Emma Kenny on ITV This Morning show.
I recently joined Phillip and Holly to discuss being lonely after having children. I have also written a blog where I chat about being pregnant and having a baby in general. Some of my tips will help you to overcome some of your issues.
Planning & Preparation
Becoming a mother is perhaps the most life-changing event you will experience. It therefore makes sense to prepare fully for this major transition and the impact it will unavoidably have, and this includes planning your maternity leave.
Before the birth…
First and foremost, keep lines of communication open with your employer throughout the process – this will allow you to maintain a connection to your working life and ease your transition back into work when the time comes.
Before you finish work, make sure you’re up to date with everything and have completed any handovers in plenty of time. This way, you can enjoy your maternity leave and not worry about how you’ve left things at work – and you’ll thank yourself when you do ultimately return!
You want to make the transition as smooth as possible for both you and your employer, so it makes sense to establish what processes will be put in place to facilitate your return to work, and what flexible working hours your employer may be able to offer to accommodate your childcare arrangements. Establishing this beforehand will help to reduce stress and anxiety and allow you to focus on getting the most of your maternity leave.
Importantly, don’t feel pressured to work right up until your due date – get your priorities in order. First and foremost is the welfare of your baby and your emotional wellbeing. You’re going to be very busy when your little bundle of joy arrives, so ensure that you relax as much as possible beforehand. This is crucial given your physical state – heavily pregnant, no doubt tired and run down, you do not want to push yourself too hard.
First few weeks after the birth…
You have experienced both a major life and physical change and you need space to simply get over the childbirth experience. So, make sure that you allow yourself a few days without lots of visitors. Making sure that you have your partner or a ‘buddy’, who will be with you constantly for those first weeks, will allow you to get some much-needed rest and come to terms with your little bundle of joy.
Try to follow your baby’s routine; let yourself sleep when they sleep, as this helps you to catch up on your rest.
Accept that this is a big change and you need time to emotionally come to terms with your new situation. For some women, this can be a really challenging time, so don’t beat yourself up if you fail to enjoy those initial few weeks.
Now that you have adapted to having your baby, it is time to start exploring your new mummy role and the opportunities it presents. New social groups and friendships are abundant during this phase and can see you discovering whole new support networks and baby-friendly activities that make being a new mum feel incredibly connected.
Start thinking about exercise and nutrition so that you feel in control of your body and general wellbeing. There are lots of mother and baby swim and exercise classes, and many gyms have specialist crèches you can use if you have membership.
If you have a partner, it’s really important for them to take on the strain of sleepless nights with you – even if they are working fulltime. Recognising that you have needs is essential in maintaining a healthy relationship without any resentment.
This can be an excellent time to regroup your feelings and gain perspective on how becoming a mum has changed you. Take the opportunity to consider what you really want to do with your life. If the thought of returning to your regular 9-5 job fills you with dread and despair, then consider your options. Now could be the time for a complete change of career, or reducing your working hours!
If you have any passions that you haven’t been able to pursue, then join groups that mirror these interests. This will provide you with a much-needed space where you aren’t just a mummy; it will also remind you of how capable you are, which will in turn boost your confidence.
During these months, make sure that you and your partner make baby-free time for each other. Call on your new mummy mates or close friends and family to help you have a regular date night. This will ensure you and your partner remain connected and have that much-needed intimate space.
If you know that you are entitled to any benefits, such as working tax credits, then start getting these organised and, if you need any help, make an appointment with your local CAB office.
If you feel a bit out of the loop from work, make some lunch dates with colleagues so you can catch up on any changes and general gossip. This will make returning to work a great deal less daunting and help you feel reconnected with your work environment.
6 months onwards…
Knowing that you are going back to work can feel both exciting and very daunting. You have spent a long period of time getting to know yourself as a mother and sharing a special space with your baby. When maternity leave ends, you can often feel a sense of grief and a drop in confidence. This is entirely normal, as you are entering yet another new phase as a working mum and will need time to adapt.
It’s easy to make the mistake of seeing your return to work as something in the far distant future, but it’s amazing how quickly time passes. So, make sure you get in contact with your workplace and work with them to ensure that everything is ready and in place for your return. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your partner, family or friends for help – you’ve no doubt been suffering from a degree of sleep deprivation, and so will need to get your sleeping pattern back to resembling something that is conducive to a working routine.
Sometimes, organising a staged return to work can prove psychologically beneficial for you and your baby, so this could be worth discussing with your employer.
Just remember – maternity leave is a wonderful time. Your baby will change and grow so quickly, and so you should ensure that you…
Savour every minute!