Preparing for the welcoming of a child into the family is a huge life event, especially with postpartum. Not only are there many changes physically and emotionally, it’s also the uncertainty of the unknowns that follow.
Robin Ross, who wrote this blog, has supported more than 800 mothers through their pregnancies.
When will the baby be born if you’re having a spontaneous delivery? Or how is the birth going to unfold? Or what will life with this new baby be like?
Many pregnant women may take a childbirth class (which I highly recommend … check out our Facebook page for more info) to help prepare for a positive birth experience, which will help ease them into a smooth recovery period. Some expecting families may take a baby care class to help understand how to care for their newborn. Some mothers may even take a breastfeeding class to help build confidence and find resources for after the birth.
Despite these great options, though, many families are not prepared for postpartum.
Heng Ou’s book, “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother,” is packed with useful information for families. Once the baby is here, the mother undergoes even more changes. Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on a mother’s recovery and how she bonds with her baby. In recent history, cultures have insisted on 40 days of nourishing and support for mothers to help them heal and recover in a more positive and holistic way.
Here in the United States, we have lost this perspective and don’t value the postpartum challenges that new mothers experience.
“the United States continues to top the list of nations that are disconnected from the basic concept of relieving a mother of overwork and giving her dancing hormones the time and space to regulate through rest and proper nutrition. The unconscious message beamed from all angles is, ‘Get back at it. You can’t afford to rest.’
“But it seems we can’t afford not to. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that when deliberate physical care and support surround a new mother after birth, as well as rituals that acknowledge the magnitude of the event of birth, postpartum anxiety and its more serious expression, postpartum depression, are much less likely to get a foothold. Consider that the key causes of these disturbingly common, yet still highly underreported, syndromes include isolation, extreme fatigue, overwork, shame or trauma about birth and one’s body, difficulties and worries about breastfeeding, and nutritional depletion, all which suggests that when we let of of the old ways, we inadvertently helped create a perfect storm of factors for postpartum depression.”
What can we do to help mothers?
We can start by creating a village for her. Setting up meal trains and bringing her and her family nourishing meals, arranging for help with light cleaning, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. These are tedious tasks that she should not be worried about doing soon after giving birth.
Check in on the mother and ask how she is feeling. If the mother is breastfeeding, check to see if she needs support because breastfeeding can be hard for many moms, which may result in them giving up because they feel like they aren’t getting the right support.
Help her find resources for postpartum support and help her find ways to get to these places if they do not come to her home. If she has other children, offer to come by for 30-60 minutes of activity time so she can take a shower or a short nap.
These little things add up and can positively affect how a woman heals from childbirth and how she moves into parenting.
“When you take care of the mother, you take care of the child.”
So true. When the mother is cared for, then her child/children are taken care of because she is more comfortable and confident. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and when that happens, the moms are taken care of, too.