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Crafting a protected postpartum

"Rather than get invited to take a sacred time-out after delivering her child, the new mother is more likely met with pressure to “bounce back”—back to her pre-pregnancy productivity, back to her pre-pregnancy body, and back to her pre-pregnancy spirits. But when it comes to becoming a mother, there is no back; there is only through. After birthing her child, every woman must pass through this initial adjustment phase. It is a strange and beautiful limbo zone that is both exhausting and exciting, mysterious and monotonous." - The first 40 days ~ Heng Ou



Credit: Emily Ratajkowski

Depending on where in the world you are situated, you will have different cultural views and expectations in the first few weeks and months after you have birthed your baby. Here in Australia, the predominant Western, individualistic, and hustle-minded culture has taken over, and impacts experiences such as this, to a harmful degree.


You have a really powerful opportunity here to change the narrative, not only to educate and inspire those around you by rewriting cultural norms, but to deeply impact the health of you, your baby, your breastfeeding journey, healing and bonding, and concreting a really strong foundation for your family dynamic to move into the next phase with.


As always, these are suggestions. Please take a moment to drop into your being and feel into what is aligned with you and your family, and disregard all else.


*ALSO - talk about this with your partner in pregnancy, or better yet, in your preconception period! Plan early.


 

Limited or no visitors for a period of time

Common in Eastern traditions is to have a period of postpartum 'confinement' where the mother follows a list of practices to boost health, happiness, and longevity. This feels unbearable to many in Western cultures who are taught from a young age that value comes from ongoing and consistent productivity. However, I encourage you to consider having a period of no visitors, or limited visitors (for example, only the mother of the mother or both sets of grandparents are invited over in the first 2 weeks). I know, you want to show off your baby and share the joy. But trust me on this, you will appreciate the time to integrate not only the birth experience but all you are learning in those early weeks without the hassle of 'hosting'. For those that you do choose to include in your visitor list for the period of time you choose, consider whether they will be a help or hindrance to this time. Will they cook, clean, and support your feeding journey and decisions? Will they hold the mother more than they want to hold the baby?


Another aspect of postpartum 'confinement' is the reduced movement of the mother. People go about this in different ways, create one that suits you. the 5-5-5 rule is common and effective, having 5 days in bed, the next 5 on or around the bed, and the last 5 moving about but still within the walls of the home. This is a slow emergence out of the sensitive birth portal and early postpartum.


Prepared food

Do not disregard this, please. It doesn't matter what form this comes in, any type of prepared food will be massively beneficial. We have all had periods in our lives where we are so busy we don't have the time to make wholesome nutritious meals, and we also know how terrible we feel because of it. Mentally, physically, energetically, and especially when you are healing from pregnancy and birth, and also feeding and adjusting to a very new sleep schedule, this is so SO important. There are ideal foods to include in postpartum, including easy-to-digest meats, warming meals using warming herbs and spices, and avoiding things like raw salads, smoothies, or processed foods. Some ideas:

  • organise a meal train (or ask someone to do so for you), visit www.mealtrain.com

  • instead of gifts at a baby shower or mother blessing, ask for those attending to instead sign up for your meal train or drop off a ready-to-heat, home-cooked postpartum meal (or food vouchers like hello fresh)

  • pre-cook and freeze a bunch of meals and snacks that are easy to defrost and eat/heat back up

  • sign up to a ready-to-heat meal service (hello fresh, marley spoon etc)

  • hire a postpartum doula



Credit: the dao health

Support network

Speak with friends and family before baby arrives about what you want and may need in the early postpartum period, specifically what you want from them as your support network. This is the time to begin setting boundaries for the postpartum time. Asking them to check in with you regularly, keeping an eye out for any signs of postpartum concerns, reminding you to book in postpartum blood tests, asking them to take over some of the childcare, pickup/drop off, or other house-based chores so you and your partner can drop into the experience fully. These are just some ideas, sit down and think about what might work best for you.


Speak at length with your partner about what you expect or see for your postpartum. What you won't be engaging in (moving around, house chores, cooking, cleaning etc), and why this is important for you and your baby. Speak about things they may need to pick up as you focus on rest and recovery. This can do wonders to avoid resentment or frustration between you in the early days.


A postpartum doula is a great hired aspect of support if you have the means and desire to do so. Not only can they take over a lot of what I have already spoken about, but many have their specialization in things such as body work or massage, photography, breastfeeding, sleep success... etc.


Professional services

...such as postpartum pelvic floor physiotherapy, GP-organised blood tests (this is a must at your 6-week check), mental health care and support, bodywork, and alignment such as osteopathy or chiropractor support... as some examples. Of course, considering the cost of living at the moment and accessibility to such things is important. Do what you can with what you have.



 

The above I would consider non-negotiables (regarding professional services, the GP blood test is free to those in Australia and a non-negotiable, with the remainder being a bonus if accessible).


Beyond this list, craft a postpartum that is specific to you, your wants and needs and how you and your partner want to begin this chapter. Some ideas (again, choose only what is aligned for you):

  • postpartum belly binding

  • removing yourself from social media and online participation for a period of time

  • when you're ready to leave the house, prioritise time in nature

  • ask visitors, if any, to not apply perfume before coming to your home or interacting with the baby

  • set any rules around interacting with your baby (no kissing, no sickness around the baby etc)


Consider what makes you feel safe, secure and comfortable. Anything that is anxiety-inducing should be avoided at all costs.




 

With a special interest in natural fertility, conscious conception, and conscious relating through starting a family, I offer birth support and related services to encourage more depth and awareness in your journey. I educate on the menstrual cycle and encourage women to reawaken their confidence and trust in their bodies, and show an understanding of how all of these experiences are interrelated and must be considered on your journey to starting a family.


I share similar information regularly on my social media. Please follow to keep updated, and contact me if you'd like to talk more about this divine time of preparing for your spirit baby.


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