Transcript: Ways to Help Moms Improve Their Emotional Health

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Ways to Help Moms Improve Their Emotional Health and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Helen Thompson: Have you ever taken the time to examine your messaging and belief systems? It is an extremely important step for us all to take in our lives, to help us understand ourselves better and what makes us tick. There’s no better time to get started than when you become a mom or are pregnant. After all, the belief systems that you take on board about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, who you are as a person, your ability to cope with various situations, feels like a lot to try and overcome in nine months period.

You won’t want to miss this wealth of information and insights shared by this week’s guest Ria Oliver from the Maternal Wellbeing Foundation. She is an emotional health coach. Rhea is passionate about helping moms thrive rather than survive in motherhood.

You’ll hear Ria talk about ways to enjoy your motherhood journey without anxiety, overwhelm or fear holding you back. You’ll hear Ria talk about understanding and identifying the different types of anxiety that you’re experiencing, understanding your natural thinking style and how it can work against you, how being emotionally in control helps you deal with change positively and confidently and so much more.

Hello Ria and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. It’s a pleasure to have you here today, and I’m looking forward to exploring topics such as anxiety and overwhelm with you. And how are you going today?

Ria Oliver: I’m very well, thank you. I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to speak to you tonight and be able to reach a wider audience and help them on their emotional health journey.

Helen Thompson: So what are some of the things that can help moms overcome their anxiety and their fears? As you say with COVID going on, there’s a lot of anxiety, not just with first-time moms, but with everybody.

Ria Oliver: Yeah for sure. When it comes to things like anxiety and depression and overwhelm and panic attacks. All the different things that really plague women’s emotional health, the way each woman experiences it and the journey that they go on is so different and so unique. So obviously in overcoming it is going to be a very different and very unique journey as well. Underpinning all of that are the same kind of common routes that are creating the way that they feel or feeding into the way that they feel.

So. I think one of the most important things to realize when it comes to things like anxiety or depression. So we’ve got two different types of anxiety that go on. There’s real time anxiety, which is our natural inbuilt protection system. That if something were to happen right now, we’d get that shot of adrenaline, we’d kick into action, we’d go into that fight flight or freeze mode to try and protect ourselves, get ourselves out of the situation. That type of anxiety we need to hold onto because it’s there for a purpose. When mums are dealing with worries, negative thoughts, panic attacks, overwhelm, that’s a different type of anxiety that’s referred to as anticipatory anxiety.

And that is where we are projecting into the future, creating what we believe to be a set of situations and scenarios that we think are going to happen. So for first time moms, it could be worrying about all the what-ifs in terms of birth. What if this happens, what if that happens? You know, all of those kinds of things it’s projecting into the future.

And we seem to be kind of naturally more focused on all of those things that we don’t want to happen as part of our birth experience. So we give those an awful lot of focus, but what we end up doing is creating outcomes that haven’t yet happened, but subconsciously your mind doesn’t know the difference between real and fake events.

So whether it is something that’s happening right now that you need to respond to, or something that’s happening in your mind, it creates the same stress response within your body and kicks you into action. But if what’s going on in our mind is just a projection of what we think is going to happen in birth or what we think might happen in motherhood, or, anything in between, you’re staying in those high states of anxiety for prolonged periods of time, which is now going to start having an impact physically on your body, because it will start to show itself physically. It will have an impact obviously on your emotions and also on things like your immune system. So the hormonal changes within your body, which is something to be really mindful of when it comes to birth preparation, if we’re in these states of fear, your body’s going to have a hormonal response to that which is then more likely to go on and create all of those things that you don’t want to happen as part of your birth experience, cause there’s now tension and fear and the wrong kind of hormones present in your system.

So it’s getting a grasp on that anticipatory anxiety. Obviously there might be things within pregnancy, birth and motherhood that could change, and that might be different than the way that we expected them to be. And it’s good for us to be mindful of those things because you might want to research various things and put certain things into your birth plan about your options.

But when we focus purely on all of those things that we don’t want to happen, but we’re almost already believing are going to happen, then we’re creating these additional levels of anticipatory anxiety. So. When I work with my mum’s through my emotional health program, I take them through seven, I call them the seven steps to self-empowerment that help them understand and overcome their fears and anxieties and also build their confidence and their self-esteem because if those things aren’t in the right place, overcoming those anxieties and fears can be a really, really hard thing to do, if internally you’re not feeling good enough, you’re not feeling worthy, you’ve got that negative internal voice that’s constantly kind of fighting you down all the time.

Helen Thompson: I’ve gone through some of that recently. And I’m just choosing to keep positive thoughts and just try and clear my energy, because I think over the last two years, I’m not saying I’ve got anxiety cause I haven’t, but I’ve picked up a lot of unnecessary fear. So it’s interesting talking to you today because I think it’s a topic that we all need to learn to clear.

Ria Oliver: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think the last two years actually has been a really good example of how we are conditioned to fear things. Everything from the media, from the statements that your government put out and all of those things. There’s been an awful lot of fear mongering to get people to, on mass do the same things for the greater good, but behind it, it’s all fear-based messaging.

And I think that’s really the important parallel to draw actually between that and births and even motherhood is that, that messaging that you grow up with, you don’t recognize that that messaging is there. Which I was always really fortunate to grow up in a household where the messaging about birth was always very positive.

So I didn’t have those anxieties about birth, but if you’ve grown up for, 20, 30, 40 years, and all of your messaging has been very negative, it’s the same thing going on just over a much longer period of time. And you normalize that messaging because you become so used to hearing it. So now you get to a point in your life where you fall pregnant and you’ve got nine months now to battle decades worth of negative messaging, to try and think differently about the way that your birth could be. So the belief systems that you take on board about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, who you are as a person, your ability to cope with various situations, can feel like a lot to try and overcome in a nine month period, potentially. So belief systems is a massive one, looking at what you believe to be true about the journey that you’re on or about yourself as a person and where some of those belief systems are actually a complete distortion of your reality. It’s just, if we’ve got those negative belief systems, you filter every other experience through those.

So if you believe that birth is going to be a negative experience, You’re less likely to be able to prepare positively, or if you go and do your anti-natal courses the way that you take on board, that information is going to be distorted because you’ve got a belief system in the back of your mind saying, well, this sounds great that it can be positive, but for 30 years we’ve believed something completely different, so we’re just going to stay in our comfort zone and focus on that stuff. So belief systems are massive. It’s a huge part of my program and it takes an awful lot of work to kind of really dig down into what those belief systems are. But it’s important to know that we all filter our version of reality through what we believe to be true, which is why two people can be at the same event, the same birth, the same wedding, and experience it in a completely different way because their perceptions and expectations are so entirely different.

So. Yeah, understanding what your belief systems are and just having a look at what you believe to be true is a huge part of that process. And then really closely linked in to that is your natural thinking styles and how that reinforces your belief systems. So there’s around about 12 to 15 thinking styles that we all use, but some of them are more dominant than others, and that will be different from person to person.

And once you’ve got an awareness of what those thinking styles are for you as an individual, you’ve then got more control over when you use those thinking styles or starting to recognize when certain thinking styles are cropping up and having a negative impact on the way that you feel. So for the moms that I work with who have got anxiety and depression and all of those emotional health issues, their main thinking styles are catastrophic thinking. So projecting into the future and imagining the worst case scenario. Fixed thinking because of the years of conditioning, it can be very hard to stop thinking something different. And second guessing, trying to preempt situations, what you think is about to happen and then a bit like how to stop it, reacting to that as though it is already true.

So those thinking styles can work against us massively a lot of the time, particularly on this journey when we’re not aware that they’re going on, but you can start turning them almost into your super power once you are aware of them being there because things like catastrophic thinking can be really useful in certain situations.

But in other situations where we’re now starting to apply it to situations where it doesn’t really belong. It’s about having the control to say, I can see that I’ve slipped into catastrophic thinking here about my birth experience or about my ability as a mother and actually it’s doing me no favors so I’m going to, a bit like it’s on light dimmer switches, I’m just going to dial that one down right now, cause it’s starting to have a negative impact on the way that I feel and start really taking responsibility for the fact that you have control over the way that you think and feel. It doesn’t always feel like it, if you’re dealing with anxiety. It feels like a lot of things happen to you, other people make you feel the way that you feel, but only you can ever control your thoughts, your feelings. Yeah. And that’s a really powerful place to get to I think, when you can recognize that no matter what’s going on around you you’re in control of the emotional reactions that you have, and you can’t control anyone else in that situation, you can’t control the way that your kids feel, you can’t control the way that your partner feels, but you can control the way you feel. Yeah. And I think once you get that and that kind of clicks into place, that’s a massive turning point for a lot of my mum’s who think, oh, actually I always felt this way because of other people or because of situations I’ve been in. And they never stopped to think that I’m in control of this and if I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t have to, it can be a choice.

Life is 10% what happens and 90% of the way you feel about what happens and I think that’s a really important thing, again, particularly in relation to birth. I was talking to a mum just the other day, who is terrified of the fact she’s due to give birth soon. So she’s choosing various options within her birth experience to try and control that fear. But I’ve had moms that have had what would be a textbook, perfect birth experience, and they’ve still come out of it traumatized. Or mums that have had the complete opposite. They’ve had intervention and emergency C-sections, but come out of it feeling really, really positive. And the difference within that is the way that they feel, not necessarily physically what happens within that birth experience or even necessarily the way that baby is born.

Things can change as they often do in birth experiences and that’s okay. When you’re emotionally in control, you can deal with those changes in a much more emotionally balanced way that they don’t negatively impact you post birth.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think what you’re saying, taking responsibility for your own thoughts and your own feelings, I think is so important because as you say, you’ll feel more comfortable within yourself if you know that you can take control. And no matter how much you listen to other people, you’ve just to to say no, I know I’m responsible for my own actions, I’m responsible for my own thoughts. And I choose to let go of anything that’s blocking me in that way. And I think that is so powerful, your mind.

Ria Oliver: Yeah it is. It’s an incredible tool when we know how to use it in the right way. And it can also be an incredibly damaging tool, if we allow it to run away with itself and get us into patterns of thinking or behaviors that don’t serve us and don’t push us forward. I think it’s so important for mums to be able to thrive in motherhood rather than just survive. And I think a lot of moms are in survival mode a lot of the time because they feel low, they feel down, they’ve got that kind of lack of identity, sometimes kicking in, their self-worth has gone. And they just end up in survival mode and then it can feel like everything external is having an influence on the way that you think and feel and you kind of give up a lot of the time thinking this is obviously just the way that I’m going to feel in motherhood and it doesn’t need to be that hard. It doesn’t need to feel that difficult every day. You should still have the confidence and the motivation and the hope to be able to propel you forward, even when you are dealing with difficult challenges. Because life is always going to happen. It’s always going to be going on around us and there’s always going to be bumps in the road. But when you’re feeling better in yourself and you’re taking responsibility for the way that you think and feel, you can deal with those challenges in a much, much easier way.

Helen Thompson: So what are some of the things that you would say to a mom who’s going through what we’ve just discussed. Is there any things that you can advise moms to do to help them.

Ria Oliver: Yeah I would say, try as much as you can when you’re having those difficult days or those big emotions to slow everything down and really start taking notice of what it is you’re thinking and the way that it’s making you feel because I think when you are stuck in anxiety cycles, you feel physically how that anxiety is feeling in your body. So the heart palpitations, the quick breath, the sweaty palms could be insomnia or IBS. That usually for a lot of mums is their first sign of anxiety. But actually before those physical feelings of anxiety hit, you’ve already gone through two stages of an anxiety cycle, which is your emotional trigger and your negative thinking.

And sometimes your negative thinking, it is loud and clear for those mums that they’re drip feeding themselves negative thoughts every day. For other mums that voice is still there, but they’ve dialed the volume right down on it. So they might not be aware of the thoughts that they’re having. So I always get my mum’s just to slow everything down and when we’ve got those big emotions, I think in society in general, we’re taught to suppress a lot of the way that we feel and to not show big emotion and not to be vulnerable. So we get all of these big emotions. I mean, motherhood, a journey that we expected to feel, completely differently and now it actually feels quite hard. A lot of those emotions get suppressed because they don’t want to talk about it through fear of judgment or fear of failure. Yeah. So it all gets just pushed down and you try and overlook it, although you can still feel that it’s there. So for my moms, yeah, I always say to them, just slow it all down, as scary as it might feel to start with, just really start tuning into the thoughts that you’re having, because they will give you a really good indicator to the belief systems that lie underneath those, which are what your emotional triggers are in the first place. So really slow down everything, tune into those thoughts and that’s where you can then start taking responsibility for the way that you’re thinking, when you recognize the thoughts that you’re having and the thinking styles that you’re using.

And then you can start making a choice about how you emotionally react from that point onwards. Whereas when we’re trying to kind of push everything down and ignore it as best we can you’ve got no choice in what goes on from that point onwards, you’re just lost in a negative anxiety cycle for hours, days, weeks, months on end. You don’t know why you’re there, you don’t know how to get out of it, you don’t know how to feel any better, but it’s probably because we’re ignoring an awful lot of what’s going on. So slow it down, supervise your thoughts. I always use the analogy of if a tradesman came to your house to do some work, you supervise that he’s there. Before he leaves you make sure he’s done the job that he’s meant to do, and that you’re happy with it. And we’ve got to take the same approach when it comes to our emotional health and wellbeing and think, well, if we’ve got all of these negative thoughts there, why are they there, what are they telling us and what can we let go of? So you’re really starting to supervise those thoughts and thinking to yourself, right, I’ve been telling myself for weeks months, even, in early motherhood, that I’m not good enough. I’m not doing a good enough job. Why are those thoughts there? And how long are you going to allow them to stay there?

And that’s what helps you start taking that responsibility to think I can recognize the patterns in what I’m thinking, and now I’m going to make a choice as to what thoughts I allow to come in. And what thoughts I now am in control of letting go of. But you have to go through that process of really taking the time to listen to what’s going on, so that you can process them and not be scared of those big feelings or try and ignore them or push them down. Kind of lean into it. Emotional health isn’t about ignoring things or trying to be something different than what you already are. It’s about leaning into the feelings that you’ve got and giving them understanding so that you can learn from them. It’s okay to have bad days and it’s okay still to get stuck in negative cycles if that’s what happens. But when you’re supervising, what’s going on, you’re learning from every single one of those bad days. And that’s what’s going to get you further towards where you ultimately want to get to in terms of the way that you feel.

Helen Thompson: Okay I think it’s just slowing down and trying to find out where they’re coming from is a good starting point as you say. Once you know where they’re coming from, you can then say to yourself, right, I know that you’re there and I understand that that’s where it’s coming from. Now I’ve got to let go of that. If you just keep saying positive thoughts all the time, as you say, you’re just pushing it down. You’re not allowing it to come up to the surface.

Ria Oliver: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly it. I worked with a mum last year who was dealing with postpartum rage and she would throw an awful lot of stuff, a lot of stuff would get broken. And when she came to me, she said, I’m dealing with postpartum rage, but the silliest things set me off and I have no idea why. So we talked through what was going on for her, and there’d been a situation with her husband. She was a new mum, her little one was about six months old and she said her husband came home from work and he just said to her, do you know where my red shirt is? And that was enough to trigger her postpartum rage. And she was like, it was ridiculous, I shouldn’t have reacted that way, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

So when we dug down into what her belief systems were, she had a belief as a new mom that she wasn’t good enough. I’m not good enough at being a wife. Now I’m a mom, I’m not good enough at being a mom, I can’t look after the house in the way that I should, I can’t get the dinner on the table at the time I think my husband needs it. So she had this massive belief system kind of hanging over her like a dark cloud, that she wasn’t good enough.

So something as simple as her husband saying to her, do you know where my red shirt is, for him was a completely innocent question, but for her, with that belief system, the way that she heard it was you haven’t done a good enough job today because I can’t find my shirt. Yeah. So that’s where those triggers, you can think this is, I’ve never emotionally reacted this way before it feels so out of character.

But it’s those belief systems that are triggering it every time. And it’s when you lean into those thoughts that you’re having and slow things down you’ll start to recognize the patterns and then think, well, actually it wasn’t about his red shirt, it was about the way that I interpreted what he was saying, because I’ve got a belief system that I’m not good enough so I assume that’s what he was trying to tell me.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, that’s interesting and it takes somebody like you to be able to support those mums to find that because sometimes they know what it is but being able to actually say it out loud is sometimes quite hard and once you say it out loud, then you go, ah, that’s what it is .

Ria Oliver: Yeah, it’s those massive light bulb moments. It’s connecting the dots, isn’t it and thinking, well, this is how I’m behaving, this is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m feeling, nothing makes any sense. Once you’ve connected those pathways, it can clear so much baggage in one session sometimes, where they’re like, oh my God, it just makes sense.

And when it makes sense, it feels so much easier to overcome it but when it doesn’t make sense, you have no where to start from. And that’s a really difficult thing and I think a lot of moms can put off asking for help because they think, well, how’s anyone going to help me when I have no idea how to explain the way that I’m feeling, but that’s where people like me come in, because I will understand what’s going on behind it all. But when you’re stuck in all of that emotion, it’s very hard to figure that out alone and just having someone that can connect those dots for you, it kind of takes your blinkers off, so that all of a sudden you’re like, oh, I can, I just understand so much more, I can see so much more in my kind of habits and behaviors now.

And then, like I said before, it’s all about giving you the choice over how you emotionally react. When you understand what sits behind it, you have more choice and that’s where you get the emotional balance from. And it’s not just about overcoming whatever’s going on for you right now, but then also having those tools that whatever else may come up in the future, you’re already emotionally equipped to deal with those and to see those patterns forming before they become negative cycles.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. Cause you’ve gotta release negative cycles. You’ve got to know what they are in the first place to be able to release them.

Ria Oliver: Yeah, definitely.

Helen Thompson: And I think a lot of mums, as you say, are learning. It’s a matter of learning how to understand that and how to work with their mind to support their mind. So is there anything else you want to add?

Ria Oliver: The only other two things I’ll touch on is, something called the emotional control spectrum, which is about building their emotional resilience. So if you imagine the control spectrum as a straight line and at one end, you’d be classed as being an externally focused person. And if you’re externally focused, you’re the type of person that believes more in things like fate, luck and chance. You might be the type of person where external situations or people have a large influence over the way that you feel. You’re more likely to suffer from fears, phobias, and worries if you’re externally focused and you’re just generally more likely to feel like you haven’t been dealt a good hand in life, that everything is always a struggle and that things can never feel any differently to the way that they do now.

If you’re at the other end, you’re more internally focused where you’ve got coping skills, you’ve got emotional resilience, you have strong control and influence over what goes on in your life and you can keep perspective and you just kind of have clarity of mind with things. Now, when it comes to pregnancy, birth and motherhood, you might feel like in life, you’re somebody that’s internally focused and you’ve got influence and control then all of a sudden you go on this journey into motherhood and you go all the way down the opposite end of that emotional control spectrum. And you think everything feels completely out of control, completely out of my hands.

And that’s usually because during that journey, like I said earlier, we tend to focus on all of the things we don’t want to happen as part of our birth experience. And all of those things are going to make you feel more anxious and more out of control, the more focus that you give to them. So, knowing where you are on that emotional control spectrum and gaining the skills that if you’re feeling down the external end, where everything’s feels out of control and a bit scary that you can push yourself back up towards that internal end and focusing on the things within that, that you can control. Also I said earlier, birth can be, the kind of textbook birth and be a negative experience, or it can be a really complicated birth and be a positive experience. And the difference will be how you feel within that. So focusing more so in pregnancy or in motherhood with whatever challenges you’re facing on all of the areas that you can control, which is going to come down to your thoughts, your feelings and your emotions.

And I always do a little exercise of my mums, where I get them to write out all of their kind of worries and concerns and get them to fit them into categories of where they have large control and influence, which is where we need to focus all of our attention and efforts, into a category where they feel they have some control and influence and those particular things, we need to appreciate those.

We can give some of our focus to those. And in a category where they feel they have no control and influence, and those are the ones that we need to start letting go of. But that’s usually the area where moms have the longest list, because they’re the things that we focus on. I don’t want an unplanned C-section, I don’t want a difficult motherhood experience.

All comes into the area where we have little to no control or influence over it, in terms of kind of physically what’s going on. But that’s usually the longest list, which is going to, like I said, increase anxiety and increase those feelings of being out of control. So it’s always refocusing yourself, if you are having those worries and doubts or fears and anxieties and thinking is what I’m focusing on, actually within my control?

And if not, I need to start letting go of those things or finding within it what I can control. So births could go differently to how you planned. The way that baby enters the world isn’t always within our control, but the way you emotionally react within that experience is within your control. So it’s just shifting that focus slightly so that we focus more on what we can do with our own bodies and our own minds, rather than anything that has control and influence from external factors. And then lastly, I’d say self-esteem is a massive thing for moms. Particularly first time, you go through a massive maternal identity shift. The process of becoming a mum is a huge psychological change and I don’t think moms are ever really prepared for that. Nobody ever really talks about it. And so all mums, want pregnancy birth and motherhood to kind of look and feel a certain way. It’s meant to be a really exciting time in your life. And then when it ends up feeling overwhelming and scary and confusing, that conflict between expectation and reality can really put you on the back foot.

And when we start taking on those beliefs that maybe we’re not good enough, or we haven’t made the right decisions, then your confidence gets chipped away at every day and your self-esteem gets lower and lower and lower. So I always work on that with my moms first. I build back up their confidence and their self-esteem and their self-worth because when they’re in a good place emotionally, it’s then easier to start supervising your thoughts and noticing your patterns, because you’re already feeling much better about yourself internally.

But you could be pre-pregnancy somebody that was really confident and self-assured, and when that changes, or if that changes as you go on that journey into motherhood, that’s a massive thing to come to terms with. That you just don’t feel like yourself anymore. And I think mum’s struggle in that area for much longer than they should because of that fear of judgment and the fear of failure. So I wish more mums knew going into it, the psychological shift and the identity shift that they go through is a normal part of the process. And within that, you can find calm and balance and confidence and kind of get used to, or embrace the new version of you post-birth cause whichever way your birth experience happened, you come out of birth, a very different person to the person that went into it. I remember when I was expecting my first, I thought I would just be me, but with a baby, the other side of birth, and it was so incredibly different to that.

And I was lucky enough that, I loved being a mom. I thrived in motherhood, but it still took me a long time to get my head round the fact that life would be forever different. And I think that’s where we can let mums down, is that they’re just not prepared for that change. They’re not even given a bit of a heads up that things will be so different.

But it can be so different in a really positive and empowering way. It doesn’t have to be a scary thing. But if they were prepared for that, it will make that transition easier instead of spending months or years full of self-doubt and chipping away at your own confidence through that process. So that’s a really important part of the process, I think is just to know, whatever your struggles are, they’re not a reflection on you or the decisions you’ve made or your worth in any way. It’s just that that transition can be really, really hard and it can also be the most amazing thing you ever go through. But when they feel emotionally prepared for that and better in themselves, it’s a much easier transition to go through.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think those are very empowering things to hear for for a mum because it can be hard to release all that stuff.

Ria Oliver: Yeah. And especially, once you’ve got a newborn in your life, you don’t even really have the time for a long time to even figure out what’s going on because you’ve got a new person that demands all of your time, your energy, your focus, your body, your sleep. So you’re going through all of this, your body’s healing, your body’s changing, you’re sleep deprived, you’re getting used to being a mom. So, feeling not right or not quite yourself, just dealing with that gets pushed further and further down the line because your sole focus now is on this tiny little person that’s just come into your world. And I think that is the beginnings of where mum starts to put themselves at the bottom of the priority list.

And they can stay there for such a long time. And it’s such a shame. You were never bottom of the list before you became a mum and you certainly shouldn’t be, once you become a mom. You’re really top priority. It’s that whole happy mom, happy baby thing isn’t it! Is that mum needs to be thriving and well, in order for that family unit to be thriving and well.

Helen Thompson: Yes, it’s a bit like the scenario when you’re thinking about an aeroplane and people say to you, right, you’ve got to take the oxygen first before you can serve somebody else and it’s the same thing for a mum. You’ve got to be able to learn and be supported to have that calm. So if you need to do anything first, you take the oxygen or whatever it is. And then you’re in a better position to then take care of that baby. But it’s much easier said than done for some moms.

Ria Oliver: Yeah, it is. Cause I know any form of self-care, it feels selfish doesn’t it? Why should I be focusing on me when my baby needs me so much, but they need you to be happy and well more than anything else.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and if you’re happy and well, then they’ll be happy and well. And I think the more you communicate with yourself and communicate with your baby. Babies understand, I think a lot more than we give them credit for.

Ria Oliver: Definitely. Yeah and I spoke to a mum a few weeks ago who was struggling with exactly this, self care, having any time to herself and she said exactly that, it feels selfish. I worry about what if I’m not around and my baby needs me. So I said to her, look at it this way. And I feel this more so since becoming a mum to a girl, is that I said, instead of thinking I’m being selfish or I’m taking away from my baby, is think, you’re role modeling to them that they are important too.

And you’re role modeling to them that your wellbeing is a priority. And I’ve got two boys and my youngest is a girl, and I really feel that since having a girl, I want her to see that as a woman, it’s okay to look after yourself and prioritize yourself and make sure that you’re happy. Otherwise we just raise another generation of women that are at the bottom of the priority list and not feeling good enough. And when you can refocus it that way, you think you wouldn’t want your own child to think I can’t look after myself because I have to give to others all the time. So don’t allow it for yourself either, but yeah, I think if you look at it as a role modeling thing. I’m just showing my kids that it’s okay for me to have time.

They have their space and they do their things and it’s never a consideration when dads go out and do things that they enjoy. Nobody ever bats an eyelid at that do they? And dads, as far as I’m aware, I’m sure there probably are some out there, don’t get all the guilt about, should I be at home, should I be doing this when they’ve just popped out to, like, my husband goes to play golf, there’s none of that doubt surrounding that. But as soon as I do the same, I’m like, oh, but what if they need me? And it’s such a double standard that goes on there that it’s almost not okay for moms to go out and look after themselves, but you’re the most important person in that family unit and it’s so important for you to be in the right place emotionally.

Helen Thompson: I think we’ve covered a fair bit there. Thank you so much Ria for being on the podcast. I’ve actually learnt a lot about the balance of emotions from you too. So thank you for sharing all your pearls of wisdom I’ve really loved talking to you.

Ria Oliver: Yeah, we have. I think that’s probably enough without starting to overwhelm.

Helen Thompson: So do you have a website or social media presence where moms can find out more about your service offerings and get in contact with you?

Ria Oliver: So my website, social media, Facebook and Instagram also both at the Wellbeing Foundation. Excellent, thank you so much. Yeah, I’ve enjoyed that. Thank you for having me. It’s been lovely.

Helen Thompson: Ria shared some great tips and insights and I learnt a lot from her about going within. I’m sure you will see the benefits to both you and your family, when you make the effort to identify your behaviors and where they aren’t serving you. This is a great way to start your healing journey. You’ll find links to Ria’s website, her Facebook page and Instagram in the show notes, which can be accessed at

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