falling pregnant again when your little one is around 2 years old is ideal for both them and you. If you’re still struggling, however, Chinese medicine can certainly help you to get your energy and your fertility back on track.
You may also decide to head back to work and then you begin the precarious job of juggling work and family. Before you know it you’re wondering whether you’re coming or going, what time of the day it is or what day of the week you’re up to.
It is important to remember that when life is asking something from you on a daily basis that you allow yourself at least 20 minutes each day to just stop and take some deep belly breaths. Check in on yourself and see what YOU need.
- Have you spent any time in nature and had your daily dose of sunshine and fresh air recently?
- Are you drinking enough water and eating nourishing meals?
- Have you done any exercise of any description including dancing around the house when no one is looking?
- Are you getting enough restful sleep?
These are the best ways to look after yourself. ‘You time’ is more important than ever the more you have to accomplish, so each week you should ask yourself – what have you done for you? There is an old saying – “you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”. The more you need to accomplish the more important it is to make time for you. So on top of 20 minutes of breathing space daily and doing something that makes your heart smile weekly I also recommend regular acupuncture treatments as a great way to top up your tank, and work on ensuring you are sleeping well, digesting well, have plenty of energy and immunity to keep you as strong as you can be to take care of all you want to take care of. If you don’t look after you then you won’t have the energy to look after anyone else.
There are two wonderful books that I would like to recommend that have helped me to better look after myself. One is “Buddhism for mothers, a calm approach to caring for yourself and your children” by Sarah Napthali. The other is “The art of extreme self-care” by Cheryl Richardson. Both these women have some wonderful insights into self-care.
So what Mother’s Day resolution will you put in place to look after yourself now that you know how important it is to do so? Pick up the phone and make an appointment with your local Chinese medicine practitioner today and then you may just become your own version of superwoman.
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, and Wholefood counselling). Tania is an AHPRA registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine located in Botany and Katoomba, NSW and is a lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.