The Secret to Creating More Calm and Joy in Motherhood: Podcast Episode #172
Kristin chats with Peg Sadie of the Resilient Mom Academy about self-care, joy in motherhood and so much more. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Hello, hello! This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Peg Sadie today. Peg is a trained psychotherapist and resilience coach. She’s the wife of 19 years and boy mom times two. Peg founded the Resilient Mom Academy to realize her vision and bridge the gap between therapy and thriving for struggling moms. Peg has been featured in over 40 media outlets, including In Style Parents and Women’s Health. Her own experiences with postpartum depression, anxiety, and overwhelm as a new mom ignited her passion to support other women in their motherhood journey. Welcome, Peg!
Peg: Thank you so much, Kristin! I’m super excited to be here with you today.
Kristin: And I am excited about the work that you’re doing in the motherhood space. I feel like self-care is an overused term and not really understood, so I’d love your approach and I think we should start off a bit on, again, creating this joy in early parenting and motherhood and reducing the overwhelm. So what are your thoughts on that?
Peg: Sure! Wow, I have so many. Yes, this self-care – I 100% agree with you, Kristin. Self-care has become this, I feel, fluffy buzzword as of late, and for so many of us moms with so much on our plate as it is, it kind of feels like one more thing to add on our to-do list. Like, oh, great, now I have to practice my self-care. When am I going to fit that in today?
Kristin: Exactly. It tends to be more of like a spa day or meeting up with friends; things that may not fit in that very early parenting lifestyle, or even in budgets, to be honest.
Peg: 100%. I have, actually, a social media post that was very popular, and it’s called, you don’t need a bubble bath. We have this idea that we need self-care as bubble baths and massages and pedicures and manicures. And that is not the reality of self-care because if you’re struggling and coming from a place of true overwhelm and your resilience threshold is reduced as a mom managing all the things, it doesn’t matter how many bubble baths you take. That is not a long-term solution to feel better. It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
Kristin: Yes, exactly. So what are your tips to really feeling confident in early motherhood, and again, not feeling that huge amount of overwhelm? What are your top tips in your resilient mom group as your students are asking you questions? I would love to hear what you’re hearing on a daily basis.
Peg: Yes. So we have a little bit of everything, and my personal experience, as well. The most important thing to remember is your self-care journey and your routine doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s. I feel like we see other people doing these certain things for self-care and think, well, I need to do that. Why am I not doing that? Now I have to fit that in my routine. One of the best pieces of advice I would give to moms that are about to embark into motherhood is to, first off, have – because this is, I think, for me personally, with the birth of my first son – my kids are spaced almost a decade apart, and part of the reason was because I was – I did have such a traumatic experience with postpartum depression and anxiety and chronic overwhelm for years. And it took me a really long time to get to a place emotionally where I felt ready to embark on that journey again. I didn’t even know if I was going to get there. And I didn’t do this with my first – to have a self-care and support system plan in place prior to the baby coming. You think you’re going to be able to just go with the flow and manage and do all the things, but what happens is, our life drastically shifts. Like, for me, I had decided I was going to stay at home with my child, and we all stay home for a short period of time; at least for maternity leave, right? And it is – if you don’t have a support system in place, if you don’t have a self-care plan in place, it can be extremely overwhelming and isolating, and then if you’re like me, or how I was with my first, I wasn’t asking for help. I wasn’t realizing that this wasn’t normal, for me to feel this way. I kept thinking I was very hard on myself. I should be able to do all these things. Why am I feeling this way? Why am I struggling with this? And the second time around, I did little things like – well, I guess this isn’t little, but I was six months pregnant, and I hired a housekeeper. I knew this was one thing that I didn’t want to deal with once my child came. I wanted to reserve my energy, and I didn’t want to have to stress about the house. I didn’t want to have to argue with my husband over who was going to do the dishes.
Kristin: And you’re not supposed to be vacuuming or going up and down stairs anyway, so there’s that healing and bonding and feeding time. So that’s ideal. We talk about that in our Becoming a Mother class, of really prioritizing what’s important to you in the postnatal phase, and a housecleaning service or even some meal delivery service plans or things to make life simpler. Even the thought, for certain personality types, of needing to entertain family members or friends when they come in to see the new baby, and then the house isn’t perfect. So if you have someone to help or a postpartum doula, whatever it might be, to make life easier. If that is one of your stressors, that you want a clean house at all times.
Peg: 100%. You made such a good point there, Kristin, because, I mean, going to visit your friend when they’ve had a baby is not, like, helping. Like, going and holding the baby for a couple of hours is not helpful because exactly like you said, depending on your personality type, like I am, I feel like I have to entertain. I feel like I have to have food ready. I feel like I have to have the house clean. So people popping in that aren’t my mom –
Kristin: Yes. It’s different with family.
Peg: Yes. So make a meal. Put it on the doorstep.
Kristin: Empty the dishwasher; something.
Peg: Exactly. That is so huge. And then for me, the second time around, I also joined a mom group, so I knew that I had other women going through the same thing, that I could get out of the house and be around other moms experiencing the same thing, because I felt so isolated and alone in my struggles the first time around.
Kristin: Yes, and that can intensify postpartum depression and mood disorders if you’re feeling isolated and don’t have a support group. I know with my first, having kids later in life, and my husband went right back to work as soon as I got out of the hospital. So I would wait for him to get home and want to, like, connect and talk and tell him about my day, ask him. And he’s trying to unwind, and so we really had to find our groove with that change because I was so used to my professional career and being busy, and my friends were all working. So really, like you said, finding a mom group or Le Leche League and some in-person meetings. And now that – I mean, the pandemic is still around, but it’s not as isolating as it was early on when mothers didn’t have the option of in-person groups.
Peg: That’s so true. And you touched on it earlier, too, Kristin, about knowing the kind of mom you are going to be. For me, I realized, okay, my energy doesn’t support this lifestyle. I am an introvert. I’m an extroverted introvert, but for the most part, I’m an introvert, and I’m also an HSP, a highly sensitive person, empath, and so many moms come to me and they don’t realize that they’re an empath or highly sensitive, and you feel the energies of others. You can feel touched out, and when your baby cries, it causes pain; like, physically causes discomfort for you. It’s a much more different sensory experience for you as a mom than someone who’s not a highly sensitive empath. And if you’re an introvert, you need that alone time to recharge. That means away from your baby, too.
Kristin: Exactly, because otherwise you feel like your baby always wants to be attached to you, or you’re waiting for that cry after a nap. So yeah, as much as we tell our clients to rest when baby is resting, they don’t always take that advice.
Peg: Oh, my gosh, you know what I had to do, Kristin? I remember with my second one, I realized that this is something I had to do. My husband was home. I would say, “Okay, I’m taking a nap now,” and I would put earplugs in. I knew if I heard my baby make any noise, that was it for me. I’m up. Because also as an empath, you feel deeply connected to your child on this crazy level, that you – it’s hard to relinquish control a lot of times when you are this way. Trusting someone to babysit or even your partner to do things; you feel like even when they’re taking care of your child, you have to monitor and supervise. That’s a hard struggle, as well. Knowing your energy, knowing what you need, and taking the steps to kind of manage that, manage your expectations.
Kristin: So true, Peg. And I mean, really understanding that sometimes when a baby is upset, it’s because they’re getting your wired energy and know that you’re exhausted, and so babies feel whatever the caregiver, but certainly, especially the mother feels. Even as a doula, I want to maintain a very calming energy when I’m with a new baby. Sort of that balance and really understanding that you need to care for yourself in order to better care for your baby, and your baby may be upset because you are.
Peg: 100%. I believe that it’s – I even have content with this title, and it’s titled, “It’s not your kids; it’s you.” Because a lot of moms think, well, I’m so overwhelmed because of all the things I have to do for my child. And I help moms understand that it is cyclic when it gets to this point because your nervous system isn’t regulated; you feel overwhelmed. Just like you said, Kristin, our kids are little energy magnets. That is how they connect with us, especially when they’re newborns, infants, even toddlers. They don’t have that verbal capacity to communicate. It’s a survival mechanism that they have. They even have mirror neurons that mimic our emotions. Not what we’re saying; how we’re feeling by our facial expressions. So it is innate. It is intuitive. And if our energy is off, they’re going to feel that, and they’re going to respond to it, and they may be even more clingy because they’re feeling unsafe in that moment, if you are feeling riled up. So learning how to regulate our own emotions and knowing what we need; intrinsically listening to our body, knowing when we’re anxious, when we’re overwhelmed, and addressing that is so imperative for moms who are struggling.
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Kristin: And when is a point where the mother should identify that everything they’re doing as far as self-care and self-regulation is not working, and when do they – at what point do they need to seek help from a therapist or go to their provider and really share what’s going on?
Peg: That’s such a good question, Kristin. I love this. It’s really – well, first of all, we want to make sure we are doing the things that we can that are in our control, the basics: physical self-care, making sure we are getting sleep, adequate sleep if we can. Well, I call it survival years, 0 to 3, especially if you’re breastfeeding, and it’s very hard to get – you’re not going to get the seven, eight hours of sleep at night. And to respond to that – so when we start to feel hopeless, helpless, when we start to lose interest in things that we typically would enjoy, something that we like to do, and we find ourselves not able to laugh and find joy in things that we would normally do, if we find ourselves pulling away and self-isolating from others, if we find ourselves either sleeping too much or not sleeping at all, if we’re having so much anxiety that it’s interrupting our daily functioning, if we’re waking up every 20 minutes to make sure our child is breathing in the middle of the night, you know, if we’re not able to leave our child alone with our partner, whom we should trust with our child, or our parent. I’m not saying a stranger, but if we’re not able to for even a short period of time out of anxiety. Or if things that are really minute that normally wouldn’t stress us are causing big, overwhelming, stressful situations in our mind, like, oh, my gosh, how am I going to make this decision, then it is time to maybe go to your provider and get a workup. I say to all my moms, get a full panel done. Get your hormones checked, blood level checked, have your iron, your thyroid. It could be something simple to address. As you know, Kristin, our hormones go all out of whack afterwards. I have many moms who go through my program who are either diagnosed with postpartum depression and/or anxiety during the program or prior to it and then come into the program as a supplement. Because that has to be addressed, whether it’s medication or a combination of medication and talk therapy. So that is what I would suggest. If you’re at that point where things – you don’t – you feel hopeless or helpless, and you feel like things are out of your control, then I would just go get checked out. They’ll ask you some questions, and you’ll know if this is something that – for me, I waited way too long, and another thing I would like to share is that most moms don’t realize you can be diagnosed with postpartum depression up to age 5 of your child.
Kristin: Absolutely, yes.
Peg: So it is not just strictly after they’re born. I recently had a mom who was diagnosed, and her kids are all toddlers. So yes, I waited too long, and then it became a chronic condition. So you want to just err on the side of caution, and go see your healthcare provider. And then you can move forward from them.
Kristin: And it’s also not known that partners can develop postpartum depression. Husbands can suffer as well, which can then impact the baby and the marriage.
Peg: So true. And another thing, which is nice to do prior to the baby coming, is have your partner at least – educate your partner and maybe any other support team that’s going to be around you – your mom, mother-in-law – on the signs to look for of postpartum depression. Because I like to say, at least it was for me, it’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle. Even as a therapist myself, it was hard for me to recognize what was happening with me because I couldn’t differentiate what I should be feeling versus thinking, oh, I can get myself out of this. It will just go away. But someone on the outside looking in can be like, okay, this is a sign; this is a sign. We need to go to the doctor and just nudge them and help them take that first step.
Kristin: Yes, and the six week appointment can be much too late, so talk to your pediatrician. Those pediatrician visits are quite frequently, and if there are concerns, they may be able to give you resources. There are plenty of postpartum support groups out there, in addition to, of course, calling your midwife or OB-GYN and letting them know what’s going on, or your primary physician.
Peg: Yes, absolutely.
Kristin: I feel like people just want to wait for that six week visit, and you can get so much help before then.
Peg: That’s true. I feel like the first – the baby blues is very typical, as well, right? The first few weeks. Usually, that will subside. But postpartum depression can onset any time thereafter.
Kristin: Exactly. So, again, sleep, the lack of sleep really just escalates everything. Focusing on sleep, self-care, getting a plan, as you said, set during pregnancy, and expressing your needs to family members and to friends and how they can best support that is so essential. So I love that you brought that up earlier, Peg. I would love to also spend some time on your Resilient Mom Academy, who that’s for ideally, and let our listeners know how they can best engage with all of your different services.
Peg: Thank you so much. Absolutely, yes. So I founded Resilient Mom Academy – I founded the exact program that I wished I’d had as a new overwhelmed mom because I felt like talk therapy had its limitations. And I wanted to create a program that kind of combined coaching and education and community together because I feel like community is the one thing that’s lacking in talk therapy, and it is so healing in itself to be around other moms who are just simply acknowledging that they’re struggling, too, and they’re going through the same thing, because I feel like we see everyone’s highlight reels on Instagram or Facebook, and we compare. Why does everything else have it together and I just don’t? What’s wrong with me? But I’m telling you, I know the moms with the highlight reels, which we all are, and I talk to so many of you, and you would never know from your highlight reel, from looking at that reel, that they are struggling behind the scenes. So I just want women to know that they are not alone. I’ve created that safe space. The first thing we do when we start working together is we do a self-care audit and energy audit to kind of get a snapshot of where you are, because everyone’s journey is going to be different. Everyone’s self-care plan, just like a business plan for success, everyone’s self-care and resilience plan is going to look different. It’s a self-paced program, and there’s also coaching and that community aspect, as well. So it’s my baby, and I’m so proud of it and excited to help moms with this.
Kristin: I love it. So it sounds like it’s not just for new moms. Like, moms of teenagers can certainly benefit from it?
Peg: 100%, yes. Any mom that’s struggling right now, because we not only deal with self-care and resilience building, which most people, when I share this, are surprised. There are six parts to self-care. There are six components. It’s like a wheel, a pie wheel. And then we also touch on conscious parenting. There’s a huge module on conscious parenting because I feel like becoming a more self-aware parent, we tend to repeat these intergenerational patterns, negative patterns, unconsciously from our own parents. So getting in tune with that, deciding what kind of parent we want to be and deciding to connect with our kids on a much deeper level, to have more connected relationships. I feel like there’s a lot of adults that don’t have a deep connection with their parents because parents have tried to control their kids, and it can become more achievement-oriented and superficial accolades. So that’s a really popular module. And then we talk a lot about relationships because our relationship with our partner shifts. The dynamic shifts. There’s a lot of stress and stressors in the marriage or relationships. So there’s a huge module on that, as well. There are bonus modules in there. So yes, it touches on a little bit of everything, and I’m always adding to it.
Kristin: I love it. So you’re all over social. Where else can our listeners and our doula clients find you, Peg?
Peg: Absolutely. You can find me on my website. I love to hang out on Instagram. My handle is @peg.sadie. And I’m also son Facebook @pegsadiecoaching.
Kristin: And a podcast?
Peg: My podcast, the Resilient Mom Podcast. And I would love to share a free resource with your listeners if that’s okay?
Kristin: That would be amazing!
Peg: Okay, fantastic. I have a brand new resource I’m really excited about. I offer retreats a couple times throughout the year, and I’ve taken kind of – it’s called the Calm Mom Method Retreat, and I’ve taken kind of my best tools and tips and infused them in this smaller little micro-course. It’s called the Resilient Mom Starter Kit, and it’s a seven-day video training. It comes straight to your inbox, and it’s filled with tools for moms ready to create a calmer and more intentional life. If you’re a mom who’s struggling with stress, anxiety, or overwhelm right now, you will love this training, and it’s an absolutely free resource. You can find it right here on my website.
Kristin: Fantastic. Is there anything that you would like to add as far as final tips for our listeners?
Peg: Yes. Thank you for asking that question. I just want moms to know that they are not alone in their suffering and their struggles. One thing I wish I’d done earlier on is I wish I would have shared with somebody close to me that I trusted what I was going through, another mom friend. It just takes one mom friend that you can connect. I also want moms to not be so hard on themselves, especially if you’re a perfectionist. Give yourself some grace. Allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s a learning process. As long as you’re correcting along the way; you’re growing, you’re learning. Nobody has all the answers. And above all, I want to tell moms – I just got goosebumps about this, every time I share it – to listen to your instincts and trust your gut in all things related to your child because in retrospect, looking back – I’m speaking for myself. I don’t know if this speaks to you as well, Kristin. Looking back, I feel like there have been situations with my own kids where I wish I’d listened to my gut instinct the first time upfront. I don’t care who it is you’re speaking to; a friend, a parent, doctor, an expert. I don’t care how many initials they have behind their name. You know your child better than anyone else in the world, and you need to trust that instinct. Listen to what your heart is telling you. Get that second opinion, and do what you feel is right for you and your child and your family.
Kristin: 100% agree, Peg. We tell our clients that no one knows their baby the way they do.
Kristin: Fantastic advice. It was wonderful to chat with you. Thank you very much, Peg.
Peg: Absolutely. 100% my pleasure. Thank you so much for doing what you do, Kristin, and your resources. What an amazing gift to moms that you guys provide. So thank you. I’m honored to be on your show.
Kristin: Thank you!
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