It can often feel like a tidal wave, becoming a mother. You spend months looking forward to your new arrival and getting prepared and then, boom. It happens. And you realise that nothing really could have prepared you. When the dust settles, finding your new sense of self is a journey that all mums must take in their own way.
Trudi Rinaldi is a Bikram Yoga instructor and mum to 10-month-old Mathilda. We caught up with Trudi on her first day back at work to hear her experience of the transition into motherhood and her tips for getting through the challenges that face every new mum...
“The Mummy Brain is real. I’m having to consciously reprogramme my brain to work more efficiently than it has been since having Mathilda. I guess when you have a baby, your priorities instantly change. Your focus is on your baby and you start to notice that you are just not as on top of things that you need to be. Like running the house, general life admin… You can start to feel like a bit of a failure. Even though you know you really shouldn’t feel that way, you kind of do."
- ASKING HUBBY FOR HELP
“One thing that has been a blessing is that my hubby has picked up a lot of the slack without me even asking him to. Things like looking after the dogs for example.
“I don’t know how single mums do it. I have some friends back home who are doing it on their own. But they have their families around them and that makes it easier. Sometimes I get into bed and curl up and I just want my mum.
“I think talking to your partner about what you’re going through is very important. If you can identify what you need him to do in order for you to feel supported, tell him."
2) GETTING ACTIVE
“I was ready to get back to exercise immediately. I let myself get over the birth physically. But during pregnancy, I already couldn’t wait to get back to exercise. Swimming, cycling, running, yoga… Before pregnancy I was swimming most days, doing yoga three times a week for my own practice as well as teaching four or five classes a week, plus doing lots of walking.
“When I was pregnant, I had a long period of feeling sick and, even though I felt like myself, I didn’t want to do anything that intensive. I didn’t want to take any risks.
“But once I had given birth, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. As soon as my body was ready, I got back to all types of exercise. That was when she was seven weeks old.
“I joined the Mama B Fit group classes at Smart Fitness in JLT. They bring nannies in to care for the kids while you are working out, so you can completely focus on yourself for an hour.
“It was pretty amazing. There is nothing like the endorphins from exercise to make you feel good. Also, I met some really lovely ladies. Even if you have had a bad night with your little one and zero sleep, if you push yourself to go, you walk out feeling like a new person."
Read more: The best Prenatal Fitness classes in Dubai
“The Mummy Brain is real”
3) TALKING ABOUT IT
“I've found talking to family and friends also helps – even if they are far away. If I speak to my mum or my sister, I feel better. And talking to other mums… You realise you are all in this little community together and you are all going through the same thing. And suddenly everything feels a little less daunting.
"Ahead of my first day back at work, I have been going through it in my head thinking, ‘Will I still know what to say?’
"But I know I have had breaks before and gone back and that it has always worked out just fine. I have definitely done more preparation for my first class back than I would normally do, and it has taken me a bit longer, but that’s OK."
4) ACCEPTING THE CHANGE
“Of course I am not the same person I was. I am the same Trudi but with the addition now of also being a mother. I think the biggest thing is simply accepting the change that is motherhood. As soon as you can accept the change that comes with the responsibility of keeping another human alive, it becomes easier.
“Overnight everything changes. It’s harder to leave the house, it’s harder to do pretty much anything. If you fight the change, or let it get to you, you just get further and further away from who you really are.
“I had moments where I thought, ‘Why can’t I do this the same as I used to?’ But then I realized that was the opposite of what I teach. As a yoga teacher, I talk about acceptance of today’s state. You have to accept that you are now a mother and that there will be some change. Then you give yourself the chance to find yourself as a mother – you can find and become your mother self."
5) SELF CARE
“Yes your priorities have changed. They have to. But it’s like that saying about putting your own oxygen mask on first… If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t have the tools to help anyone else. So I have to remind myself that self-care is important.
“Getting back to yoga has been important for me. It’s been hard at times, but also Mathilda needs to know that sometimes Mummy needs to do something for herself. ‘Mum guilt’ can be so strong, but partners can help with that. In general, I think fathers needs to understand that mums needs to do stuff for themselves, spend time away from the baby sometimes, and that they need to socialise with other mums and babies regularly… All of these are aspects of self-care in my mind and they are all equally important. For mum and for baby.”