By Giaan Rooney: Olympian, Life-Space Probiotics Ambassador and mum of two

Dear All New Mums,

Firstly, congratulations and welcome to this new chapter in your life!

I remember bringing my first child, Zander, home from the hospital and thinking, where is the manual?!? There are so many unknowns… are you too hot? Too cold? Is that a rash? Are you breathing normally? That poo is an odd colour… The book says you should be sleeping between feeds, so what am I doing wrong?

The questions were endless and almost immediately I felt incredibly overwhelmed and under-prepared…

“I felt incredibly overwhelmed and under-prepared…”

Before I became a parent I had all these expectations about what I WOULD do and would NEVER do once I gave birth, and whilst I knew it would be hard, I never expected it to be by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. I very quickly learnt that I was in unchartered territo-ry, and it didn’t matter how many books I read, how many tidbits of advice I listened to, how hard I tried… I still felt like I was failing at something that was meant to come so naturally to me.

What got me through this period was the moments of euphoria that come with bringing a new little person into the world; that little hand wrapping around your finger, the first smile, the feeling that comes with being ‘milk drunk’ and the first night you both manage a few consecu-tive hours of sleep! (That particular milestone took a long time for me, Zander just didn’t seem to need sleep.)

As an elite athlete in a previous life, I had placed extraordinary expectations on myself, but the most important lesson for me to learn as a mum has been to lower that bar, keep it simple, and not to compare myself to other mums out there, because just as no two babies are the same, neither are any two mums. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another, so it’s ok to acknowledge that not only is this new chapter not familiar, but that it will take time to bond with your baby and learn their little quirks and needs. The great news is, the more you learn to relax, go with the flow and be present in the moment with your baby, the happier and healthi-er you will both be.

When it comes to my children’s health, something I wish I was told more at the start is how important it is for them to be exposed to a diverse range of bacteria… and not to stress about it too much. The more research I read, the more fascinating I find the microbiome. In the first three years of new life, our microbiome starts to flourish, and when fully formed, a healthy microbiome is more unique than our DNA, which is incredible to think of.

“The most important lesson for me to learn as a mum has been to lower that bar, keep it simple …”

But here’s the thing, our microbiome relies on exposure to diverse bacteria to be healthy, so encourage your kids to be outside, play in the dirt, jump in the puddles, fill their lungs with our clean air and be active every day… it is the pathway to health they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. To broaden their exposure to different bacterial species, I also started my kids on probiotics very early on, Zander from around 6 weeks of age, and Lexi from conception.

In 2020 I’ve spent more time with my kids than ever before, which has come with both pro’s and con’s… I love my kids to the moon and back, but like many parents, this year I’ve had to accept that finding time to recharge my own batteries has been difficult, and I needed to learn that managing my own mental health has to be a priority.

My recommendation? Schedule in a Pilates or Yoga class or block out some time for meditation – and make it non-negotiable. I book my exercise time in like a business meeting, and only move it if it is absolutely essential. It’s certainly not selfish to take time out for yourself, in fact, if you look after yourself you’ll most likely have more resilience to parent- as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

All in all, just know that no matter what, on the good days and the not-so-good days, we are all doing our best – and your kids will love you for it.

You’ve got this Mama!

Love,
Giaan Rooney

To find out more about the microbiome, visit lifespaceprobiotics.com.