4 secret tips for coping with stress as a new mum
Becoming a mother is a beautiful journey, but the first months can be often challenging.
Your life undergoes a profound shift almost overnight.
You find yourself navigating a sea of emotions, coping with sleepless nights, and tending to a little one who relies on you completely.
This transformation, though demanding, can also be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.
I’ve personally walked this path, when my twins arrived in 2016 marking a very challenging time of my life.
I didn’t feel like a mum, I didn’t enjoy every moment, I cried a lot, and I missed my old life.
Looking back, I now realise I probably had postnatal depression (PND), although back then, I simply felt like I was falling.
These emotions are entirely normal for new mothers, yet they are often kept hidden, leading to stigma and shame among those in similar situations.
But I want you to understand that as a new mother, your body and mind go through immense changes, so everything you feel is perfectly normal, natural, and shared by many others.
I too eventually managed to overcome this difficult phase, and today I am a proud mum of (now three) lovely boys, I feel happier and stronger than ever before!
The question I often get asked is – What helped you to get here?
Although the answer to this question is not simple, there are four fundamental steps that helped me regain my strength, reclaim my identity, and finally enjoy motherhood like I always wanted!
I call it the T.A.L.K. method, and today, I’d like to share it with you too.
Let’s dive straight in!
Talking is the hardest but also the most important step of the journey (hence the name T.A.L.K.).
Talking saved me when I struggled with postnatal depression and I know it saved a lot of other mums (and dads) out there.
When you bottle your feelings up, it makes things much worse. The longer you repress them, the louder they clamour for attention.
Letting it all out lifts a huge weight off your shoulders, and allows you to see many things in a brand new – more positive – perspective.
Ideally, you speak to your GP, counsellor, or coach – but I know that it is easier said than done.
Therefore, I suggest starting to talk to someone you trust and who was in your situation before (ideally a fellow mum). Choosing the right person is crucial.
Many mums are scared of judgement, but I guarantee you – if you choose the right person, they will not judge you. On the contrary, your honesty and openness will help them to share their struggles too!
Remember that by talking about how you feel, you are not only helping yourself – you are also helping others.
A – Ascend
Ascend refers to gradual moving up the emotional scale rather than trying to feel happy, joyful, and confident right away.
When feeling low, on a vibrational level, you simply don’t have access to positive emotions and every effort to try to feel happy only leaves you more frustrated.
It’s like trying to build a puzzle without actually placing the small pieces first. Even though those pieces may seem insignificant, they are the building blocks of the whole picture. If you have just one piece missing, the puzzle remains incomplete.
So please – take it one day at a time.
If you, for instance, struggle with mum guilt – if you manage as ‘little’ as give yourself a few seconds of self-compassion today, that is a huge win!
Celebrate it, and tomorrow, add another piece to the puzzle.
This is the way forward.
Self-love and self-compassion is the most complex step I usually work on with my clients the longest.
Many people underrate the power of love, and often assume they do love themselves. However, when we dig deep, we often find that they are not even close.
You see – it’s easy to appreciate and give compassion to ourselves when we do something we’re proud of. But can we extend that same kindness to ourselves when we make mistakes?
For instance, when we lose our temper or engage in behaviours that trigger guilt or feelings of inadequacy.
Most of us readily offer compassion to others but rarely do the same for ourselves.
If our friend makes a ‘mistake’ and feels bad about it, we automatically comfort them. But do we offer the same level of compassion to ourselves when we falter?
Imagine telling a friend she is a failure. Or that her children deserve a better mum. How would that impact her?
Yet, most mums tell themselves things like this every single day (often without even realising it).
When I was struggling to cope after having our twin boys – and felt guilty about it – my husband told me: ‘You know, Ivanka, you spend twelve hours a day alone with the boys while I am at work. You have no family or friends around to help you. We live in a flat in a house with no lift, so it’s hard for you to even get out. The boys scream and cry almost all the time…. So of course you are feeling like this. How else would you expect to feel?’
This was a huge eye-opener and an invitation for me to give myself more compassion.
Once I stopped beating myself up but instead allowed myself to feel what I felt without any judgement – that is when things started to shift dramatically for the better.
So from now on, please start noticing your self-talk and consciously change the way you speak to yourself. Start giving yourself more understanding and compassion – just like you would to a friend.
It may be challenging initially, but if you persist, many other positive changes will naturally follow.
You’ll start prioritising yourself (without feeling guilty), seeking help, and indulging in activities you love, making the seemingly distant feel within reach.
In moments of struggle, we often identify too closely with our emotions and thoughts.
‘Kick’ symbolises the act of detaching yourself from the issue , essentially ‘kicking’ it out of your energy and thereby depriving it of the ability to control you.
One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by ceasing to suppress or push away your feelings. Instead, welcome them, allowing yourself to genuinely experience them. Remember that the more we resist something, the more it persists.
By sitting with your emotions, observing them without judgement, and letting them flow through you, they lose their power over you, and naturally dissipate.
In conclusion, remember that motherhood is a transformative journey filled with challenges, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for growth.
Let the T.A.L.K. method be your compass to navigate these uncharted waters and emerge stronger than ever before.
You got this!
Dr. Ivana Poku is an award-winning mentor, author of Motherhood – The Unspoken, and motivational speaker helping mums around the world get their life back and be happy (again). YOU GOT THIS, MAMA!