Maternal Mental Health Matters The Most In Order To Change Our Collective Mental Health

Guest blog post by: Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness

We can also talk until we are blue in the face, but if we do not have practical solutions for dealing with mental health in real time, talk is yes very cheap. Why do I believe maternal mental health is the benchmark for a healthy society? Simple. 90% of the time a mother is the one providing the fundamental nurturance for infant and toddlers in the time their brains are being wired and developed most.

When we neglect mothers we neglect society.

I did my first media piece on mental health and motherhood 15 years ago on than CITY TV. I was actually in the thick of it. I told half truths and was still banging on doors for help. I was working myself to the bone caring for other mothers and barely sleeping and to be frank was a complete mess most of the time ( but a very good actress ). I lived with shame and guilt. Parented poorly. Did not really know how to ask for the right kind of help. This is a cycle in my family passed down and will share more at a later date. I talked and talked about mental health publicly for years and than I really just stopped. I was tired of stating the obvious and preaching to what felt like the wrong people….. mothers.

After Bell Lets Talk along with a very disastrous mile stone in my families mental health this month, I am opening up again, but with the goal to not just talk but offer tangible solutions and shed valuable insight on improving our collective mental health. I will not be sharing all of my thoughts and insight here but on my personal facebook Andrea Fitmom Page and you are welcome to add me or follow me if this interest you.

I also am available for coaching on how to address with practical measurable changes in addressing acute situations with mothers, children and teens and have caregivers, teachers, principles and parents contact me for advocacy often to help create plans that actually help people without depending on the system that is very broken. You must empower your mental health and that of those you love. There is no quick fix. You have to do the work.

Lastly I will leave you with my post from today on Facebook, and invite you to join me:

“So I have decided to attempt to talk about mental health everyday and back it up with meaningful education and actions you can take for yourself and those around you. A huge corporation that gouges Canadians playing on the vulnerabilities of peoples stories when they have a known track record of not dealing with their own employees mental health does not fly. They ploy us to do their marketing for them for a massive tax right off and does not make a real dent in my opinion. Its about changing us. Our responses. It is about social education. It is not about depending on a broken system.

So day 1.

I have debilitating depression and anxiety that I have learned over time to manage most often and continue to heal the underlying issues. Sometimes my mental health effects my ability to show up for my children and my clients. THERE ARE ALWAYS UNDERLYING ISSUES. You cannot talk about MENTAL HEALTH without talking about trauma current and trans-generational. In fact talk really is cheap. It is good to have someone to talk too but to get the tools to manage a panic attack in real time is essential to helping growth and productivity. The very first thing I would suggest is to recognize there is no easy way out. You MUST DO THE WORK. Hard yes if depression is a factor. Double check if you are surrounding yourself with people strong enough to hold you accountable with love. There can be a cycle of poor decision making when we are suffering the most that feeds the cycle. That is a pattern. You need loving people to challenge you to manage your self care properly. Own your patterns with self love and compassion and commitment to doing better each day. This week I am running a self care challenge that I will run again in a couple weeks. Improving your mental health is about developing self awareness. It is about sharpening your tool kit. It is about fighting back when it knocks you down.”

Each moment is a chance,

Andrea  xo

About Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness:

In 1999 I became pregnant with my first child I had very little support and I was not prepared for the immense responsibility and stress that accompanies motherhood.

Mothering did not come naturally to me. Like most of us, my reality was often at odds with the glamorized version perpetuated by North American media. I bought into the idea of ‘Supermom’ thinking that if I worked hard to ‘do it all’, I would indeed become one. I was wrong; I often felt isolated and cut off from my community and, it turns out, I wasn’t alone. The experience of raising three sons and training over 50,000 women has taught me that mothering in seclusion is not a healthy option. Community is the key to improving a sense of balance and strength in mothering.

Over the years, my story and what is now called “Andrea Pages Original FITMOM™” programs have inspired women to prioritize their self-care and encouraged women to work together to build community. These values are echoed in every FITMOM™ original class and city that our programs are offered. We encourage our members to strive for balance in their daily lives and we assist them in reaching their personal health and wellness goals. Our ultimate goal is to create a community in which mothers and families can thrive.

It’s Okay Not to Like Your Postpartum Body

By: Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

Alright mamas, it’s time to talk about it. We face it every day. It’s amazing, it’s magical, it’s maddening, it’s stretched, it’s different, it’s life-giving, it’s wonderful, it’s earned, and it’s frustrating.

That’s right, it’s our postpartum body. Nobody gives birth and then immediately looks like they did pre-pregnancy, so we’re inundated with two types of articles as we’re spending our few free moments scrolling the depths of social media. The first, is that your new body is basically an eyesore and you must diet and workout constantly until it returns to it’s original state.

Yeah, sure. In the words of Ariana Grande, Thank U, next.

The next type of article is that we need to love and cherish every inch of this large, stretched out squishy belly, because, well it gave us our baby. And let’s not forget the “other women would dream of having a postpartum belly, be thankful what you have” posts (Which yes, is true, and I am in no way taking away from that. But that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to not be happy with ours).

Now, I get it. I’ve been a strong advocate for body positivity for years, and yes, you should love your new body. I truly believe we should work on and focus on self-love and self-care every day, but that’s just not always the case, is it?

I love what my body has done for me, and I am eternally grateful. But. That doesn’t mean that I’m thanking my stomach every time I have to lift it over the waist of my pants to pretend they fit.

I am thankful that I was able to carry my beautiful healthy daughter for 9 (or 10?) months, but excuse me if I don’t weep with joy when the sweat pools between my delightful belly rolls.

Thank you belly rolls,  for you are a product of my daughter. Thank you, entire wardrobe that no longer fits, because now I don’t need you anymore, for now I understand why moms wear leggings and sweatpants- and I’m so grateful to be a mom that it’s totally ok. 

I’m sorry, but no. Absolutely fucking not. I can love and be thankful for my daughter while simultaneously missing my old body. I can be grateful for the pregnancy I experienced while mourning a large portion of my self confidence, which seemed to disappear around the same time as my ability to wear backless dresses. (Also, where the heck does a new mom wear a backless dress?)

Would I love to feel nothing but love as I squished my handfuls of belly in the mirror? Sure, who wouldn’t? But let’s be real. It’s hard to feel a lot of love for your new belly when nothing in your wardrobe fits you anymore and your silhouette has much more, shall we say… shape? Alternatively, would I love to be doing yoga and exercising regularly, while maintaining a healthy, calorie reduced diet? Yes, I would. Am I going to? Probably not.  Like my first thought after pushing a watermelon out of my vag and then not sleeping for months is exercising, and not, you know- sleeping. Nope. I’m going to nap. I’m going to eat snacks. And I’m going to enjoy my ice cream after a long-ass day, and I’m going to indulge in that creamy pasta because goddammit I want it and I deserve it.

It’s  lovely thought, to be able to either start exercising right away. Or to just love and cherish this new body that gave you your child. But I don’t think it’s realistic. This shit takes time. It takes energy, and it takes commitment. You know what we’re spending that time, energy and commitment doing? Being a new mom.  And you know what we don’t hear enough? It’s okay not to like your postpartum body. Gasp!

There, I said it. And I’m going to say it again.

IT’S. OKAY. NOT. TO. LIKE. YOUR. POSTPARTUM. BODY.

Not liking how you feel in your new body does not mean you love your child any less. It does not make you any less grateful, and it sure doesn’t mean you feel any less sympathy for women who can’t carry children.

It simply means you’re not this saggy, stretched out belly’s biggest fan right now, and that you also don’t really have the energy or great desire to do anything about it for the moment. That’s life. Own it. Vent to your mom friends about it, and how your belly jiggles in so many new ways that it could take someone’s eye out. And do it, while treating yourself to that ice cream sundae and loving every. Single. Bite.

5 Tips To Help You Find Your Way, On Your Journey into Motherhood

Guest blog post by: Ishtar Gabriel, Child & Family Therapist


Becoming a new parent is one of the most life altering events you will experience and requires a huge amount of learning, surrendering, exploring, growing and discovering. It is like starting a new job without any training or manual. All the other employees have been around forever and seem to think it is their sole purpose in life to tell you how to do your work but none of them are staying after hours to get their project done. Parenting can feel lonely and overwhelming, and yet once you find your way, it can be the most amazing journey ever traveled. So here are our tips to help you find your way as you start your new job:

Let go of expectations
Wow this is a big one! This is one of the most anticipated events of your life. This can be a scary and exciting process. Expectations and plans help us make sense of the unknown—and a new baby is uncharted territory. But when plans don’t go as we expect it is hard to adjust and enjoy the moment for what it is—not what we expected it to be. Just being aware of our expectations is a step in the right direction. I was expecting the baby to sleep longer, I was expecting to breastfeed, I was expecting a girl. Exploring ways to feel safe and supported will help you to stay open to the new possibilities on your parenting journey.

Parenting is a process not a destination
Before baby even arrives most parents have read all the right books, registered their child for mommy and me classes, decorated the room, researched the best diapers, taken lessons on how to push and open the stroller and started making homemade organic baby food. We cannot “parent” until the baby arrives and we really have no idea what is going to be expected of us until we get to meet our baby. You cannot start your job until you arrive at your office or receive your first project. So expertise—-parenting expertise just like work expertise—develops over time. It means you are going to make mistakes and you are not going to do it all—-and definitely not perfectly. Becoming a skilled and confident parent takes practice, time and conscious effort. So meet the baby first and then start your journey together.

Try not to compare
Every child is unique and comes pre-package with their own personality, likes, and mannerisms. You are unique and that means the relationship between you and your child is unique. A healthy and thriving relationship between you and your child requires a deep understanding of yourself and your child and develops as a result of exploring and becoming curious about who you are and who your child is becoming. Comparing your child to those of others forces us to focus on what our child cannot do verses what they can do and we miss the things that make them unique. This is what Brene Brown, author of “The Gifts of Imperfecting Parenting” refers to as scarcity. Scarcity is the idea that we are not enough. The way to combat scarcity is to practice gratitude–appreciating things exactly as they are—trusting everything is exactly as it needs to be. Your child’s self esteem and self-worth will thank you for it. And you will become a more confident, loving and grounded parent.

Have fun
Have fun you say when you are knee deep in puke and poop. One of the best ways to laugh about your new experiences is to call another mom friend that you trust and share your story, keep a journal or video tape the chaos. It might not seem or look funny in the moment but it will become funny days or even weeks later…..okay who are we fooling it might take years to appreciate the humour. The point is to not take yourself too seriously. Children have survived for centuries with much less. According to Judith Warner of Perfect Madness we are the most educated mothers to date and tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be “perfect”. We will never be perfect but we can be enough and exactly what our children need us to be. So remind yourself of this mantra next time things seem totally out of control, progress not perfection.

The love affair evolves
As you get into a routine (however chaotic of a routine this might seem—especially for all you type As) and you get a handle on feeding, sleeping and showering and begin to distinguish day from night you will begin to have time to see, feel, smell, hold, play and laugh with your baby. This is when the love affair begins. So don’t worry if you are just not feeling “the love at first sight”. These things take time. Love evolves and grows. You will fall in love with your baby as time evolves.

Remember motherhood is a journey not a destination. Measure your progress not your perfection. Acknowledge the things you did get done and you did do well—even if it is simply stopping to look at your baby for a few minutes in the business of the day. Motherhood if done with self awareness, self care and deep dedication and love means you will evolve and grow right along side your new bundle of joy.

HAPPY PARENTING
Ishtar


Ishtar Gabriel – MSc, OACCPP – Child and Family Therapist – KIDU.ca – Specializing in potty training and toddler sleep solutions, mother guilt / shame, finding balance, and marital tensions.

You Know You’re A Mom When…

Guest blog post by: Kirsten, Coffee With Chloe’s Mom


There are many telltale signs that I am a mom (e.g. I post way too many photos of my daughter on Instagram), but here are six things that have officially made me a mom of an under-2 year old.

I put random things in the fridge
Since becoming a mom I have put a whole bunch of strange things in the fridge without even realizing it. The other week my husband texted me at work wondering why an empty carton of yoghurt filled with vegetable scraps was in the fridge. A couple of weeks ago it was a pair of scissors.

I sing nursery songs on the street
My husband tells me I sound like Adam Sandler when I sing, but my daughter seems to love my tone-deaf songs. And I’ll do anything in an effort to stop her from having a meltdown on walks.

I do the ‘mom sway’
Even when I’m not holding my daughter, I find myself swaying side-to-side. I’m most likely to be found doing this in grocery store lines.

I eat off my child’s plate
I used to think it was gross, but now I find myself falling into this trap. I’ll eat the scraps off her plate. I’ll even admit here that I also eat half-chewed pieces of food when she hands them to me as part of ‘sharing’.

I randomly talk about nursing
Since returning to work I’ve found myself randomly talking about nursing and how I’m still doing it. Why do I do this? I have no clue.

I no longer have a name
Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that my husband no longer refers to me by name. I just get called mom. I suppose there could be worse things to be called!


 

DSC_0155About Kirsten

Hi, Im Kirsten. A mom. A wife. A daughter. And someone who really loves to travel and hates mayonnaise. I also write a weekly newsletter called Coffee with Chloe’s mom and Instagram way too much.