Being a mum is the most important job in the world. They’re the anchor of most families and often need to juggle their careers and social lives with raising children and running a household. Because they’re often spending their time caring for others, it’s common for mothers to neglect their own health.

In order to be the best mother you can be, though, you need to look after yourself. Thankfully, Australia has a big emphasis on preventative health, which means there’s a lot of support out there from doctors to government services that can help you take control of your wellbeing.

Here are five things you can start with today.

Tips for time-poor mums who can’t get to the doctor

Nourish your body

Your body has been through an incredibly taxing experience, so be sure to fuel it with nutrient-rich meals. Hearty soups filled with vegetables and lentils, casseroles, pies and pasta dishes are all great options.

Aim for every meal to contain wholegrains, protein, vegetables and healthy fats. To save on time, batch cook your meals and buy ingredients in bulk so that your freezer is always stocked with healthy, ready-to-go foods.

Meal-delivery services can also be a godsend for weeknight dinners, and bulk snacks like homemade muesli bars and bliss balls are great for when you’re on-the-go. It’s also important to hydrate, especially after birth or if you’re breastfeeding, so buy a 2L water bottle and aim to finish it by the day’s end.

Look after your mental health

Mums with young children often feel exhausted and overwhelmed while juggling their many different roles, but take a moment to meditate or practise some deep breathing at any opportunity.

This could be while you’re waiting in the car at school pick-up, while you’re breastfeeding or instead of scrolling through Instagram. Squeezing in time for self-care can do wonders for your mental health. Take a few minutes each day to do something you enjoy, learn a new hobby or join a social group.

If you’ve noticed you’ve been feeling more down than usual, speak to your GP about a mental health plan.

Don’t ignore health screenings

My biggest piece of advice would be to seek the services of a doctor, whether that be face-to-face or via a Telehealth doctor, and ask them for their opinion regarding opportunistic health screenings.

This may include blood tests, such as cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid and iron checks, or referrals for imaging, such as mammograms. These are often repeated every six to 12 months. Take the opportunity to voice your concerns to someone else as it is invaluable, and the results of these tests often guide further investigation.

A lot of advancements have been made in recent years and busy mums, who have been putting off essential screenings such as cervical screening, can now do so in the comfort of their own homes. We all know regular breast examination is important, so make regular checks in the shower part of your routine, too.

Take up the services on offer

Look for ways to check on your health during everyday activities. For example, a trip to the pharmacy could be an opportunity to get your blood pressure checked or have your flu vaccine administered.

Not everybody owns a BP monitor, but pharmacies often offer a BP screening service. Your baby will receive a six-week check-up after birth, but mothers should also receive a six-week postpartum check-up, so be sure to book yours in.

This can help assess how your body is recovering after pregnancy and birth and provides you with an opportunity to discuss your mental wellbeing.

Move your body

Between looking after a new baby, daycare or school drop-offs, work and your social life, exercise can often fall off your to-do list, but it’s worth putting it back on.

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of many chronic and lifestyle diseases and can also improve your overall mood. Pilates is a great way to recover after birth and keep your muscles lean and strong, but if you can’t make it to a gym or studio, try online classes like the ones from Flow Athletic TV or take advantage of incidental exercise, such as chasing your kids, walking to the park or throwing a dance party in your living room.

About Dr Sonja Coetzee

Dr Coetzee is the resident female and children’s medical expert for InstantScripts. She has worked extensively in the emergency ward of children’s hospitals and in women’s wards and has spent the past 10 years working in general practice and raising five children.

Dr Coetzee has trained as a breast physician encompassing the full spectrum of breast disorders and screening and has done additional emergency medical training to facilitate rural and remote hospital and community service.

By Dr Sonja Coetzee, Telehealth Doctor for InstantScripts