14 ways to look after number one
14 ways to put yourself first, and why you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
PAINT YOUR NAILS - Just a small thing, but some pretty polish goes a long way to making a day just that little bit happier.
JUST BREATHE - Your breath can be a powerful tool, especially when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. So, whether you’re in the car, the shower, or standing at the kitchen bench, spend a few minutes every day doing this: focus, inhale, pause, exhale, repeat.
PRACTICE GRATITUDE - To compare is to despair; if you spend your life coveting someone else’s, the days, weeks, and indeed years will pass you by without a sense of well-being, appreciation or achievement. So be grateful for what you do have and model gratitude to your little ones. It’s an important life lesson and the earlier we get it, the better.
FIND YOUR BLISS - You may find that ‘your thing’ changes after baby, because it’s now too difficult to get to the gym five times a week or commit to that art class that seemed such a nice idea. But seek out whatever ‘it’ is that fuels your soul. Whether it’s sewing, yoga or walking the dog… find your bliss and prioritise it. By marking it on your calendar you will be more likely to meet the commitment, and not let it slide when other things demand your time.
WATER - For your skin, water is the elixir of life. Hydrate and moisturise your skin from the inside out by drinking six to eight glasses a day.
MAD ABOUT MANUKA - Is there anything manuka honey can’t do? From treating burns to combating viruses and even strep throat, its antibacterial properties are remarkable. It’s also wonderful for your skin, helping control acne and eczema, and reducing scars. You can put a spoonful in your morning smoothie, use beauty products containing manuka honey (we’re big fans of the Manuka Doctor range, or you can make your own), and smear some on a graze or burn to speed up the healing process. When buying honey (and products containing honey), look for the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which tells you how strong the antibacterial strength of that particular product is.
Here’s what the UMF grading means:
4-9 Maintenance level with general honey health benefits
10-14 Supports natural healing and bacterial balance
15+ Superior levels of phenols that are highly therapeutic but shouldn't exceed taking 1 tbsp at a time
CREATE A PLAYLIST - Music is great for reducing stress and anxiety, even in childbirth, but it’s also great for pumping up our energy levels. Don’t you find the vacuuming so much easier when Kenny Loggins is belting out Footloose? So, whether you’re on Spotify, iTunes, or you get your music fix some other way, create playlists for different moods and moments.
READ FOR PLEASURE - Whether it’s your favourite mummy-blog, the latest issue of Vogue, or a Booker Prize-winning novel – indulge a few moments every day in the written word. Not for work, not for parenting advice, just for you.
GREEN TEA - A cup of warming green tea could be the closest thing to a magic potion you can get, this side of Disney. A powerful antioxidant, it’s said to lower cholesterol, help prevent cancer and, remarkably, it can also protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Put the kettle on, love!
SUPPLEMENTS - Well-being starts with a balanced diet, but sometimes busy women can benefit from a little more support:
• Iron carries oxygen to the blood so if you’re forever feeling tired, your iron stores may be down. Blood loss during your period depletes your body’s iron stores, so it’s particularly important for women with heavy flows.
• Calcium is essential for strong healthy bones, so ensure you’re a fit and able 80-year-old grandma, by stocking up on dairy, broccoli and kale now.
• Folate drastically reduces the risk of having children with neural tube defects. Ideally you’ll have started to take a folate supplement in the three months before you conceive, but if not, then take it as soon as you find out you’re expecting.
• Vitamin C is famous as a cold fighter, but it’s also great for skin; boosting collagen and moisturising.
• Evening Primrose Oil has been supporting women's hormones for generations, especially during that troublesome 'time of the month'.
SLEEP - Sleep is the foundation of wellness. It helps the body repair each day, with a lack of sleep being linked to numerous health issues, including premature aging and memory loss. Which is all very well for those who don't have a baby waking them up several times a night! But even when children do sleep through, some parents still find themselves wide awake. Natural remedies may help you to 'switch off' and get some solid shut-eye. SleepDrops for Adults, for example, is a blend of herbs, homeopathics and flower essences to support you during times of sleeplessness and anxiety.
SMILE - The physical act of smiling sends a message to the part of your brain that registers happiness and then all sorts of good endorphins get pumped around your body. Just imitating a smile will make you feel happier, even if you’re in a grump. So, turn that frown upside down and show off those pearly whites. Speaking of which, do try to floss more regularly, rather than launch into a furious flossing regime in the last week before your appointment with the dental hygienist (don’t feel too guilty, we all do it).
GOOD FRIENDS - A girl can’t get by without her friends. There are the old ones who remember you circa 1992 and all your fashion faux pas, and the ones who have recently entered your life. Collect them like precious jewels and cherish them, then refer to number 12 and giggle together.
LOOK AFTER THE GIRLS - You simply have to admire the female body for growing breasts, which can have the power to feed and nurture a baby and, if you're lucky enough, provide cleavage! So, let’s take a moment to give our boobs a little love in return. If you’re about to start or are already breastfeeding, there’s not a lot you need to do other than keep your nipples clean. Rinsing your breasts with water while showering is really all that’s needed. The most important thing is not to dry out your skin. However, if your nipples do get dry and cracked, rub a little breast-milk around the area, or try a small amount of lanolin like PureLan, which is perfectly safe for your baby. Brands like Medela also boast a range of nipple shields and cooling pads to help you continue to feed while your sore nipples heal. If you’re still having trouble, you might need help with your latching-on technique, so ask your GP or midwife, or call a lactation consultant.
During pregnancy, and especially during and after breastfeeding, your breasts will change substantially. It’s important to know what your ‘normal’ is. Skinfood, together with New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, developed their moisturising breast cream for this very reason – to encourage women to make checking their breasts a regular part of their routine. The more you’re aware of the look and feel of your breasts, the more likely you are to notice any changes. If you do notice a lump, be sure to have it checked out by your doctor. Reassuringly, most breast lumps, especially in women under 40, are not cancerous. But we all know that early detection is key, so get it checked regardless.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 31 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW