I’m making it my mission to bring more awareness around the transformative postpartum time.
I must admit, as a doula and childbirth educator, I’ve been guilty of placing a lot of importance on birth preparation. Indeed, there is a strong correlation between a woman’s experience of birth and her transition to parenthood. However, a good birth doesn’t necessarily mean a good postpartum, and vice versa. I now encourage all pregnant women to take time to consider what their ideal postnatal time could look like, and to start building their support network before their baby is due to get help during postpartum.
In traditional cultures, there are customs around the care and support of newborn mothers. It seems to be ingrained as a society and there is an incredible importance placed on recovery and healing during the first forty days.
I feel a shift is coming in modern societies too. Slowly but surely, people are awakening to the importance of postpartum care. We are evolving in the way we support new families.
One such way is to focus on learning to ask for help during postpartum and knowing how to help.
A really eye-opening exercise is to explore any blocks you may have about asking for help.
For example, you may be afraid to ask for help because:
- You have fear of rejection (they may say no)
- You may fear being a burden (putting someone out or feeling that they have better things to do)
- You may fear losing control (what if they don’t do it the way you want them to)
- You may fear seeming weak or needy (you might feel you ‘should’ be able to do it yourself)
Many people feel they didn’t get the help they needed during postpartum but on further prompting it becomes clear that they didn’t really ask for help either.
We are shifting the paradigm of what it looks like to support families in their postpartum and this does take time.
Some tips for asking for help during postpartum:
- Know that most people actually love to help and it can be a really rewarding experience
- Get clear around what you might like help with and be specific about your needs
- Discuss what role your friends and family may have in helping you
- Give a time frame around when you might like help and for how long
- Be brave and ask directly if they can help you
Here is a list of things you will need help with during the first six weeks after birth: Shopping, cleaning, cooking, child minding and laundry. You will probably think of other things depending on your situation. For example; do you have other children that will need to be picked up from school? Do you have pets that need feeding? Do you need help with your business?
There are many benefits of receiving help during your postpartum time. It will give you the time and space to recover fully from growing and birthing a human. Resting as much as possible and being nourished with warming foods will make a significant difference to your healing. In fact, there is a saying in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic philosophy ’40 days for 40 years’. This highlights the importance of getting help during the first forty days as it will effect your life for the next forty years. It really is that important.
Getting help during postpartum with household chores means you will have more time to bond with your baby and really get breastfeeding off to a good start. This is a learned skill that takes time and patience and nourishing support.
Let’s all work together to bring more reverence to the first forty days so we can help families have the most peaceful postpartum possible. Because, it really does take a village to raise a child.