Mind for Life

MENTAL HEALTH

SELF CARE AND COPING WITH BODY
IMAGE ISSUES FOR NEW MOTHERS
DURING COVID-19

Proven ways to maintain a positive attitude and feel good about
yourself in this challenging time
By Karthika Thomas

Counsellor/ Yoga Instructor, Mind For Life

Motherhood is the most celebrated phase of a woman’s life. Being a mother to a beautiful little child or children comes with lots of benefits, as well as challenges. Pre-natal and post-natal depression is a challenge in itself to overcome for expectant and new mothers. In spite of the already existing hurdles, when you have to go through the difficult struggles during a pandemic such as COVID-19, it is a big ask beyond imagination.

Pregnancy is the most vulnerable stage of a woman’s life. Most new mothers usually experience post-partum blues at some point, although the levels of depression vary depending on self-awareness and self-care. Negative body image and low self-esteem are common factors for stress, anxiety and depression in new mothers during pre-natal or post-natal periods. Some women even have exercise routines and diets already planned ahead of time to apply right after delivering their little one.

Most women find it difficult to cope with the initial sleeplessness and lack of energy, and so they tend to fail in their attempts to stick to their fitness plans and goals. This is where frustration and stress kick in. What women may not realise is, post-natal recovery is a gradual process and the most important way to achieve this is to spend quality time connecting and bonding with your newborn.

In addition to the accompanying stress and depression about your body image post-pregnancy, comes the added frustration of facing a global pandemic situation we currently find ourselves in. The fact that not only are all the organised physical fitness venues and activities affected during COVID-19 for safety reasons, but also social isolation and staying at home for long periods to protect your baby from infection all adds to the paranoia and distress for new mothers.

Here are some key points that will help new mothers feel optimistic about their body image and elevate their self-esteem during these stressful times:


You are a SUPER-HUMAN 

It is important to be kind to yourself since you have just produced another human being. Giving birth is one of the major achievements in your life. You should remind yourself that your body has been through a tremendous amount of change and needs time to recover. Nursing and nurturing your child requires a great deal of energy which is difficult to fathom with all the sleepless nights post-delivery. Adding unnecessary stress about your body image will only help to worsen the situation. Remind yourself that the most important thing right now is bonding with the little angel you are holding in your arms.

Eat healthy and right

It is essential to eat healthy food when you are nursing your child. Mindful and healthy eating will help to produce nutritious milk that is vital for the development and immunity of your little one. Starving yourself to lose that extra baby weight will lead to exhaustion, reduced lactation, and a lack of nutrition for your baby and invariably cause you to burnout. Just remember that the first few weeks after giving birth is about recovery and bonding with your child, not about getting rid of that baby weight by any means necessary. Having a consultation with a nutritionist or dietician can be very beneficial at this stage.

Exercise in moderation

Understanding your body post-delivery goes a long way. You must remember that it took 9 months for your body to nourish your baby within you. You should give your body at least 6 to 9 months to recover from this huge transition. Don’t unwittingly dive into doing strenuous workouts as soon as your body feels slightly pain-free. Like mentioned before, post-partum recovery is a gradual process and you need to be mindful that your body needs time to heal. Taking walks in the park with your baby, while adhering to the COVID-19 safety measures, is a great way to get moving, get some exercise and rejuvenate your mind and body. You should remember that the ‘NO PAIN, NO GAIN’ principle certainly does not apply to post-natal recovery.

Be mindful of what you read and watch in the media


Desiring a pre-pregnancy body right after giving birth to your child is not being irrational or unreasonable. But constantly stressing about it definitely is. The media portrays actresses and models having such perfectly proportionate post-pregnancy bodies right after delivering a child. You should understand that they no doubt have designated staff to work on their diet, exercise and appearance to help them get back into shape quickly. In addition, it is vital to understand that everyone’s body is different and every pregnancy is different.

Self-care is essential

Self-care and rest are crucial components in post-partum recovery. They are even more essential during a pandemic. Staying healthy, adequate rest, following safety measures, taking regular breaks, are all important factors while nurturing and taking care of your newborn. Remember, if you do become unwell, it will limit your ability to take effective care of your new little baby.

By adopting these helpful prevention and self care measures, it will ensure you and your baby’s optimal health and well-being for many years to come. Stay safe and well!

Feel free to reach out to a health professional if you need to know more to cope with stress, anxiety and depression during COVID-19.

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