Why self-care has been essential as a breadwinning mama

This month’s Mama Story is from Racheal Cook, founder of The Yogipreneur and mama to 3 kiddos!

When it comes to balancing business and motherhood, the woman’s got some serious magic up her sleeve…or as it turns out, a kick-ass self care plan.

And it’s surprisingly simple!

Personally? I’m following her lead and embracing slow! Read on to figure out which strategy resonates with you.

You can sign up for the entire series of Mama Stories here.


 

In 2008, I left my lucrative consulting job and launched my first business. Just six months later… I found out I was pregnant. WITH TWINS.

While my husband was grinning from ear to ear looking at the ultrasound machine, all I could think was “OMG. HOW am I going to do this? How are we going to pay for TWO babies? F*CK!”

Panicked would be an understatement.

We had a little nest egg… but my husband was a public school teacher.

All my business income had been plowed right back into the business.

 

Compounding the stress of a surprise twin pregnancy was the fact that I’m literally allergic to being pregnant.

 

I spent the first 20 weeks being closely monitored with IV hydration thanks to hyperemesis gravidarum.

There were 6 glorious weeks when I felt amazing {finally! that pregnancy glow that wasn’t because I was sweating and throwing up all the time!} followed by bed rest until I delivered my twins at 37 weeks.

In a crazy way – having the uncertainty of a new business plus the complications of a twin pregnancy was a huge blessing in disguise.

 

It forced me to really get honest with my true priorities in life.

And those little babies were my #1 focus.

I wanted to stop traveling for business and be home.

I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible.

And I wanted to really be able to bond with my babies with an extended maternity leave for the first year.

 

Once I had clarity on what I wanted motherhood to look like, I was able to completely redesign my life and business to fit my family.

 

The key to it all?

Extreme self-care.

Self-care has never been my default.

I’ve always been the one who takes care of everyone else.

But when my complicated pregnancy turned into a complicated recovery {including bouts of PPD} – I quickly learned that putting myself first was the only way to be the mother I truly wanted to be.

 

Since the birth of my twins in 2010 and my third baby in 2013, I get approached all the time by working mamapreneurs who are struggling to keep it all together. Here’s my favorite lessons learned::

 

Ask for Support.

When I first had my twins, I attempted to do it ALL myself.

In fact, I didn’t leave my husband alone with them until they were 6 months old!

But I was quietly torturing myself.

As a breastfeeding mama to twins, I think the first 3 months of their life I basically set up camp in the rocker as I was nursing {followed by pumping as my son had trouble latching} nearly 24/7.

Throw in some serious sleep deprivation, lack of showers, and the baby blues – it was a recipe for a mental breakdown.

Finally, I called my husband at work one day crying for him to come home so I could get some sleep in a real bed.

 

I learned (the hard way) that it’s OK to hand over the babies with bottles so I could take basic {shower, eat, sleep} care of myself.

 

I locked myself in my bedroom, slept for 12 hours straight and woke up feeling human again.

When my twins approached a year old, I knew there was no way I could go back to work without getting more support.

At the time, I was still nursing and couldn’t afford a ton of childcare.

I got creative to piece together the 20ish hours a week I needed to get my biz back up and running.

My husband came home to take over in the afternoon so I could work with my clients.

I hired 2 different coaches to get my biz on track as quickly as possible.

When I had my third baby in 2013 – I knew better ahead of time.

 

Support in all areas of life and business is essential for working mamas!

 

I reached out for extra support while I was still pregnant.

I hired a doula, prenatal yoga teacher, and midwife for a successful VBAC.

I asked my mother-in-law to stay with us for a week when the baby was born to help out with the now 3 year old twins.

My twins went from half to full-day preschool.

By that time, I also had an amazing team who was able to keep the day-to-day running in my business so I could take a full 4 months off on maternity leave.

 

Uncomplicate Everything.

The difference between the second pregnancy and the first is so incredible.

First time mama = plans on top of plans.

Second time mama = go with the flow!

I’m a planner by nature (See also overachieving, perfectionist).

But like life, pregnancy and birth didn’t go according to plan for me.

 

In the weeks leading up to the birth of my twins, I felt more and more pressure from my doctor to schedule a C-Section once we hit 37 weeks despite initially agreeing to my natural birth plan.

 

And when the recovery from the C-Section was difficult physically and emotionally, I felt like I had been robbed of the experience I had planned.

With my second pregnancy and birth, everything felt so much more organic.

I had a birth team in place who were all on the same page.

Instead of a crazy optimistic birth plan – we had one goal: Successful VBAC!

It made such a huge difference to not feel the pressure to do everything perfectly and instead be able to truly be present for the birth of my son.

Once those babies were home, it was essential to simplify everything in my life and business so I could not only take care of new babies, but also myself!

 

After complicated pregnancies that included bed-rest, I had to start rebuilding my own strength.

 

Self-care was essential to getting back to feeling like myself again.

I simplified everything in my day to day routine as much as possible.

My goal? Get onside for a daily walk and get a nap.

For the first three months of a new baby, that was all I had on the agenda!

And in my business? Again, I simplified everything and got more support.

This is one of the biggest challenges I see with my first time mamapreneur friends and colleagues – often they come to me with big ideas of launching an entirely new offering either right before or right after baby.

I’ve found that this is a hugely stressful undertaking.

Babies are unpredictable!

The moment you think you’ve found a routine, it all changes.

Give yourself permission to simplify your life and business as you adjust to this new little person!

 

Embrace Slow.

I remember an eye-opening conversation with my doula leading up to the birth of my last baby.

She shared that in most cultures, when women have babies they often take anywhere from a week to a month or more to literally do nothing but snuggle and nurse the baby.

The rest of the family steps in to care for the older children, do the laundry, and prepare the meals.

 

Somewhere in our modern world, we’ve gotten so out of sync with our human nature that we’ve pushed aside this precious time to focus on bouncing back into shape and getting back to work.

 

This is one area that I really struggled with the most.

My ambitious nature had me thinking I had to get back on the ball – especially after so many months of a difficult pregnancy!

But letting go of my ambition {at least temporarily} was one of the best ways I could take care of my children and myself.

 

As I learned to embrace slow, I found a rhythm that worked for my family.

 

When the babies were really little, I spent most of the early days focused on nursing, going for walks, and resting.

The more relaxed pace was such a huge transformation for me personally.

I didn’t feel the urge be the perfect mom.

I just wanted to be the present mom.

Now that my twins are about to enter kindergarten this fall, I’m so grateful for the experience during these early years of mamahood.

It’s not always easy, but thanks to these self-care practices I’m ready more than ever for the next season of my life.


Racheal Cook Self-Care Mama Story

Racheal Cook MBA is a green smoothie enthusiast, restorative yoga advocate, and award winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurs can grow their dream business while living their dream life, right now.

After experiencing debilitating anxiety and burnout in her former life in the traditional corporate world, Racheal walked away from a lucrative consulting career and onto a yoga mat. Months later, she married her passion for yoga and business acumen by launching The Yogipreneur, a boutique consultancy teaching the yoga of business and mindful marketing.

Since launching The Yogipreneur in 2008, she’s built a multiple six-figure business inspiring over 10,000 healing and helping entrepreneurs around the world to create profitable, sustainable businesses they can be proud of… all while navigating the beautiful journey of mamahood with three kidlets under the age of 5.

These days, Racheal is sharing more of her insights on business and lifestyle design at RachealCook.com. Click here to get her free 21 Day Fired Up & Focused Challenge!

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