I am excited to be a part of the postpartum revolution. I am an advocate for postnatal education and I encourage you to take time to plan your postpartum as much as possible. Learn what you will need help with and what remedies can ease your transition to motherhood because your needs are just as important as your baby’s.
Postpartum can be an incredible time for healing and rejuvenation. Many cultures believe that the first forty days after birth effects a woman for the next forty years of her life and a lot of reverence should be given to the mother and her needs.
The modern village
The saying that it takes a village to raise a child resonates so deeply with me. Hundreds of years ago, we would have had the help of other mothers, aunties and grandmothers. The intensive demands of parenting used to be shared by many adults. Today, with nuclear families living separately, the raising of children usually falls on one or two people. This responsibility can feel exhausting and overwhelming.
We need to raise awareness around the actual needs of new parents. Visits from friends and family need to move beyond ‘seeing the baby’ and instead shift focus to nourishing the new mother and actually being helpful around the house. For many people, the thought of asking for help with meal preparation or laundry may feel uncomfortable but this kind of help is really meaningful for your family and contributes to you having time to be able to rest and recuperate fully.
We can learn a lot from traditional cultures.
In societies where the traditional culture is still intact, there is a reverence and respect for the postpartum time. They acknowledge that the first forty days after birth is to be treated as a time of recuperation. There are many traditions that focus on helping the mother to heal and bond with her baby. Anthropological studies show that postpartum disorders such as ‘the baby blues’ are virtually non-existent in traditional cultures.
However, in our ‘modern culture’ we see the baby blues effecting up to 85% of women with up to a quarter of women experiencing postpartum depression. More and more people are feeling isolated and overwhelmed with little support.
Ask a postpartum doula to help
Postpartum is a huge transition for the mother and her family. Having guidance and support helps everyone to feel calmer and happier.
Postpartum doulas are experienced in helping families navigate the transitions that happen after birth. Care focusses primarily on nourishing the mother so that she can heal from birth and nurture her newborn. Postpartum doula’s often bring in traditional practices like massage and belly binding so that the mother can physically relax and heal. They may cook delicious and nourishing foods like soups and stews as they are particularly suited for a new mothers digestion. Some doula’s have experience with breastfeeding support to assist you to get off to a good start. Other things that you can ask your doula to help with are looking after your baby while you sleep, helping around the house and providing emotional support.
Remember that the most important job for the new mother is to fall in love and learn to breastfeed her baby. Take time during your pregnancy to organise to have help with house work, child-minding, cooking and cleaning. And start to view ‘luxuries’ like massage, nourishing food and belly binding as an essential part of your recovery. We know that a happy mother will be able to better nurture her newborn more deeply. Your future self will thank you for the time you took to properly heal during postpartum.