Hollywood Nanny to the Stars “Nanny Connie” Shares Her Tips on Managing the Stress of Becoming a New Mum
In partnership with Owlet
With the stress COVID-19 has placed on everyone’s lives, it’s now more important than ever to look after your overall health and wellbeing. This September, Women’s Health Week is a great reminder to take time out to check on your physical and mental health. New mums in particular can be vulnerable to increased stress, anxiety and depression so it’s important to know how to manage it in a healthy way.
The truth is, it really doesn’t matter how ‘organised’ you are in the lead up to welcoming your new baby into the world, nothing can really prepare you for the huge physiological and psychosocial changes that occur when you transition to motherhood. Yes, it’s an incredible new chapter in your life, but it can also be an extremely tough time, as you learn to adjust to your new role, your new body and your new baby. Add to that the lack of sleep and hormonal shift that occurs post-partum, and it becomes more important than ever that new mums know how to manage stress during this period of transition.
“The truth is, it’s nine months up and nine months down, and that nine months down is a necessary grace period that allows your emotions to cycle through a roller coaster ride of ups and downs,” explains Connie Simpson, who has been a nanny for more than 30 years to over 250 babies.
Connie, better known as ‘Nanny Connie,’ has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names and their families, including Emily Blunt, John Kransinksi, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. With her focus on guiding new parents through the wonderful journey of parenthood, she is a strong advocate for the need for women to take care of themselves. Here she shares her thoughts on navigating the stress of becoming a new mum.
Allow Yourself a Grace Period
“The expectations of new mums have drastically changed from when I had my daughter 37 years ago. New mums now are expected to “snap back” almost immediately after welcoming their little one into the world…Many new mums experience levels of stress, anxiety and depression or even a combination of all three. That’s why the grace period is so vital. No one can predict how well you will manage your new responsibilities of being a parent, especially as a mum, but here are a few key things to know:
- your hormones are trying to balance out
- your body is enduring a major transition
- life will continue to happen during all of it
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help and Support When You Need it
One of the most common, but potentially harmful things new mums tell themselves is that they need to be able to do it all, and that asking for help means that they are failing in some way. This simply isn’t true. As Nanny Connie explains:
It’s important to own your stress and ask for help, and rely on your village (partner, family, friends, community etc) to support you. If you have a partner on your parenting journey communicate with them and tell them when you need their help. Staying on the same page will go a long way to combating stress. Remember: they aren’t going to do things precisely the way you do, but at least they will get done.
Keep Track of Your Feelings
Life with a new baby can be busy, but it’s important to be mindful of how you are feeling. Nanny Connie suggests journaling as a way to check in on yourself.
Stress that isn’t managed can build up and tip over into anxiety, so preserve your nerves. This is where journaling can come in tgo help you keep track of your feelings. If you find it hard to express to your family and friends how you feel, write it down. Think of it as your own confessional. Writing down your feelings is not only therapeutic, it provides and emotional timeline that can help your partner, family, friends and physician give you the support you need.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Sleep
“A major key to coping with your stress and anxiety levels is SLEEP! If you don’t hear anything else that I say,” explains Nanny Connie, “know that sleep deprivation is REAL, and is not something to be taken lightly. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your emotions, ability to care for your child, milk production and relationships.”
Mould your sleep schedule around your little one’s sleep as much as you can. If you find it hard to rest while your bub rests, check out the Owlet Smart Sock, that tracks your bub’s heart rate and oxygen while they sleep and notifies you of changes to your bub’s well-being. That way you can relax…and know that your bub is being monitored as they sleep. The good thing about newborns is that when they are not eating, they’re sleeping, so take advantage of those stretches of sleep and get as much rest as possible. It’s not a cure-all, but it helps.
Visit Your Doctor if Feelings of Depression Last Longer Than Two Weeks
The hormonal shift that happens post-partum can leave new mums feeling low. So how do we know whether we are just experiencing baby blues or if we are suffering from post-natal depression?
Along with the stress and anxiety that comes after having a bub, feelings of depression are also common. In my experience, most mums realise that feelings of depression after welcoming a bub is situational – often referred to as the baby blues. Once they got into the rhythm of a schedule, got enough sleep, asked for help, and their hormones settled, the depression went away.
However, postpartum depression that last longer than about two weeks is very serious and rarely improves on its own. The mums I’ve worked with who had postpartum depression cried all the time, felt like they couldn’t get a handle on life, took no pleasure in anything, had trouble eating and sleeping, and most tellingly, didn’t want to be around their bubs. That is when your village absolutely has to pull together and get the professional medical support that is needed.
Becoming a new mum is a beautiful life-changing experience, but the ‘snap back’ should not be the focus. The goal is knowing that your self-care grace period is a crucial component of your parenting journey and should be prioritised. Stress, anxiety, and depression are common, but they’re not impossible to overcome. Remember to utilise your village, communicate your needs, SLEEP, and journal. Always try to be present in the moment with your little one because they’ll be graduating before you know it!
This Women’s Health Week is a great opportunity to join tens of thousands of women and girls across Australia. It’s your week to learn more about women’s health and how to make healthy choices and positive changes. Sign up here, it’s free!