By Ellie Wright
I’m Ellie, a specialist antenatal/postnatal Physiotherapist and Mummy to Theodore. My own pregnancy and postnatal journey fuelled my desire to help mums achieve an active lifestyle and get the postnatal care they deserve. I love my work, especially offering the Mummy MOT and being able to give Mums back the confidence in their bodies.
So, it’s not quite how you expected to welcome the new member of your family! Dad’s on lockdown, panic buying in the shops, loved ones not yet able to visit you and your bundle of joy…
New Mums regardless of this isolation can feel anxious, lonely, overwhelmed and of course utterly exhausted. If this is you then don’t feel alone, Hundreds of Mums up and down the country will be feeling the same as we experience this new ‘normal’!
The joys and challenges of having a newborn can be tricky to navigate at the best of times but in this climate, during lockdown, it is more important than ever to look after YOU as well as your little one.
Happy Mum, happy baby!
Here are my top tips for surviving lockdown with a baby:
1. Keep up a support network
The biggest blow is not physically having your close friends and family on hand to help. HOWEVER, lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t still have a fantastic support group who are on hand to share the joyful days, the tough days and all those new-born emotions with you. Why not try:
- skype, zoom, whatsapp calls
- Set up a whatsapp ‘helpline’ group with trusted friends for those moments you need to laugh (or cry) or to ask those random middle of the night questions
- Go oldschool and write letters to family or friends or even yourself explaining how you are feeling (even if you don’t post them) – letting go of pent up feelings through writing can be a great way to emotionally release
- Schedule daily or weekly calls with people who lift you up and support you
- Simply knowing you have a ‘crew’ that have your back in this time can make a huge difference to how you feel day to day
2. Eat well
Easier said than done right? I have been there myself chomping down on a pack of biscuits for a sugar hit, sinking a sharer bag of crisps when the lack of sleep bites. Unfortunately this doesn’t make you feel good mentally or physically. Your body has just been through a trauma and nourishing it will aid your recovery and give you the boost to nurture your baby.
A balanced diet of calcium (dairy,leafy greens, fortified cereal), fibres (fruit, veg, lentils), iron (kidney beans, apricots, meat), protein (eggs, beans, soy, lean means) will do you more service than that pack of mini eggs (as delish as they are).
How will I manage eating well during lockdown you ask?
- Shop online (when you can get a slot and add to it as you need)
- Ask trusted friends, neighbours to collect you a few healthy essentials when they shop
- Designate a time each week where you partner can do the weekly shop so that you can plan ahead for it (why not use the time they are out to video call one of your trusted ‘crew’ with the little one
- Say YES to people offering to drop over healthy wholesome meals for the freezer that you can just pop in the oven at the end of the day
- Eat little and often so you don’t get overly hungry and get tempted to binge when energy levels drop
- HYDRATE – don’t underestimate the power of drinking water- we lose a lot of fluid postnatally through bleeding, the good old hormone sweats and expressing milk. Try for 8-10 glasses a day (why not get a snazzy bottle and keep it close to hand)
3. Nurture YOU
- REST – some cultures advocate Mum and baby staying in the home close to the comfort of the bed for up to 60 days! If nothing else lockdown gives you the perfect opportunity to rest and properly recuperate after giving birth. Get comfy in favourite pjs or loungewear and doze or relax after baby has fed, pop on Netflix or read a book if you don’t want to nap.
- Get your partner to create a nook in your home that is specially for you to relax without baby (think snuggly blanket and cushions in a corner with your headphones to listen to music, candles or fairy lights, your favourite book or magazine, then take yourself here if you need a cooling off period or few minutes for yourself .
- Mindfulness (apps like headspace, calm and smiling mind are great). Even a 2-3 minute session can aid relaxation and help you feel more ‘you’
- Have a bath with baby – great for skin to skin and endorphin boosting. Will often calm a fractious baby as well as soothing your muscles. Even a quick dip will make the difference and if you have a partner who can take baby you could always soak for longer
- Lavender spray on your pillow to help you wind down to sleep
- DON’T rush around when baby sleeps doing all the chores. Write a list of things that feel important to you and just do 1 or 2. Share these tasks out between yourself and partner if able
- If you have older children snuggle down with them when baby naps and watch a film or colour together
Listen to your body and only do what feels GOOD.
- Stretch – with feeding and lifting, changing nappies and rocking our baby our upper and lower back can take a hit. Gentle stretches such as pulling your shoulders down and back, lying on your back and bringing your knees to your chest, cat/cow and taking your ear to each shoulder to stretch the neck can really help alleviate pain or tightness.
- Dance with your baby – in a sling or in your arms, enjoy a bit of a wiggle to your favourite music
- Gentle pilates or yoga
- As you recover you may want to get back into exercise. You can ensure your body is ready by seeing a women’s health Physiotherapist. We can allow you to exercise safely after having your baby
5. Love your PELVIC FLOOR
As a Physiotherapist specialising in antenatal and postnatal care there is no way I could round my advice off without mentioning this wonderful group of muscles. The pelvic floor acts like a hammock in your pelvis to support your pelvic organs. During pregnancy and postnatally the pelvic floor is stretched and weakened. Strengthening your pelvic floor after birth will:
- Increase blood flow to promote healing
- Prevent and treat any symptoms of leaking
- Increase the potential for stronger orgasm
- Allow your body to support your pelvic organs as you lift
To exercise your pelvic floor take a breath in (relax shoulders) and on your breath out imagine you are stopping yourself passing wind or the flow of urine. THINK SQUEEZE AND LIFT. Then make sure you fully release. Try to repeat 4 x daily up to 10 times. In the early days just try doing a few squeezes a few times a day then build up. You WILL get stronger and reap the rewards.