There are many assumptions we make about motherhood and many of them aren’t true. Sure, you’ll be tired while you have a young baby needing regular night feeds, and yes, your tummy won’t just pop back to the way it was before baby. And absolutely your hormones have a party when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding.
But the assumptions that we’ll be stuck with belly fat, always feel tired and that PMT is just a part of life for women, are plain misleading.
I remember wondering at some stage after child number 2, if my fatigue would ever go away. How long was it supposed to last? Was it actually normal for a mother to feel this way all the time or was there perhaps something wrong with me?
Yes, there was something wrong with me but it wasn’t motherhood causing it. It was what I call ‘the modern mother overload’ – too much busyness, too much information and too many commitments that were impossible to manage without a negative consequence, which was the loss of my health and vitality.
I know differently now and know what I need to do to never feel that way again.
Here are some tell-tale signs that you’re probably suffering this overload:
- Fatigue. It’s not normal to always feel tired or exhausted, especially once the night feeding phase has past. Your body is designed to have energy. If you don’t, it’s not motherhood doing it to you.
- Stubborn belly fat. If you’re eating reasonably well, getting some form of exercise or movement and your tummy is still round, there’s something else going on and often it’s related to having overloaded days. Constant pressure upsets your hormones and your hormones have some control over your fat stores.
- PMT. While we’re talking hormones, if you suffer any emotional or physical symptoms in relation to your period, (I call it hor-moan-al hell), then that’s not normal. We’ve been conditioned to believe hormonal issues are just part of being a woman – they’re not. If you have symptoms, your body is trying to tell you something.
- Pain. In the neck, back, headaches – tension from busyness and stress will eventually show itself up in a physical sense. Again, your body is talking to you. Don’t write it off as a sign of old age ladies – it’s a discussion your body is trying to have with you.
- Night waking. I thought I was the only one who did this, but almost every woman I meet tells me they wake in the middle of the night for various reasons, often thinking about something they’ve forgotten, something they need to remember for tomorrow, or something they’re worried about. Remember when you used to sleep through the night? That’s normal.
- Anxiety, depression, unhappiness. Overload affects your digestion and most of your happy hormone, serotonin, is stored in your gut. When your digestion is compromised, or you’re not eating well because you feel too busy to make the time for it, your mood will be affected, and not for the better.
There are other reasons for these symptoms of course and this is by no means a comprehensive explanation of the ways stress and overload can show up in your body and affect your health. It may manifest differently for you. My point is though, that yes, being a mum means you have a lot going on. That is definitely not a myth. You have a lot to think about, a lot to remember and a lot to do, but it doesn’t have to come with this sort of baggage and it shouldn’t cost you your health and wellbeing in the process.
These symptoms are not normal, even though they’ve become widespread. If you have them, it’s worth investigating why and how to get rid of them.
Here are some simple quick tips to lighten the load today:
- Breathe deeply. Several times a day, get in to the habit of taking four deep breaths into your belly. It calms your body and mind.
- Ease up on the caffeine. Caffeine affects your adrenal system, robbing you of energy and raising your stress levels even if you don’t realise it. This mucks up your hormones and affects your fat storage.
- Eat slowly and only. By only I mean don’t do something else while you eat. No reading, TV or Facebooking. Allow your body to concentrate on digestion.
- Check in. How are you feeling? What is your body telling you? What do you need to do right now? Tune in to your stress and busyness levels so that you become aware of them and take action to reduce them. Slow down. Everything will get done.