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One thing that I definitely wasn't expecting as part of motherhood was my chronic migraines...

When I pictured myself as a mum, I saw this constantly energetic woman who has enough time, energy and head space to give all her time to her kids and family.

Wow...was I wrong!

When I started finding it tough, immediately I came to the conclusion that I’m not good enough. There was no way I could live up to the picture I had in my mind and it made me feel terrible. 

Then my migraines started…and my mum-guilt got worse.

➡ Instead of picking them up from school/nursery and enjoying my evening with them, I was dreading another evening of pain. 

➡ Instead of spending all day playing with my baby, I couldn’t get out of bed. 

➡ Instead of feeding my family nutritious meals, I relied so much on the easy processed foods that I promised myself I wouldn’t.

 It took me a while, but finally when I realised I couldn’t go on living the way I was I had to make a choice. Either surrender to it and be miserable ALL the time OR accept it as part of life and work with it.

 I chose to accept it, which meant 2 years of doctor’s appointments, working on my self-esteem and most of all asking for help!

I know chronic illness is quite common for mums, whether it’s depression, migraines, CFS or fibromyalgia – it’s a lot more common than I thought. Here are a few things you can do to help you manage motherhood and chronic illness:

Embrace it...

I KNOW how tough it is to do this and if I hadn’t been through myself I would be suggesting it. But one of the biggest changes I made was this. Accepting it as part of me rather than something happening to me let me regain a sense of control. This is the first and hardest step you’ll take, but once you do this, it means you’ll see your illness in a whole new light!

Learn about it...

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Most chronic illnesses are hidden, and people can’t see what’s going on, which means that sometimes we feel like we’re going crazy! Reading up on chronic migraines allowed me to understand it, as well as validate my symptoms. This really helped me with dealing with the guilt and it also showed me that I wasn’t alone in this.

Know what triggers you...

We all have certain things that makes whatever condition we have worse and for me it’s stress, lack of sleep and hormones. It took me a good few months to figure this out but once I did it meant I knew what to avoid. Talking to a lot of mums, I’ve found that stress and lack of sleep are really common factors that making us feel worse, whatever condition you have so it’s really important to recognise it.

Create boundaries...

As well as understanding my triggers I also noticed symptoms I had before a full-blown attack. I ALWAYS have nausea, pain in my face and what feels like a nail going through the top of my right eye. I’ve now created boundaries to make sure I look after myself and reduce my stress levels. Also, when I feel a migraine coming on, I do what I need to look after myself.

Teach your partner...

When I first started getting them, my husband had no idea what they were or what to expect. I asked him to come to some of my appointments so he could understand what was going on. Also, I gave him links to articles to read which helped him to really understand what I was going through.

Talk to your children...

I avoided this for so long, because I didn’t want to unnecessarily be affected by them. After doing some work on accepting my condition, I also realised that not only was it my reality, it was also my kids. If I had any other physical disability, I wouldn’t hide it from them, I would try to teach them, so why is it different for an illness we cant see? So, I decided to talk to them openly, and not only did they understand, they were able to empathise with me and look after me when I had an episode.

Self-care...

Our general health is so important when we’re already dealing with a chronic illness, so it’s important your basic needs are met. Are you eating well, are you sleeping enough, are you exercising? Depending on your condition, making small lifestyle changes, either to your diet or routine, can really help manage some of your symptoms, as well as stress.

I work with mums from pregnancy to toddler-hood, so get in touch if you’d like to create a plan and make the steps you need to manage your chronic illness. We can have a chat about how I can help you feel calmer, and more in control.