The Myth of Mums Needing to Have it All

March 11, 2018

Rachel Collins is The Mum’s Health Coach and founder of the #MumsEmbrace movement. She believes motherhood can expand our world, if we stop seeking the Utopian ideal of modern mum-dom; reach out for guidance and connect with other mamas for support.

“So many mums feel their world shrink after having a baby, they are exhausted and hormonal, lose their identity and financial independence, hobbies get left behind. It happened to me after my first baby was born,” she says.

Fed up with feeling shattered and “a little bit like I had been flung back into the 1950’s”, Rachel made some big changes to the way she designed her life. She took control of what she was eating and worked to change her perspective on motherhood, threw the ‘shoulds’ out the window and said bye-bye to guilt.

It is now Rachel’s mission to help other mamas break down some of the biggest blockers to living life to the full; low energy levels, low self-esteem and mother guilt.

What inspired your work?

When I became a mum I didn’t bounce back the way I expected to. It wasn’t just the extra weight and the low energy levels that dragged me down. Becoming a mum was tough. I lost my financial independence and I was getting bored, home alone with a baby that didn’t talk back. And I felt guilty for not loving every second of motherhood. I felt emotionally low and physically very weak. I didn’t know where to turn. There were so many books on how to have a healthy pregnancy, and how to look after your baby when it arrived; but there was nothing on how to look after yourself after birth. When I discovered simple nutrition and lifestyle changes that helped me feel better I knew I needed to share these with other Mums.

Why was it so important to you to help other mums?

New mums spend their days exhausted, unhappy and putting everyone else needs above their own. They are on the verge of burnout and maternal mental health is suffering. This is so common now that doctors, midwives, health visitors and most women accept this as a normal part of the experience of motherhood. It shouldn’t be.

There is so much pressure on women to ‘have it all’ – the baby, the career, the figure… and the reality is that being able to have it all is a myth. The feminist in me wants to change things for women and mothers in society.

The mother in me wants the experience for my daughters to be different when (if) they decide to become mothers themselves. Honestly, this is my driving force.

Why does food play such a major role in a new mum’s postnatal recovery?

Food is our fuel. After running a marathon you refuel for recovery. When I had my first baby I felt like I had run three marathons back to back, I was then given a slice of white toast and a cup of tea. Not exactly the fuel I needed to help my body repair after a long labour. I had a plethora of health issues after the birth of my first baby that I managed to avoid after my second. I put that down to everything I had learnt about nutrition and self care.

There is so much pressure on women to ‘have it all’ – the baby, the career, the figure… and the reality is that being able to have it all is a myth.

Pregnancy uses up a lot of our body’s resources. Growing a baby from scratch is hard work! And keeping a baby alive outside your body actually takes even more resources – breastfeeding mums must prioritise their nutrition. Even if a mum doesn’t breastfeed, you need a lot of energy to look after your new baby.

Your food provides the building blocks for healing and repair. It provides you with energy to stay up through the night and still function somewhat the next day. Good food will fuel the immune system so that mums stay strong and able to be the mums hey want to be. The wrong foods, on the other hand, can sap our energy, put added pressure on the immune system and make us feel uncomfortable and bloated. Poor nutrition can compound postnatal issues like haemorrhoids, thyroid problems and more.

Every baby is different and every pregnancy is different. What advice would you give to a mum who is finding it hard to cope?

If you are finding it hard to cope, know that you are not alone! A lot of mums feel like they are hanging by a thread, but often don’t want to admit they are struggling.

Pregnancy uses up a lot of our body’s resources. Growing a baby from scratch is hard work!

The MumsEmbrace Philosophy is based on four guiding principles, two of these principles come to mind for mums who are finding it hard to cope. The first is that self care isn’t selfish. Putting you and your needs first, whatever they are, is absolutely key. The third guiding principle is it takes a village. You don’t have to do this alone and there is no shame in asking for help. Build your village or tribe of support to help you raise your child. I set up The Village #MumsEmbrace Facebook Group to provide a space for mums online who embrace this philosophy. All mums are free to join here.

Why do you think we mums neglect ourselves so much after we give birth?

Oh where should I start!? So many reasons. From societal pressures to hormonal changes and the inbuilt survival mechanism of the human race. Let’s be honest, a baby’s cry is designed to be impossible for a mother to ignore, that’s what has ensured our survival as a species. I think the main thing is that we have a very demanding little person (or people) who rely on us for everything. The sheer weight of that responsibility shifts our focus from ourselves, to them.

Why is it a time when it’s actually more crucial to look after ourselves?

It’s time for some straight talking here. The most important person in your baby’s life, is you. You wouldn’t put them in a car seat that had seen better days and hadn’t been maintained properly so why put them in the care of a mother who isn’t being looked after?

The most important person in your baby’s life, is you.

How do you support mums and babies with the work that you do?

Through Mum’s Health Coaching I teach my proven three-step process to reclaiming your mind and body after birth: The CSI Formula. Cleanse. Soothe. Invigorate. Mum’s Health Coaching is carefully designed to help your body gently release the build up of stress hormones in your body, identify the foods that are the best fuel for your unique body, remove all the external and internal triggers of the stress response and invigorate your mind and body. For mums who aren’t ready for VIP coaching The Happy Mummy Cleanse is a DIY program that covers the Cleanse step of the CSI Formula in detail. I also offer tailored advice regarding supplements and herbs to support mums physically and emotionally at a time when spending hours in the kitchen isn’t an option.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I believe that motherhood can expand our world. To find out more about the Mums Embrace philosophy for thriving as a mum and embracing all that life has to offer visit my website.

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