Often preparation for after the birth is neglected in maternity care. In fact, Suzanne Arms says, “Is ours not a strange culture that focuses so much attention on childbirth – virtually all of it based on anxiety and fear – and so little on the crucial time after birth, when patterns are established that will affect the individual and the family for decades?”.
1 in every 6 women are suffering from postnatal depression and according to Julia Jones from Newborn Mothers, over 80% of mothers say they are exhausted and overwhelmed.
How come this is the case? A big reason is that many people are isolated from their families and support network. Our modern lives have led us to live quite separately from each other. How many grandparents and relatives live hours away, interstate or even overseas? Or they may live close but not be very helpful. We could learn a lot from the traditional hunter/gatherer tribes who live more of a trusting, co-operative lifestyle with non-parental adults playing a big role in caregiving. The care of children is shared among many. Societies that have strong support networks in place have the lowest rates of depression.
Many people in modern society try to implement some of the traditional practices like skin-to-skin contact, attachment parenting, nursing on demand and co-sleeping. This constant care was traditionally shared among many adults and expecting one or even two people to do it all, is basically impossible. No wonder many mothers are feeling completely overwhelmed by new motherhood, especially if you add in other children to the mix!
- You can do anything, but not everything.
- If you’re trying to meet your baby’s physical and emotional needs all on your own then you’ll need to let go of some other things (like house work, cooking, cleaning, shopping and socialising)
- Hire a postpartum doula to help
- Acknowledge the hard work of becoming a mother by incorporating some nourishing traditions into your life
- Find out about the benefits of belly binding/wrapping
- Boost your oxytocin levels by enjoying skin-to-skin cuddles, laughing, finding time to relax and eating warm nourishing foods
- Learn to ask for help (seriously!)
- Write down the names of people who you can call to help with meal preparation, house work, child minding and being a listening ear
- Try to be social, for example in mothers groups etc
- Remember what you enjoy doing and ask for help so you can do this. Examples include; get a massage, do some yoga, go for a walk, pick some flowers.
- Eat well - as wholesome and nourishing as possible
- Consider placenta encapsulation for postpartum wellbeing
- Take things one step at a time
- Offer to do the dishes, put on a load of laundry or do some folding
- Make a delicious meal for the new family
- Offer to hold the baby while mum has a shower or a nap
- Continue to check in- how are you going? Do you have enough support? Can I get you anything?