Makeup artist Heidi Moustafa is mum to 2yo Maddy and is expecting her second child in September. Recently on her channel, Heidi opened up about her experiences with postpartum depression and the mental and physical challenges she faced from the changes to her body and identity that pregnancy, birth and motherhood brought. In light of this, we asked Heidi to share her experience with the memo and what advice she'd give to other parents who might be feeling the same way. Read on for this super insightful and powerful conversation and remember, you are not alone.
After giving birth, what changed for you?
Oh, SO much. Everything really. To put it in the most straightforward way possible, I felt like I had just been born myself – reborn? I just felt like a completely different human being and honestly had no idea who I was, as a person anymore. I was just Maddy’s mum. Not that that’s a bad thing, she is my pride and joy, but I felt like I had no other identity. It’s so hard to articulate all of those big feelings into words, but I was just really lost, and was basically mourning the death of my old self.
How did that make you feel?
Sad. Really, really sad. I had pretty bad PPD as I just couldn’t come to terms with everything. Mix a traumatic 48 hour labour, with taking care of a brand new baby + all the hormones and emotions that come with it all, I was in a really rough place.
Do you think your position as a leader in the beauty industry impacted the way that you felt?
Totally. I have never felt so self-conscious in my life. I was really embarrassed and ashamed of the way I looked, I avoided going to all events or even seeing people out. I think I found it worse being on social media and such a huge part of my job is focused on my appearance, being a makeup artist.
When did you realise you had PPD?
I think I knew straight away, but I denied it for a really long time. I felt really embarrassed about it, thinking that people would look at me wrong or think that I’m a bad mum if they knew I had PPD – which is 100% not the case at all! It’s so normal and so many women go through it, I wish I’d accepted it and gotten help sooner.
What resources did you turn to?
At the beginning, nothing as I was in denial. And I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t really turn to anything until I was out of it – the denial was strong. Once I really started to accept myself and my new being, I slowly changed the way I thought about things and focused on myself, which in turn just changed me completely and turned me into a much happier person. A couple months ago I did start doing some research and looked into the resources I could/should have turned to – PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) and I honestly wish I turned to it back then.
What would you say to parents who might be experiencing PPD now?
I know what you’re feeling right now is tough and so hard to navigate through, but it does get better, I promise. My biggest regret is not asking for help when I needed it, it makes such a difference, so if you need the help reach out, it doesn’t make you less of a parent, it makes you stronger. Don’t be afraid to call one of the hotlines at the back of your green book, just speaking to someone about how you’re feeling – even if they are a stranger, will make you feel so much better. Sometimes you just need to get those emotions out, and it really does lift some weight off your shoulders. But most importantly, and this is a hard one to remember as it doesn’t always feel this way, but do not ever forget, how IMPORTANT and LOVED you are.
What was the best advice you received about adjusting to the new you?
I can’t say I was given much advice about this, but coming out of this on my own I did learn a lot. The BIGGEST thing being, stop thinking about the old you – because that person is gone. You have been through one of the biggest things you will ever go through, so focus on getting to know the new person you are, nurture her, appreciate her, she is a superwoman. A part of accepting the new you, is prioritise yourself. This is SO important as too often you’re giving so much of yourself to everyone around you that you just feel invisible, burnt out and forgotten. You can’t be the best version of you, if you don’t make time for you. Sometimes this is easier said than done, and being a new parent doesn’t make it easier. But even just doing something small for you when your baby is napping, or when you have someone around to help, or even waking up before everyone in your house (which is what I do), whether it be going for a walk, sitting and having a coffee and watching tv, whatever it is you enjoy, just do it! The washing can wait, the cleaning can wait, do something for YOU, that makes YOU happy.
Where does positive body acceptance start?
It starts with coming to terms with what you have gone through, accepting it, acknowledging it. It’s a really hard thing to accept, it took me a really, really long time. But what helped me was really working on my mind set and instead of being hung up on the things that I didn’t like (stretch marks, wrinkly skin etc) and comparing it to how I used to look, I started to appreciate my marks for what they have given me. Once you accept it, you can move on to working on what you can change and improve. Whether that be starting a new workout routine, diet, whatever it may be – start something to make you feel good, because you want to.
What wellbeing practices do you rely on daily for balance and good mental health?
For me staying active and being healthy is everything for my mental health. Waking up early and having a few hours to myself before everyone wakes up sets the mood for the day for me. I wake up at around 5am, workout, have a coffee, get some work done and by 8am Madelyn wakes up and our day has begun. I find having this routine and focusing on myself in the morning has really made me a happier, more relaxed person. I thrive off of routines and finally having one for myself, has been everything and more.
How would you describe the best version of you?
I’m really proud to say I think the person I am today, is the best version of myself I have ever been. I feel strong, confident, positive, and happy. I’m really happy and so accepting of myself, I put my family first but I also prioritise me. It’s so crazy to think I used to dream of feeling this way, it’s been such a hard journey with so many struggles. I really didn’t think I was going to come out the other end of it in one piece, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come both mentally and physically.
Remember to take good care of yourself mentally as well as physically. Discover our collection of beautiful maternity and postpartum products here. Read about other parenting stories like Anna Scullie's here and our blog on body confidence after birth.