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The Importance of Self Care for New Parents

By November 3, 2019 No Comments

By AFEA member Emma Cormack

My son has just turned 1, and looking back over the last year, I sometimes can’t believe how
much my world, my body and my outlook on life has changed. Becoming a parent is a time
of huge transition, perhaps one of the biggest moments of change an individual can
experience in life. Nothing can really prepare you for this, no matter how many antenatal
classes you attend, the impact it will have on you physically and emotionally is profound.
This can be wonderful, however it can also be a very difficult time for both women and men,
as we have to re-evaluate our identities, our relationships and take on the responsibility for
the health and happiness of a new human who depends on us entirely.
Particularly because having a baby is marketed as a time of pure joy, happiness and snuggly
baby cuddles (thank you P&G), it can be difficult to admit that you need help or support.
Social media is so full of parents who seem to be perfect and taking it all in their stride,
meanwhile you are feeling overwhelmed and completely out of balance due to lack of sleep
and anxiety that you have no idea what you are doing. The first few months can just feel like
survival!
One of the central laws of Five Element acupuncture theory is the Law of Mother Child: The
Mother creates the Child – meaning that each element is created by its mother, in a cycle of
energy. As practitioners we often see symptoms indicating an imbalance in the Child
element but when we look more closely we realise that this is because the real cause of the
imbalance comes from the Mother element and when the Mother gets ‘sick’, the child
inevitably suffers. All too often parents are neglecting their own wellbeing in trying to give
their focus and attention to their new baby. However, what nature tells us is that if the
health of the parent suffers, the child will be impacted so it is important that mothers and
fathers take steps to support their health and maintain balance.
I saw my practitioner for regular acupuncture treatment both during pregnancy and after
the birth. It wasn’t easy to make the time to go with a newborn at home, and then there is
that ubiquitous mum guilt telling you not to spend time and money on yourself, but I was
always so glad that I had. The physical recovery from the birth itself can take a long time,
particularly if there has been a lot of intervention or physical and emotional trauma. When
you also add long term sleep deprivation, reliance on caffeine and sugar to make it through
the day it can lead to imbalance causing emotional and physical symptoms. Acupuncture
can support the healing process and recovery from birth and simply offer new mums (and
dads) the chance to focus on themselves if only for the hour of the appointment.
It has been a wonderful year, with more ups and downs that I could have imagined. There
have been times where I have needed to find myself again, re-centre and recover so that I
can be the best parent I can. I was lucky enough to have a close network of friends through
baby classes and antenatal groups, however there have been times when Five Element
acupuncture treatment has been key to keeping me on track. I look back and wonder how I
would have survived the last year without it, and the knowledge that through it I will feel
like myself again.

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