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Miriam’s Story: Motherhood and making myself a priority

“Before Mums Matter I felt like the only mother going through what I was feeling and I felt guilty thinking I couldn’t bond with my baby”

Before I came to Manchester Mind I was struggling to accept the new life I now have, I felt I had no bond with my son, was struggling with low moods, worrying constantly/ not being able to control my worries, lashing out at my baby’s father and my own family, barely managing to have a decent meal, not showering for days and just not feeling any self-confidence or worth. I had gone through a bad breakup during my pregnancy and after giving birth I felt like I had no support at all around me. My health visitor put me in contact with Manchester Mind who run the 6 week course Mums Matter – one zoom call per week for an hour where we discussed many different topics with the course leader.  Before Mums Matter I felt like the only mother going through what I was feeling and I felt guilty thinking I couldn’t bond with my baby, when in reality it was postnatal depression.

Session 1 – Being a good enough mum. This first session really allowed me to realise how much of a good job I am doing. I realised my son is well cared for, brought up with love and always has me by his side even when I feel he doesn’t. It allowed me to focus on my positives in motherhood rather than the things that currently I don’t need to worry about. It allowed me to build my confidence as a mother, which was the first step to loving my new life.

Session 2 – Looking after yourself, your basic needs and self-care. In this session I learnt the important of fully caring for myself as well as my son. The mantra ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, is so important. In order to provide the best for my son, I also need to feel good within myself. I now make sure I shower at least every other day, I prepare weekly meal plans so that I have lunch every day no matter how busy it is and make sure once my son is asleep I rest and allow myself to recharge rather than staying up until who knows what time gaming. We learnt about meditation in this session, which I now try to do at least twice a week or play the audio as I am getting ready to sleep, allowing me to finish my day on a positive note, which helps me start my next day with more energy and will to get up.

“This session is what really brought my self-worth back”

Session 3 – Looking into our negative thinking patterns. This session is what really brought my self-worth back. I struggled with over-thinking and negative thoughts on a daily basis about my new body and the change in lifestyle. This session showed me how my negative thoughts were affecting me. I learnt to replace each negative thought with a positive one.

“I do this daily now and love myself for everything I have and am. I love each and every stretch mark, my floppy belly and new breasts. I can really say there is nothing about myself I hate anymore. For example – ‘I hate my belly but this was my sons first home, I grew an amazing baby in here so I love my body for it. I am proud of my belly for carrying and growing an amazing baby’.”

We received dairies, which I use to write a small part of how my day has been – positive or negative- if negative I write how I overcame it. I then write 10 things I am grateful for in that day with an end note of ‘I AM PROUD OF MYSELF’ which I read out loud.

Session 4 – Nurturing you and building self-belief and self-esteem. In this session we learnt about the 5 ways to wellbeing practices. The ones that jumped out to me mostly were the practice of connecting and giving. When I go through a tough time I find I keep to myself because I am afraid to burden others, however these are the people who love me and I realised they would rather I open up and talk to them. In order to boost my self-esteem I found when I connect/socialise with family and my friends I feel happier within myself. The practice of giving allowed me to help others and know that the act I have done will make them smile or even improve their day slightly, which gave me happiness.

Session 5 – Personal recovery journey. In this session we spoke about a wellbeing action plan which I have written. This allows me on my struggling days to view clearly how I am able to pull myself out of those negative feelings, because when I am struggling my mind does not always think clearly and rather whirlpools me further into those negative thoughts. We also completed two activities – colouring a postcard for art therapy and writing a compassionate letter on the back.

Session 6 – Being kind to yourself and discovering ‘you’ – In this session we were given 10 tips to happiness. The main few tips I took to get physical/ exercise when I can, give myself a treat and take the time to enjoy it and finally to phone a friend and arrange a time to meet up. I struggled to give myself kindness, I found this session very beneficial, allowing myself to realise it’s okay to be kind to me and work on myself without feeling guilty.

I find exercise something that really boosts my confidence but also a great mindful activity. I made the decision to go for a walk everyday with my son and prioritise ourselves and my love for nature/exercise by going to a nearby nature reserve/park to enjoy our time walking.

“I notice each day I feel better within myself because I get those moments of peace walking through the trees/fields and also feel good about exercising and the benefits it has for my health.”

I struggle to open up, however Mums Matter reminded me it is important to do so, and by receiving the tip of contacting friends and meeting up I made it a priority to do so with one of my best friends. Due to the pandemic we couldn’t meet up but we facetime at least once every other week for a full catch up, which allows me to feel supported by her and feel loved/important.

Find out more about our Mums Matter course for new mums in North Manchester.