You've finally gotten through nine months of pregnancy and a daunting childbirth ...And now you're wondering if that was the easy part. If you are finding it tricky to balance taking care of a new baby, yourself and your work and family obligations, know that you're not alone. Here are some suggestions to help you deal with new mom fatigue, and better enjoy these precious first moments in your child's life.
We've constantly been told that we need to get 6-8 hours of sleep every day. With newborns though, you may find that sleep schedule needs somet of toggling - Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, but for 3 to 4 hours at a time. Instead of rigorously trying to stick to your pre-motherhood bedtime, which may be ineffectual and needlessly frustrating, consider sleeping when the baby sleeps, even if just for a quick nap. Also, optimise your slumber during these times: Turn off the phone and TV, close the shades, let your family know not to disturb you during your forty winks, and pay off your sleep debts as best as you can.
People might really want to meet your munchkin, but you don't owe anyone a show-and-tell session unless you have the bandwidth for it. Prioritise your own well-being in these few months and put it out there that you need alone-time to rest and heal - it will be better for both you and your tot in the long run.
Childbirth takes a toll on the body, and there are real injuries that new mothers need to heal from. External help - whether a nurse, a confinement nanny recommended by someone you trust, or a friend/relative who has experience with babies - can help take the load off by addressing some of your tyke's needs while you allow your body to restore itself. Additionally or alternatively, consider sharing whatever parental tasks you can: Work with your partner or family member to schedule feedings, diaper changes and other baby duties. For example, if you're bottle feeding, have them take on more nighttime feedings. If you're breastfeeding, ask them to bring the baby to you and to burp the baby after meals. They can also take over the household chores, or if there's really no one to help you, cut yourself some slack and let these things wait till whenever you feel ready.
While rest is important, it's often beneficial to get some exercise starting two weeks after natural delivery, or if you had an assisted/ Caesarean birth, once the doctor checks the healing progress of any incisions and clears you for increased activity. Once that happens, consider going for short, light walks with or without your tot, increasing their duration once you feel stronger. Light activity has been shown to stave off symptoms of post-partum depression and give you more energy and alertness through the day. Of course, listen to your body and cut back if there is pain, discomfort or increased bleeding. Also, you might want to avoid high-impact exercises in the initial weeks after birth, since hormonal changes during pregnancy will continue affecting your joints for awhile.
As many as 56% of new mothers have anemia or low blood-iron levels, that can cause accelerated fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, dizziness and of course, fatigue. Prevent this by consuming a good amount of seafood, red meats, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruit. If you do suspect anemia, consider asking your doctor for a blood test to determine your iron levels, and to get iron supplements if necessary.
Also, while breasfeeding moms can't drink coffee to them awake because they don't want to caffeinate their milk, you can still knock yourself out with natural energy drink alternatives such as coconut water (containing high levels of minerals and potassium to perk you up), or Acai juice (with potassium, protein and fatty acids to give you a boost.) Ingredients like Acai also contain B vitamins, which are essential to helping your body produce energy, and other refreshments that are rich in this nutrient include sunflower seeds, eggs and milk.
Each of us have a limited amount of energy to spend on decision making. A New York Times article says, "Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price."
Motherhood is a seemingly endless collection of decisions that need to be made - not just for yourself like when determining when to restart work, whether to start excercising, who to allow to visit etc, but also for a brand new human who is quite literally incapable of deciding anything for themselves. It's no wonder many moms' brains feel completely fried by the end of the day.
To help yourself conserve energy, designate certain things as 'givens', that you can take for granted as fixed and which thus don't warrant extra consideration. For example, if you're cooking, decide on a one or two-week menu rotation, and never stray from it. Pick two or three favourite outfits and wear them every time you go out. And let go of certain things as beyond your control - if you've delegated dish-washing for example, accept that the occasional greasy plate is just part of your destiny. You have better things to occupy your brain.
While you're busy taking care of your little one, it's easy to forget that you are still a whole person that deserves care yourself, and not just the supporting cast in your kid's story. Put yourself first sometimes - not only because it will be better for your kids in the long run (attend to yourself first before putting the oxygen mask on your child companion, remember?) - but because you dang well earned iit.
And because being a mom entails hard physical labour (carrying a multi-kilogram infant everywhere, contorting yourself to feed or change or bathe them, lugging all the newborn related accoutrements around, scrambling at the slightest whimper etc) we're guessing your body isn't feeling tip top. Our suggestio is to let a pro knead your aches and tensions away.
One massage for mothers we really like is created by expert Japanese therapist Hana, herself a mother of three. The OB Post-natal Massage is specially developed to harness the healing powers of natural essential oils and herbs, and relax your mind and body. It's designed to balance hormones, restore strength to weakened muscles, replenish lost minerals, and just help a mama feel fantastic.
The experience includes a beautifying facial cleansing, as well as a deep, delicious kneading of your back, legs and face, with gentle heat from hot stones for a luxurious, pampering experience where you can surrender yourself to some TLC for a change.
It's specially catered for women post labour or pregnancy, and is especially recommended 6-8 weeks after vaginal births, or 2-3 months after a C-section.
We could go into more detail, but it might be best to let a pleased parent tell you herself about the OB Post Natal Massage experience.
Hi! I'm Agent V, 30, a Hair Colourist and Co-Founder of Mane Made Studio.
While I daresay I'm known for delivering premium hair results, I delivered something else in June 2020 - my first child. The labour was difficult to say the least, but I forgot all of that in the magical moment I held him for the first time. I knew instinctively that he would change my life forever.
And he did. As much as I adore the little monster, I feel as if I've I aged 10 years over the past five months. WIth the endless feeds, the sleepless nights and the hormone overload, I've been ambling around zombie-like, in a state of massive, constant exhaustion.
Not sure if you can tell from my face (because I can).
Nobody quite prepared me for how a tiny being could drain you of all the life-force you used to have. Knowing how close I was to falling flat on the floor, Agent G asked if I'd like to try a treatment at Japanese spa Organics Beauty @ Delfi Orchard. While I didn't know if I wanted to take time away from the tot, what sold me on the idea was when she said the therapist of this spa has three kids of her own. THREE. I figured someone who had put herself through all that would know some ways to help get through the fatigue, body aches and general nervous unsettledness that new moms experience. And so off I went with some excitement (and a lot of exhaustion).
The beauty salon is in Delfi Orchard, a slight distance from the main shopping thoroughfare. While that meant a little walking from the MRT, I appreciated being away from the crush of the crowd - I really didn't feel like dealing with people during my rare afternoon off from my own very demanding little person (my husband was taking him sightseeing at Forum Shopping Mall - thanks so much lao gong).
So Delfi Orchard isn't the most well-preserved of buildings, but the salon itself is lovely, and felt like a retreat or sanctuary.
This was probably partly due to how it was adorned with fresh flowers and suffused with a delightful, gentle herbal scent. This stressed-out mom instantly felt more relaxed from the moment of entry.
My therapist - the abovementioned Hana the mama - came to greet me. Before starting on the treatment, she took me through a consultation to find out about my lifestyle post-labour, so she could customise the ingredients used during the massage. Fantastic!
She asked about my sleep patterns - I mentioned that my current slumber came in the form of broken-up short naps, and she shared that while snatching rest was important and good, this pattern could definitely make me feel veyr tired. Then she asked about my current diet, focusing on whether I was getting enough protein. She also enquired about my workload when it came to caring for my son, and finally asked which parts of my body felt like they were experiencing the most stress. For me, my shoulders were the most tired, followed by my lower back and finally my calves.
After hearing me out, she shared the choice of herbs she was going to use on my spine to replenish nutrients I might sorely lack, the combination of essential oils she was going to apply to my body and face, as well as the function of each of these carefully curated and prepared elixirs chosen to alleviate my particular stresses. Then, she escorted me to the massage room for my treatment.
To ready me for complete relaxation, Hana first spritzed rosewater in the air. It's proven to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, and I felt more settled after inhaling its gentle fragrance.
She then dabbed lavender oil on her fingers and wafted the delicate scent above me, contributing further to an atmosphere of calm and relaxation.
She then gently struck a set of bronze chimes together two or three times, creating a sound bath like Eastern cultures have used for centuries to quiet the mind and signal the start of meditation.
With me fully surrendered to tranquility, she began kneading my muscles.
Hana commenced by smoothing essential oils into my skin, and then using their glossiness to help her execute luxuriously long, un-knotting strokes on my lower back and shoulders.
What distinguished it from other massages I had is how much time she dedicated to my spine, which she mentioned was important for balancing hormones and my body's overall system.
Also, the previously mentioned concoction of oils she had selected for this part of my treatment:
In a base carrier of organic sunflower oil, she blended in geranium oil which has lauded hormone-balancing properties for women, and which exuded a bracingly fresh, outdoorsy smell which recalled standing in a windy crop field. She also mixed in a drop of patchouli oil, which is known to be anti-depressant, pain-relieving, and anti-oxidant (just to name a few of its benefits). Additionally, she included basil oil to enhance my mood, improve digestion, increase alertness, and soothe muscle aches, and wild lavender oil to calm the nervous system and dial up my radiance.
After the back and shoulder massage, she produced a herbal powder and mixed it with hot water into a fragrant, steaming paste.
She explained that it contained organic Sarriette, Melissa, Marjoram herbs, as well as seaweed. Respectively, they were meant to calm and soothe my nervous system, promote relaxation, ease muscle tension and stress while balancing hormone production, and supplement the minerals that I lacked. The poultice gave off a slightly minty, herby smell that seemed all about healing and goodness.
She then applied the warm creamy blend onto my spine, explaining that the essential ingredients within would be absorbed through the thin skin there and distributed via the nervous system to replenish what was lost in my body. She also added that it could help repair spinal damage caused by epidurals.
To allow for thorough absorption, she covered the applied concotion with cling wrap...
And then placed a towel over the whole arrangement to seal in the goodness.
She then prepared hot stones, and arranged them on my back to improve circulation, release toxins and relieve soreness.
She lined the delectably heated stones along my lower spine.
She also placed a single warm stone into each of my hands, and then covered me up with a blanket to keep the heat from dissipating.
She explained that the stones would help to channel the nutrients - currently being absorbed at my spinal area - correctly and thoroughly through my body. And of course, the heat would help me to relax still further.
While waiting for the ingredients to do their thang, I got a luscious leg massage.
Starting with my calves, she kneaded her way up my thights, and then the soles of my feet.
Once the muscles there were properly loosened, she removed the hot stones.
Now, it was time to focus on my shoulders and face. I flipped over to face upwards while she shielded my modesty with the large blanket.
She then elevated my head with a pillow and replaced the hot stones in my palm, before commencing on a thorough shoulder massage. It was achy and heavenly.
It was time to move to the facial part of the treatment. First, Hana carefully removed my eye makeup, and then cleansed my face using white lotion.
Once my face was clean enough to best receive the oils she would be applying, she smoothed on a concoction of frankincense and lavender, mixed into a base carrier oil. Frankincense is often used in skin rejuvenation and has anti-inflammatory properties to calm redness and irritation. It also supports cellular function and promotes feelings of peace - no wonder it's called the king of oils. Lavender, is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-fungal...altogether making for a fantastic beautifying mixture.
The motions of Hana's massage focused on relaxing jaw tension - so many of us carry stress by clenching this area, which can give us headaches, detract from the slenderness of our faces, and damage our teeth.
She then moved on to massage my undereye and cheek area, and my stomach grumbled loudly. Hana explained that there is a nerve connecting this area to the intestines so it's common to hear these sounds when this facial region is stimulated.
Then it was time to soak off the oil with tissues, and give my newly-glowing face a final cleanse.
Hana then gave me an invigorating scalp massage to conclude the session. By this time I had drifted into a dreamy semi-sleep.
Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Hana restored me to the world with a spritz of orange-scented aromatherapy, a gently zesty fragrance that reminded me of lovely mornings.
Roused, I was invited to sit up while Hana cleansed the herbal poultice from my back.
She then wiped my skin down with a warm towel, and left me to get dressed.
Lastly, she escorted me to a touch-up area where I could reapply my makeup if desired, I saw she had brewed a fresh pot of caffeine-free floral tea to reinvigorate me for the rest of the day.
I sat sipping it gratefully for my final precious, tranquil moments of this treatment session.
While I really didn't want the session to end, these 90 minutes had a supercharged amount of rest, relaxation and recovery packed into them, with all my senses taken care of to repair my frazzled nerves and tired body. I was prepped to care for and love my baby more fully, while also feeling more ready to return to work at the salon where I'm constantly on the move and on my feet.
I have no doubt that I will return to Organics Beauty for another session - Once we can coordinate a time to babysit my boy so I can properly bask in the post-massage glow.
Tried post-natal treatments that you love? Share your experience at BU.sg!