The postpartum weeks are a time of great change for a new mother, physically, mentally and emotionally. How you journey through this period can have a lasting impact on your life as a mother and as a woman. As Ysha Oakes said ’the first 42 days after birth set the stage for her next 42 years’. So why in our society is this important time for the new mother so ignored, both in our planning for becoming a mother, and during the time itself? When did we forget our knowledge around the importance of nurturing and nourishing the mother?
How can we reconnect with the knowledge around mothering the newborn mother and acknowledge the need for a slow postpartum? As a new mother to be, will you gather your village as part of your preparation? Will you acknowledge your vulnerability and allow others to carry the burden of the day to day? Will you allow yourself to be cared for as fully and tenderly as you will care for your baby?
As a family member or as a friend, how will you better support the new mothers in your life? Letting go of the busy, letting go of expectations of the new mother continuing with all of the day to day tasks that she was doing before. How can you better recognise and accept the shift that occurs when a baby is born and realise that a new mother is born too? That a new mother needs the same level of nurturing and support as the baby itself.
Together can we slow down the postpartum period? Such a short space of time in the scheme of things, yet such potential to change the course of the years to come.
Here are 3 simple ways you can start to prepare:
Start to build and/or gather your village. Take a look at your existing village. Is it filled with people ready to support you after the birth of your baby? Consider the obvious, family and friends, but also think about postpartum professionals and those from related caring professions (Massage, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kinesiology, Womens Physio, Lactation Consultants, Postpartum Doulas, maybe cleaners or laundry services) It’s good to at least have contact information to hand for these people before birth so that you aren’t trying to find a practitioner you are comfortable with later down the line when really all you need to be doing is focusing on yourself and the baby. Maybe joining some pregnancy focussed yoga or pilates, starting to build your circle of like minded mamas who you can share joys and struggles with you both through pregnancy and as you are settling in to your new role as a mother. Have you got a strong village to support you? If not, invest some time now building your village around you.
Consider arranging a meal train so that friends and family can support you with meals during the first few weeks postpartum. There are useful tools like www.mealtrain.com, or you/your partner can organise something simple via e-mail or share a google doc. Maybe including the meals you love, the foods you love and those you do NOT love and any allergies or dietary requirements you wish them to be aware of. Meal trains not your thing? Then maybe prepare a basic grocery list of foods you love, so that someone can easily shop for you when needed. Get some meals prepared and in the freezer as a back-up. Sure fresh, warm and nourishing foods are best postpartum but better have some delicious homemade food in the freezer than end up hungry or eating stuff that doesn’t serve you because it’s the only thing to hand. For an handy snack, see my earlier blog, Are Bliss Balls The Answer To Everything?
Consider how you feel about visitors. Do you want visitors in the first few weeks or do you want quiet time just you and your immediate (new) family? Who would you like to visit? Is there anyone who you would prefer not to visit. This is your time and you are under no obligation to host every Tom, Dick and Harry just because they want to meet your baby. Consider setting out your hopes around visitors to family and friends ahead of time. You could always combine a communication about a food train alongside an opportunity to gently spell out any guidelines on visits in the first few weeks. Set out whether you are open to visitors and if so, requesting that friends and family keep visits short. 20-30 minutes, especially in the first few weeks is usually plenty, unless of course they want to spend more time washing the dishes and doing the laundry etc. Maybe you could ask that visitors bring a meal or spend some of their visit helping out with chores? Feel uncomfortable about those kind of requests? Start practicing asking for help now, it does get easier, and people generally love to help.
I hope this has given you a few ideas on how and what you need to think about in preparation for such an important time in your life. It’s nigh on impossible to fully appreciate the enormity of the postpartum period until you are there, but there are plenty of us who have done it before so, please, lean of the body of knowledge from mothers who have gone before. You don’t HAVE to push through this time as though it was a solo marathon. Slow down, give yourself time, allow yourself to be supported, to be vulnerable, to find peace and joy. FInally, as I heard a fellow Postpartum Professional say earlier today to a friend “Don’t wait until you are thirsty to dig the well.”
I’m Anne, Mum of two, Postpartum Doula and Yoga Teacher specialising in Pregnancy and Postpartum Yoga. I run Postpartum Preparation Workshops and Yoga Classes on the Sunshine Coast alongside In-home Postpartum Support and Yoga for new mothers who don’t want to settle with exhaustion and overwhelm being their introduction to motherhood. You can enquire about or book my services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or click here: