It seems as though there was more support available to me during my pregnancies rather than afterwards. I've noticed that society seems to focus more on how to get the woman through her pregnancy and delivery and once you've delivered, well, you're on your own. This is one of the reasons I decided to become a Certified Health Coach with a focus on pregnancy and postpartum care.
I was one of those women that had to work through the postpartum phase on my own and trust me it was no breeze. My emotions were all over the place, especially after the birth of my third baby. You would think I would have mastered things by now right, I mean I was on my third child. The truth is, every pregnancy is different. Each one can come with its own challenges. Learning to breastfeed, trying to maintain my house, wondering about money, and so on and so on. I had no one to navigate me through any of my anxieties. I feel like the world thinks that a woman is just supposed to have a baby and she will be fine. It also seems as though if a woman is having a difficult time after delivery she is labeled as weak or crazy.
I was reading an article recently where a women reached out for help after she had her baby because she was having a difficult time and as a result she lost custody of her children for several months. I've also learned that OB's aren't really trained to to deal with mental illnesses such as postpartum depression leaving many women to feel alone and hopeless. I know that there are spouses and significant others who would like to help during this time as well, however, they are in the dark as well.
That's where I come in. I know I may not be able to help everyone but I do feel as though I can reach some people out there just so they know they are not alone. So what do women actually need once they've delivered their beautiful baby boy or baby girl? It can vary from woman to woman honestly but we all need basic things to thrive and heal after our bodies have gone through something as powerful as delivering a baby.
I've done a lot of research about different cultures and how they go about the postpartum period. Some cultures say that the postpartum period lasts for about eleven days or long enough for the uterus to go back to normal size. Other cultures have determined that the postpartum period is a lot longer, up to about forty days. Many women return home to their mothers for healing so they won't have to worry about their homes and doing household duties. Their main goal is to focus on healing and bonding with their babies. Some families split duties between the mother and mother in law during this time as well. It just all depends.
So what are the five things needed for the postpartum journey?
1. Increased Rest! In a lot of places, resting after delivery is demanded and it is also necessary. Women need to be cared for so that they can care for the new life that they just brought into the world. They need this time so that their minds, bodies, and spirits can synch. So after delivery, if you can rest as much as possible. All of our circumstances are different and some of us may be able to get more help than others. If you're currently pregnant, start creating a plan now, so that you will have the help you need. After my first pregnancy and due to the seizures I experienced from Eclampsia, my mom was willing to help me and she did. My second pregnancy was different. I was overseas in Germany with no family (well not by blood) but I did have some really good friends that were more than willing to help me. Pregnancy number three was the hardest for me for reasons I will get into more in another blog however I help here and there. I'm currently pregnancy with baby number four. I'm getting a plan together so that I can rest and heal as needed during this important time.
2. Nutritious Foods! Have you ever heard the saying "Food is Medicine"? I'm sure you have. It indeed is. Now I'm not going to sit up here and make it seem as though I always make the best food decisions all the time because I don't. A lot of us have our guilty pleasures and sometimes that discipline goes out the window. I am however, more conscience about what I eat and how much of certain things I eat. Food is indeed medicine. It supplies our bodies with the nutrients that we need to thrive. As a new mom, especially one that is going to breastfeed, nutritious foods are definitely a must. Foods and herbs help cleanse the uterus, get rid of old blood, and help new moms build up their strength. So try to get your herbs,
fruits, veggies, and lean meats (if you eat meat).
3. Affection! The changes that our bodies go through after delivery are massive! Our hormones are trying to stabilize, our organs are going back to their proper places, blood volume is changing. No wonder we can sometimes feel as though we are losing it. Affection is a must. We need loving touch and relaxation during this time. Don't be afraid to let someone know if you need a hug, a massage, or whatever you need. You deserve it!
4. Time in Nature! This was a huge one for me and it is even when I'm not pregnant. I noticed how my mood is impacted if I'm inside for too long. I need time outside in nature, in the sun, and by water whether it's the ocean or river. It makes a huge difference for me and my wellbeing. Connecting with nature is very important. If you can't get outside to walk, you can sit near a window and let the sun shine in on you and your baby. You can also connect with nature by taking baths with different herbs. There are so many ways to connect so please do so. It can make a big difference.
5. Time with knowledgable women along with spiritual time! Have you had the opportunity to be in the presence of wise women after you've delivered? Women such as aunts, grandmothers, cousins,friends, women who can share wisdom with you and support you during this time? This is definitely good to have if you can. Having women around who have been where you are now and can support you is up-lifting. As I stated before get your support system together now if you can. If you don't have any people close to you that you feel can support you, look into some local resources on the internet if you have access. There could possibly be groups in your area that you can join.
Please don't look at consider the postpartum journey to be a time to be skipped over. This is a time to take things serious. Your time of healing, your time of bonding with your new baby, this is very important. Take the time you need to ensure that you are getting exactly what you need. You deserve it! Until next time, sending you peace, love, and light.
Certified Health Coach (Pregnancy and Postpartum Support)
Johnson, K. A. (2017) The Fourth Trimester. A postpartum guide to healing your body, balancing your emotions, and restoring your vitality. Shambhala Productions.