Okay, so your baby is Earthside. They’re feeding, growing and pooping so much, you’re sure there must be a tiny poop machine located somewhere inside them. You might be strung out, up throughout the night to feed baby and stare at them (which may seem weird in print, but is totally natural at the time). We all know humans need fuel to make bodies work, but when a new little human comes along, sometimes things fall by the wayside. You’d be forgiven for smuggling a packet of biscuits into bed and devouring the entire thing at 11pm when you realise you haven’t eaten all day. So, how does a parent nourish themselves when one of their main focuses is nourishing another human?
It may surprise the readership, but this little old lady doesn’t have all the answers. I know. So shocking, right?? It can be so easy to forget that you actually need to eat, when you’re in parent mode (and once we become parents, when are we not in parent mode??). So, it might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
Am I feeling supported? It may seem an odd question to pose, when talking about food. However, nourishment isn’t just about the edible things. Nourishment often starts with those we love. Are they cheering you on through the highs and the lows? Are they taking any concerns or worries you have, seriously? Are they listening when you need an ear and washing a dish when you have your hands full? That is, assuming you have family, friends and supportive people around you - not everybody does. That’s a reality many parents face, each with differing, individual circumstances. Everyone’s situation is unique, but one thing is for certain: parenting is easier with a village. If you don’t have loved ones around you, parenting, play or support groups may not fill the gap fully, but they can help carve out a support team. If you have close friends and family around you, rope them in to your village. Take them up on their offers of visits (if you like them enough to let them in your home), or assistance on a grocery and errand run.
Am I feeling fresh? Parenting can put a whole new spin on toileting and bathing. Whether it’s mounds of nappies and baby baths, or your own experience of trying to do these things after having children, parenting changes things. Sometimes the day can slip away with ne’er a toothbrush or bar of soap in sight. Don’t feel guilty or gross; these things happen. Parents are busy! Our lives are centred around tiny people whose needs constantly have to be met. If you’re feeling ‘meh’, a shower and a brush of the old toothy pegs can make one feel (more) a part of the human race again. So, at suitable times (which are rare, at best), allow yourself the gift of hot water. If the feelings you are experiencing are more than the ‘meh’ variety, having a chat with your GP about how you’re feeling, can be a great place to start.
Am I eating? Making time to eat can be hard. Like, mega hard. Children need us. Parenting can be exhausting. Sometimes, our stomachs don’t let us know they exist until we’re already in bed after a big day. Some good things to ponder might include: what do you like to eat? Are there any ways to make the food you like, portable or easily accessible? Are one-handed snacks beneficial to you as an individual (because we are all different), or do they put you off eating main meals? It can be really difficult to ensure you’re eating and drinking the way your own body requires, but some find meal planning; cooking in big batches and freezing portions; or delivery services to be useful. Whatever works best for you and your family, know that you are worthy of the nourishment food provides. GPs and qualified dietitians and nutritionists can assist with your individual dietary and medical needs. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional to have a chat about food and eating habits.
Every day is a new opportunity to have a do-over at nourishing yourself. Not because deodorant isn’t working anymore... but because you deserve it. We spend our lives ensuring other people are bathed, fed and loved. Sometimes, we forget about and de-value ourselves. Our children are just that important. Don’t forget that nourishing you is just as important as nourishing them, because without you, none of those things happen. Irrespective of when you last brushed your hair or washed your pits, you are BEAUTIFUL and you’re doing a fab job. High five and boob on.
Contacts for more-than-‘meh’ feelings:
LifeLine: http://www.lifeline.org.au; 13 11 14
BeyondBlue: http://www.beyondblue.org.au, 1300 22 4636
PANDA: http://www.panda.org.au; 1300 726 306
HELD Birth Trauma: http://www.birthtraumaaustralia.com; 1300 91 80 90
BirthTalk: http://www.birthtalk.org; 0410 408 335
Mai is a Mum who would love to roll down hills, if it wasn't for a grass allergy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Sociology and is currently undertaking a postgraduate degree in counselling. Passionate about all things birth and breastfeeding, Mai has a special interest in: debriefing parenting experiences; birth trauma; grief; and loss. She is an advocate for tongue and lip tie support; breastfeeding rights; and feeding choices, including breastfeeding to term. She believes everyone deserves to tell their story and truly be heard.