Written by Yoppie
03 May 2021
First, what is PMS, and why is it a problem for mums?
How does your period change after pregnancy?
Track symptoms and prepare
Eat healthy foods
Split the workload with your partner
Tailor activities to your cycle
Ask for help
Happy Maternal Mental Health Month! Didn’t know it existed? Don’t worry, it’s something that’s rarely discussed, but SO important. We’re sharing our advice for rushed-off-their-feet mammas who feel they don’t have time for PMS symptoms. Whether you’re a brand new mother, a working mum or have been trying to balance your period symptoms with motherhood for years, here are our tips…
A quick reminder: PMS (or premenstrual syndrome) is what you may experience before your period. Symptoms vary for each individual, but most people will experience some form of PMS symptoms, like swollen or tender boobs, bloating, cramping, headaches, irritability, tiredness, appetite changes, anxiety, depression and more. It’s a real good time!
PMS can be hard to manage whether you have kids or not. The problem with PMS when you do have kids, is that your body wants to curl up and hibernate when you know you have things to do, babies to feed, toddlers to entertain, and so on. Long story short, fluctuating hormones cause PMS, which makes parenting more difficult.
Good question! For some, your menstrual cycle will go back to how it was before you gave birth - no problemo! For others, it could change, sometimes in a negative way. If you’re worried about any negative changes, it’s always best to have your GP check that everything is as it should be. Possible physical changes include stronger cramps, small blood clots in your period blood, a heavier or stop-start flow, painful periods, or irregular cycle lengths. That said, remember you could experience the opposite; lighter flow, less cramping - score!
Your emotional and mental PMS symptoms could potentially be intensified too. Add to this the fact that, if you have young children, you’re less likely to get a full night’s sleep, and expend more daily energy keeping them entertained. Let’s just say although it’s the best job in the world, it can be challenging!
So what can you do about it? Here are our top tips…
Knowing your cycle patterns can be a game-changer if you’re a busy mum. If you haven’t tracked your period so far, start now! By anticipating when you’re likely to experience those annoying physical symptoms and emotional changes, you can be prepared.
The luteal and menstruation phases of your cycle are when you’ll likely feel most irritable, anxious and/or depressed, and looking after small (energetic, loud) humans can be more difficult during this time. Keep a note of what sets you off so you can avoid it, and plan ahead mentally for when you’re going to be at your most vulnerable. If you know you’ll be feeling PMS-y next week, use this week to smash out as many of your to-dos as possible so you can take it easy the week after.
*eye roll* We know, isn’t that the same advice given to cure all ailments? Yes it is. And why? Because it’s effective. True, it’s easier said than done when you’re rushed off your feet running after a rambunctious toddler, but eating a healthy, balanced diet (instead of skipping meals and reaching for salty snacks) is one of the best ways to manage PMS symptoms.
Try eating more complex carbohydrates like whole grains and beans to regulate your insulin levels, as this can curb intense cravings and mood swings. Another tip to help with PMS is to eat little and often. Instead of three big meals a day, try five or six smaller meals to keep blood sugar stable throughout the day and improve symptoms.
If you’re raising a child with a partner… don’t be a hero. Yes, you can probably do everything yourself, but if PMS is on the horizon, talk to your significant other and get some help. Work to create a better balance when it comes to lack of sleep, such as splitting the nighttime feeds where possible, maximising nap time (when the little one naps, you nap!) and limiting caffeine to improve sleep quality.
Recognise when in the month you could benefit from time to yourself to recharge - even just a day or two could turn you back into supermum for the rest of the month. If you are a single parent, reach out to family and friends who could help you ease any stress you are feeling.
Always looking for ways to entertain your little ones? Knowing in advance when you’re bound to feel rubbish can help you plan activities accordingly. Example; on the days when you know you’ll be experiencing PMS, avoid inviting the neighbourhood kids to your house for a playdate with your child (the horror!) and instead, plan a fun, chilled movie day with popcorn and plenty of DVDs to keep them smiling.
Remember you don’t need to do everything yourself and suffer in silence while you navigate the journey of being a parent with intense PMS symptoms. You are not alone in how you feel, so it’s important that - if you’re overwhelmed, anxious or depressed - you speak to a professional who can suggest solutions, a family member who can lighten the load, or a community of other mothers who may be experiencing similar issues. Whether you’re a new mum or a seasoned pro, parenting is already hard without the added pressure of PMS, so never feel you have to keep it to yourself.
You’ll find more info on the Maternal Mental Health Alliance website, and helpful resources on the Mums Matter page on the Mind website.
“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” - Mind
Are you a mum who suffers from intense PMS symptoms? As well as the above resources, remember you can always reach out to the Yoppie team to chat. Join our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, giving you one less thing to worry about organising each month.
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