Anyone who’s picked up a magazine in the past ten years can’t have failed to notice the impossibly healthy-looking celebrity mums photographed mere days after having their babies. Toned, tanned and carrying their (usually sleeping) newborn, it’s an image new mums without celebrity means have struggled with. Modern women are constantly assaulted with an insistent message that suggests if they don’t lose the baby weight, redecorate the house and have a glamorous makeover within two weeks after giving birth, they’re ‘letting themselves go’.
There’s a lot to be said for forgetting about a few extra pounds and the state of the spare room, and just relaxing with your new baby – or taking some time for yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Independent midwife Kim Hughes is fully in favour of new mums taking it easy for the first few weeks. “I always very strongly advise new mothers to spend the first five days in bed or lying on the sofa wearing pyjamas,” she explains. “This gives the message to visitors that she is resting and not making tea, or cooking. In our society, I feel there is such pressure on new mothers to get their figures back, get back to work and maintain a clean house whilst raising a happy baby. I think there is something to be said for old fashioned confinement, when women were encouraged to remain in bed, or in hospital, to recover from childbirth.”
Anyone who’s ever reclined on the sofa with a mug of tea, a few candles dotted around and a comfy throw can identify with Kim’s mantra. New mum Katy Gass is fully in favour of taking it easy, and coming to terms with motherhood in your own environment. “It is really important to take time out for yourself with a new baby, as a baby is so consuming you would go mad if you didn’t!” she says. “I find that a bath is the perfect way to unwind, as you don’t need to be too far from the baby, but you can gain a bit of “me” time. Plus, any products you add make you feel extra pampered. You’re then more refreshed and better able to meet the demands of family life.”
Debbie Bird, the editor of Babyworld, has seen her fair share of new mums struggling to cope with the demands of motherhood and is an advocate of taking life slowly whilst you adjust to a new chapter of your life. “Having a baby is a life-changing event for a first-time mum,” she says. “You will need to make sure that you are as fit and healthy as you can be, both physically and mentally. Giving yourself some time to be you is very important. Making time for yourself will help you keep your relationships strong, and give you time to be able to enjoy your new baby.”
Fellow first-time mum Natalie Abreu, a former flight attendant, is also a devotee of putting the usual responsibilities to one side. “I think it is so important for a new mum to take time out after having a baby,” she says. “It is, without a doubt, the most stressful, scary and wonderful time of your life! Your hormones and emotions are all over the place and it takes a long while for your body to recover, so having some time out to get to know your baby is imperative. One of my friends went back to work after 6 weeks, and she hasn’t bonded with her son too well; he prefers his nanny!”
Emma Sturrock , the eCommerce Manager for East Anglian-based department store Palmers, agrees women should be encouraged to take it easy after giving birth. “We see a lot of new mums seeking luxury homeware, so their time with their newborn is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible,” she says. “We also see a lot of mums that are seeking products that will ensure any time they have to themselves is as calming as they anticipate. Motherhood is a fantastic journey, but can be utterly exhausting; at Palmers, we understand that your home is your hideaway from the world, and it’s amazing the difference a few little luxuries can make.”