Is there too much pressure to be a perfect mum?

My young daughters and I were out in the snow, miles from the car. One minute we were having a ball, making a snowman and enjoying each other’s company. The next minute – disaster! My six-year-old trips over and lands in a freezing slushy puddle.

I needed to get her warm and dry. So I did what any other mother would do. I took off some of my own winter layers to provide dry clothes.

Of course I was freezing, but I’m the grown up – it is my job to look after my kids. They come first. They always come first. They have been coming first since the moment they were born.

That’s motherhood. You put your kids first. But what happens when putting yourself LAST comes at the determent of your health?
New research released today shows that nine out of 10 Australian mums sacrifice their health and nutrition because of their kids and the pressure to be a good mum.

The research, which was commissioned by Bellamy’s organic, analysed data from over 1000 Australian mums. They also found that two-thirds (66%) of Australian mums say they feel unfairly judged if they do not lose baby weight quickly enough after giving birth.

Similarly, just over half (53%) of Australian mums say they feel judged about their appearance when they step out in public. And over half (54%) of the respondents said that comments and advice from family and friends affect their feelings the most – whether the comments were well meaning or not.

Susie Burrell is a paediatric nutritionist, dietitian and mum to five-month-old twins. She says that new mums need to start ignoring external pressures and instead prioritise their own health.

“It’s time for mums to put both their kids and themselves first because no one should lose when it comes to parenting,” she says.

Burrell notes that while it is important not to pressure new mums into losing weight the data is clear.

“Good nutrition is important and retaining excessive weight beyond 12 months predicts weight retention long-term. We must look to practical strategies to ensure mums prioritise their health and nutrition – which is essential in the first 12 months of having a baby,” she explains.

Burrell notes that many mothers neglect their health due to the ongoing pressures that face the modern day mum.

So what can new mums start doing differently to prioritise their health?

Burrell says that good nutrition is the key to better health. She offers the following tips:

• Eat breakfast as soon as you get up ensuring you maintain optimum nutrition and energy levels
• Don’t skip lunch in favour of coffee
• Breastfeeding means you will need to increase your overall calorie intake – look to high protein foods like lean meat and fish and calcium rich foods like yoghurt and milk
• Reduce snacking by cutting out kid’s leftovers and second dinners from the diet