Why Self Care As A Mother Is The Most Generous Thing You Can Do For Your Baby

Photography: Nina Strehl

By Suzy McCleary 

Self care as a mother is not selfish, it is vital for your and your baby’s survival.

 “If you enter a room with a mother and a screaming child, you may feed the child but tomorrow the child may be screaming again.  But if you feed the mother, she will now be well enough to look after the child.”

These wise words are the teachings of many ancient cultures including Chinese Medicine. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is taking care of your baby, your family and the wider community. Ignoring this can lead to a lifetime of ill health for both you and your baby.

Following the birth of your baby is a special period known as the “Golden Month”. This is a beautiful tradition of many ancient cultures where mothers are nourished and nurtured by older women for first 40 days of her baby’s life. During this time the mother is considered as delicate as her newborn baby and it is recognized as the most important time for rest, recovery and for many, a complete renewal of their health. The name Golden Month was derived from the fact that any illness that a mother had prior to becoming pregnant could be healed during this time.

Sadly the opposite is often true.

Due to the blood loss and the sheer exhaustion of the birthing process you are more vulnerable, no matter what the delivery method, and that any disease that is contracted during this time can stay with you for a lifetime. The pressure on our mothers today has meant that we often feel inadequate or that we are not coping if we can’t do it all. This has led to high levels of post-natal depression, fatigue and difficulty maintaining breastfeeding successfully.

Our culture rewards and applauds mums who appear to recover and are back to their regular life within a few weeks. “Go girl, you look amazing!” is the cry across social media. However, pounding the pavement to shed the last 5-10 kg so you can fit back into your favourite jeans has enormous negative consequences for both you and your baby. Bonding, comfort, breastfeeding, happiness and health are all strongly impacted. We find that failing to give yourself the opportunity for complete recovery can cause your baby to develop colic and increases your risk of postnatal depression. Those extra kilos that you carry are required to give you the energy to get through sleepless nights and are essential for being able to produce enough quality breast milk. If you go without so does your baby. Those additional calories are essential to support this additional demand on your body.

During the Golden Month, every effort is made to restore your blood, energy and vitality.

Excess stress, emotional disturbances, overwork and fatigue are avoided at all cost and great care is taken to ensure that as a mother you are eating correctly. Mothers are encouraged to eat a diet rich in blood building nutrients focusing on warm, slow, well-cooked foods that are simple and nourishing, such as lamb shanks, osso bucco and vegetable stew. It is essential to increase the amounts of healthy fats in the diet such as flax seed oil, ghee, butter and coconut or olive oil. These fats are the building blocks for hormones and provide essential fatty acids (EFAs) essential for brain health as well as reducing the risk of anxiety and depression. You might have been told it is okay to let the housework go a little.

Well here is the good news why…

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