- Please introduce yourself: Name, what do you do & how many children you have.
Hello! My name is Joanna El-Hayek Azar, I’m a Clinical Dietitian and mom of a lovely 2 year old girl, Jamie.
- What is your biggest accomplishment in life?
Of course being a mom would be the first thing that comes to my mind, but more specifically breastfeeding my baby for 22 months. I truly consider that as an accomplishment because when I was pregnant I took the decision to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I used to think that there is nothing more natural, more instinctive than nursing a baby and that women have done this since the beginning of time… But really, it is though, and many times I thought of quitting. As a nutritionist, I’ve learned all the physiological impacts breastfeeding has on the baby and the mom as well. From reducing the risk of allergies and infections in babies, to lowering risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis in moms. However, my motherhood journey taught me that breastfeeding goes beyond all that. It creates a special bond with your baby, an indescribable emotional attachment. Feeding times become moments you wait for, because holding your baby close to you brings nothing but happiness.
- I am a Mum and…
A devoted dietitian! Proper nutrition is essential to healthy living and overall well-being and that is something I like to transmit to my patients.
- Who inspires you and why?
I admire every working mom who’s able to find a work-family balance! I think the key is to totally be at work during working hours and totally “at home” when with your kids. That way, the guilt feeling won’t take over your life and you will find that the moments you share with your child, no matter how little, are precious.
- Given we are all about embracing Motherhood, what advice would you give a first time Mum?
I truly advise every mom-to-be to take prenatal classes in order to be prepared for all the changes that are going to happen. Just like everything in life, you need to prepare for things to succeed.
My friends always ask me how to prevent the “baby blues”, and my answer to them is that you should be prepared to accept the idea that your body, your heart and your mind will all be for your newborn at first, until you get organized and start adjusting to your new life.
And to me, the mother-child bond cannot be created if a Mother doesn’t devote herself at the very beginning. So it is truly crucial that a mom gets ready and prepared for that, before she delivers.
- Tell us something people don’t know about you.
I still can’t get over my birth experience. I had a natural birth without an epidural. I experienced the most painful thing on earth (in my opinion) that I never thought I could endure. It wasn’t by choice. The anesthesiologist at a reputable hospital in Beirut simply didn’t show up when I was in labor.
- What has been your biggest parenting challenge you had to face with so far?
Every time Jamie gets sick or is feeling uncomfortable; my whole world stops. Everyone around me advise me to chill down, “it’s just a cold and it will pass” but I seriously can’t eat, sleep when she is sick. It’s a little exaggerated from my side but that’s just how I feel.
- What is your favourite& least favourite thing about motherhood?
All the cuddles and kisses…The more you give, the more you get! You always hear people around you saying “stop giving her so much attention you will spoil her!” But to me the most beautiful thing about motherhood is the feeling of love and happiness you get whenever you hold, hug and give a kiss to your child. No matter how rough my day is, she brightens it!
The least favorite part is the lack of sleep, or not sleeping as long as you wish to. Even though my husband was extremely supportive from day one, there are times he can’t take over, specifically when I was breastfeeding, so the interrupted sleeps were truly difficult.
- What are your passions in life and hobbies and do you still make time for them now that you are a Mother?
I really am in love with the world of research and nutrition and I try to stay up to date as much as I can. I used to read lots of articles while breastfeeding my daughter.
I also love traveling, and that is something I truly miss; even-though I already flew twice with Jamie, it’s never as easy and relaxing as it used to be.
- Finally, what do you love most about Mums in Beirut?
Every mom needs support during her motherhood journey and Mums in Beirut is really a great platform where she can find good tips. You also get the chance to discover what the real life of a mother is and how to overcome certain difficulties; you can even end up smiling about the sleepless nights 😉 Sharing experiences and real life stories is the best thing ever! Thank you to EVERY MUM IN BEIRUT.