My own pregnancy was sadly a very sad time, the loss of identity was huge, my partner at the time and I had been together a matter of weeks when we discovered I was pregnant and the thought of having a baby on an island where I could not speak the language and I had no family near was daunting. I did my best to hold it together and I worked hard to create a safe supportive space for my baby as I knew how important the early years were but what I did not take into account was how important it is for the mother to look after herself during this transition into motherhood. Now I understand the importance of this I am keen to interview Psychotherapist Jerilee Claydon.
Hi Jerilee, welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love that you have upgraded your life by helping others to maintain good mental health through pregnancy and beyond.
We all start our parenting journey with patterns, beliefs, and anxieties that hold us back, what is the best bit of advice you can offer mum’s to be?
This is a wonderful point you raise regarding our own beliefs and anxieties this is essentially the golden gift of awareness. An awareness of our own needs that can transform our parenting journey.
To know that we all carry ghosts within us enables an opportunity for choice. Is this something I wish to continue or change?
Working with a mummy and her own inner child is where I start with any expectant mama. Unless we have bravely looked at what we liked and more importantly didn’t like in our childhood we will continue to repeat unwanted behaviours, these unconscious behaviours can catch us off guard over and over again.
I encourage couples to share with each other values, family traditions, hopes and fears before baby comes, are family meals eaten at the table? Do we share a room to sleep? Will we vaccinate? Or practice a certain religion. It’s not necessarily getting to the answer of each of these questions but it opens up a dialogue that otherwise might not happen. I’m doing so you provide a space for baby as a family member and bring to life the reality of this new human with needs.
This unity provides a sense of inclusion and enables previous childhood anxieties to be gently explored.
The short answer; I would suggest you always start with you, invest in someone to one work with a therapist to raise your emotional intelligence as high as you can, so when you are feeding at 1am in a quiet house filled with loneliness, you’ll have the skills to regulate yourself and bring your own mind to a place of comfort and calm and recognise why it’s all worth it.
There is so much fear and also public pressure on making our children dependent from us. I Love your comment “You aren’t creating a negative human by being close, you are creating the next generation of superhumans who’ll live with a heart full of kindness” can you explain how keeping your child close can have a positive impact on both parent and child as they grow up?
Ahh this is my passion and I love that you have teased this out, how long do you have ?!
Evolution primed us to stay close to our caregivers to keep us safe, the young baby who learns to bum shuffle around 8 months also becomes stranger aware… bumping into the ankles of a caveman around the fire would have resulted in being picked up and thrown out of the cave, so we’ve learnt from a young age to be cautious from whom we seek care.
Our young brains have learnt from experience for generations – not self taught – the brain is primed to learn from its environment, as adults it’s beneficial to our young to learn that the world is loving, warm, kind and caring, that needs are met.
As a result, we will enter the world curiously, seeking, exploring and confidently take risks. Raising the opportunity to experience success and happiness.
We can not abandon our children and expect them to grow into independent confident adults. Abandonment or punishment will never work.
How can we teach this? through modelling behaviours.
So keeping them close through simple acts of bed sharing and sling wearing are gentle achievable ways to build confidence and resilience within the babies brain.
In addition to the emotional benefits the knock on effects physically are scientifically proven. We’ve seen via touch and closeness the hormones released regulate blood pressure, boost the immune system and strengthen the heart – so the simple act of sharing a bed safely with your new baby can increase her protection from illness.
When a baby experiences physical closeness with the mother, the body fully relaxes into a state of safety. If you want confident successful happy adults. Simply love your baby and keep them close Day and night. Parenting doesn’t stop during darkness.
The short answer; The benefits of staying close to your caregiver are not only good for emotional health but also physical. Life long benefits to be gained.
It is so easy to lose your identity when you are a mum, how do you advise people to maintain their sense of self?
This is such a great question and topic to raise, this area is a hot topic for discussion within Columbia university in Newyork.
Like adolescence, Matrescence describes a woman’s transition into motherhood that is hormonal, physical and emotional.
Just like the teenager, she will never be the same again, there will be a loss in equal measure for new adventure unravelling, just as there is for a child losing that innocence to play with toys; misses her favourite doll yet equally noticing the changes in her body and interest in romantic relationships.
It may well be natural, but that doesn’t make it easy.
The short answer; Be prepared to meet your new self, grieve what has gone and learn to reframe a new you. Which can be richer than you ever knew possible.
What can you suggest to mums to optimise their emotional health?
Diet, exercise and therapy! Wrung out emotions wear your telomeres – telomeres are the little tips at the end of our chromosomes that protect our cells from wear and tear. Poor diet and stress wear them out.
When these little tips wear down we age on the inside and outside. Grey hairs and lines on the outside and inflammatory diseases on the inside.
Either way stress is no good for us. And we know parents today are stressed.
So eat well, go for as many plant based foods as possible and strike up a long standing therapeutic relationship with a therapist, is this extreme? I’m a believer of everyone needing a therapist, there is no other opportunity to talk through your experiences in a non judgemental manner, you’ll be safely challenged and events are diffused. Think of it as a gift to your family not just yourself. You’ll be more open responsive and available emotionally for your children and partner.
Why not just meditate? I’d suggest doing this everyday anyway but as life runs away with us so does our habit of self care.
We slip into old unhelpful behaviours, we fail to take care of ourselves, missing meals, not drinking enough water, missing vitamins, and before we know it we are run down, depleted and feeling awful.
Stay on top of it during the first few years with a therapist if you can. If this isn’t possible
2. Create an alter for you to retreat to
3. Practice daily breathing rituals
4. Practice kindness
5. Eat well
Attend baby groups that make you feel good too such a baby yoga, & baby massage. If you are in the Hertfordshire area I run the Pause baby group for new mums, come along!
You support parents through the adjustments that come when having a baby, can you explain how you do that?
Each couple will have something tailored to them, but essentially I work through 3 phases.
The BUMP THE BOND THE BALANCE
THE BUMP – the mother’s inner child/babies needs
THE BOND – how to achieve and cement this for life
THE BALANCE- The couple, how to protect the relationship and work as a team.
You can follow Jerilee on Instagram www.instagram.com/therapyproject find out more about her services here